How to make the bullet journal work for you

As some of you might be aware, I started using a bullet journal a few weeks ago. During the first week, I had mixed feelings about it, and I almost gave up on it last week. And, then it occurred to me. I was more concerned about the “look” of my bullet journal than the actual “functionality” of it. And, this was natural. Looking at all the beautiful bullet journals out there, of course I wanted to make my journal look pretty. I wanted to use stickers and colors and beautify it. However, that was taking way too much time. 

That’s when I realized that I didn’t need to make my bullet journal pretty. It was supposed to make me more productive and efficient. 

It was just an efficient way to have all your tasks, to-do lists and appointments in one place, along with page numbers, so that you can easily track everything. 

But, if I was losing time by trying to beautify it, then it was essentially of no use to me. I realized that I was basically just losing the point. And, this happens to a lot of people. When I ask people why they don’t use a bullet journal, most of them are like: 

“It’s going to take way too much time, with all the stickers and stuff…” 

“Isn’t it going to be expensive?” 

So, it obviously seems like a bullet journal is a huge investment of time and resource, which is really doesn’t need to be. And, that’s when I decided to change my approach to make it work for me. I also learnt to think about it differently. 

Below are the top 5 ways you can make the concept work for you, if you’re someone who’s looking to improve your productivity by using bullet journals: 

5. Keep the pages simple: The best way to tackle tasks is by de-cluttering your mind, and to do that, you need to de-clutter your planners as well. Have a neat and clean daily tasks page, so that you don’t lose track of everything you need to do. Keep the tasks sufficiently high-level but actionable so that you know exactly what you need to do. 

Here’s a clean template for you: 

Bullet Journal_Clean Template.jpg

4. Customize it: You don’t need to spend an ample amount of time beautifying your journal, but of course you can if you want it to be an outlet for your creativity. You may want to motivate yourself to get your tasks done. And, you don’t necessarily need to draw beautiful pictures. For example, I use quotes at the top of my daily pages to motivate myself. 


3. Don’t forget to index it: Remember the index is what holds your journal together. So, you can add a whole lot of other items in your journal, but you must remember to number the pages and add it in the index. For example, I now have a gratitude page, and having it in the same diary I use for my daily tasks, allows me to actually fill it in. Previously, I had a different notebook for this, and I never filled it in. Nowadays, when I feel crabby, I just flip through to the page, and think a little about my blessings and learn to be a little more appreciative. 

Count Blessings

4. Keep changing it: The best part about using a bullet journal is that it doesn’t restrict you. So, don’t worry if this week’s weekly spread didn’t work for you. You can just change it up next week. Same goes for other items as well. I created a habit tracker which didn’t work for me at all. So, now I’m trying out something a little different. A bullet journal allows you to keep modifying the diary as per your wishes and accommodates your whims and fancies. 

5. Use good quality paper: Your bullet journal does not need to be fancy or expensive. But, one thing which I am pretty particular about is the quality of paper. When the pen starts leaking into the next page, I lose all my motivation. It just doesn’t work for you. And, trust me you can get good quality paper in cheap notebooks as well. So make sure to look out for this when you’re choosing a diary for yourself. 

If you still have apprehensions about starting your own bullet journal, read my previous article to get you a little motivated about this concept: Struggling with multiple notebooks? A bullet journal could be the answer to your problems!

I know it can be a struggle initially, but over time the system can really make you more productive, and save you the hassle of juggling multiple notebooks. So, go on, try something new! 





5 Comments Add yours

  1. Dr B says:

    A great post Karabi, I admire your commitment to design something that works for you. During my own Consultancy days such a tool was invaluable, I used a personal design too that was mass produced and marketed by a company who manufactured planners and journals, so I was very lucky! I also agree with your point about spending more time beautifying the “system” rather than USING the system, I used to do this loads when I used Linux as an operating system on my laptop, but now I use a Mac. I think we have/had similar roles (I’m an Organisation Psychologist) and I had a separate Creative section for when I was working out processes, frameworks, models etc. I had literally hundreds of them but it was invaluable to browse back through them and eventually create 3-4 that were priceless and consistently used. And … just writing you a direct contact message

    Liked by 1 person

    1. karabimitra says:

      Thanks for your detailed description, this is so very valuable and useful. Yes, i agree with you, it takes time to really have a particular system work for you, and customize it accordingly. But, once you reach that stage, it is a valuable asset. I’m glad my article was useful to you! Hope to write more such articles.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dr B says:

    Just sent email, hope not in spam!


  3. Dr B says:

    Reblogged this on Tales of Mindful Travel and commented:
    A second reblog from Karabi and one focusing on using an “old fashioned” mode of daily planning, to do lists, creative thinking ….. pen and paper! I like it because it recognises what so many of us spend too much time on which is “making it look nice” instead of putting the journal to goo use. Take Karabi’s advice, it’s common sense!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. karabimitra says:

      Thanks so much! Glad you found it useful!


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