One year with Bullet Journal

Bullet Journal notebook

Thirteen months ago, I jotted some notes about my one-month experience with Bullet Journal. Now, more than a year has passed. Here are some observations on the longer experience with this organizational system.

SKIPPY HERE, FULL THERE. Even in those periods when I didn’t keep up daily with the journal, sometimes I did mark items in the monthly habit tracker. So there was progress being made. At other times, when I was slow to set up the monthly calendar and the habit tracker, I was using the daily pages, including tasks by memory. So one way or the other, I was taking advantage of the momentum that the journal was providing.

ONLINE, OFFLINE. I use a personal, offline TiddlyWiki, and it also serves to register information and ideas. I don’t have much a system for interfacing the two—except for noting in BuJo that something was done in TW, so I’ve probably lost some efficiency switching between the two, but there are some things that seem to flow better from the keyboard, others from writing in the journal. It’s good to have that option. Through its tags, CamelCase and other features TW is easy to cross-reference.

WEEKLY? All things calendar are pretty much in the journal, except for a weekly writing schedule. (That means I have no online calendar of appointments or events.) Somehow, I still have a hard time adjusting to the idea of having a monthly, a daily AND a weekly scheduling system in the journal. My wife has successfully done all three; I must have a mental block.

HABIT TRACKER. The Habit Tracker has been a great boon. I’ve refined it, rearranged it, dropped some things and added others. Likely, in 2017, I’ll do more shuffling here as my priorities and objectives are tweaked. My tendency is to attempt too much. I have no fewer than 24 items on the tracker—the page is quite full. Not all are daily, but I can at least see at a glance what I’m doing more regularly and what needs some attention. So I feel less like I’m juggling more balls than I can keep in the air.

DAILY PAGES. I’ve had days and even several at a time when I failed to keep the daily pages up to date. The tracker helps fill the gap when that happens.

For most of the time with BuJo, I crammed too much information, too many days, on a single page. My thought was to save space and economize in terms of the cost of the journal. But it was becoming an unproductive strategy. Recently, I’ve started using more white space around different features, and it is really helping to keep from feeling crowded. There’s a psychological effect at work.

NOTEBOOK. At the beginning of the year, I started using the official BuJo notebook, with the dotted pages. It has worked well, but I hate drawing lines when needed. (Confession: I’m lazy that way.) I’m toying with the idea of using a solid grid format for a change. (Anybody have experience with this format, recommend it or not?) The journal is great, love the three page markers, is just the right size for me.

Thanks to my daughter-in-law, Valerie Matheny, for the personalized initials on the notebook. (Check out her crafts webpage.)

HAIRY-SCARY PROJECT PAGE. I never got that transferred to my new noteback. A setback on knocking those out. (See my first article for details.)

BULLET JOURNAL FOR CHRISTIANS. Some people have thanked me for that first post where I included spiritual and ministerial items. To me, it’s not much of a mystery how to use and adapt BuJo for spiritual use. I’ve included prayer lists, work items, and a daily memory verse in a different ink color on the daily pages. Sometimes I put class or sermon outlines in it as well, mostly when I’m pressed for time, but I try to keep those in either an LibreOffice file or on my TiddlyWiki. Oh, and I started a project page for a list of times when I’ve taught or preached.


  • As a left-hander I used to do my notebooks and journals from back to front. I did not do that with BuJo, since the pages were numbered and the notebook lays flat quite nicely.
  • I write all my dates starting with the year, followed by month and day: 2016-12-27. That simplifies things for me, since Brazil and the US follow two different systems. So I went with a third, one that has some ISO approval or some such.
  • There’s some mixture of English and Portuguese, but mostly write in the latter.
  • I don’t doodle, make cute designs, or use lots of color. My notebook looks plain, and I like that. No visual distractions.
  • I use mostly green ink in the Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball pen, extra fine. My dad used green doing hospital reports when I was a kid, and that made an impression on me.
  • My BuJo, Bible, and other EDC items get carried in a SwissGear bag that’s not too big and not too small, but just right.

I’m thankful for the creator and contributors of BuJo. It’s made my life more organized and more productive.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

What do you think?