I had used the 5 Minutes Journal (5MJ) for nearly 3 years since I read Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris. 5MJ is great especially for people who want to try out journaling. It only takes up 5 minutes of your day and the structured questions you have to answer helps you prime your state of mind for the rest of the day.

The structure 5MJ provides is also its constraint. For several months, I found myself going into autopilot when filling out my journal. I had been answering the same questions on a daily basis for the past several years and when you get too used to something, you tend to skip over any thought process.

I want my journal to be much more, to be tailor made for me, so if I want to elaborate on a memorable experience I’ll have plenty of room to do so. An idea popped into my mind, why don’t I experiment with a notebook layout that will work for me and build my own journal? I quickly jot down my idea and didn’t give it much further thought.

A few weeks afterwards, my brother asked me what I thought about A Gentleman in Moscow and The Bullet Journal Method. I really enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow but I completely forgot I have bought The Bullet Journal Method awhile back. It didn’t take me long once I started to read The Bullet Journal Method before I realized I got it all wrong. There isn’t any perfect notebook layout. Everyone has different needs and each person’s need is constantly evolving as they advance into different stages of their lives. Rather than look for a perfect notebook layout, look for a journal method that is adaptive to any scenario.

This is where the bullet journal method comes in. The bullet journal method is a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system which aims to help you live an intentional life. It provides you a proven method and four building blocks for you to journal effectively.

Index

The index serves as a table of content for you to quickly locate different sections of your journal. For example, you can have a section to keep track of your reading list and you will simply record in your index the reading list and the corresponding pages numbers.

Future Log

The future log keeps track of any tasks or events you have in the future. Similar to context switching, the more things you have on your mind, the harder it is for you to focus on the task at hand. Future log notes down your future commitments so you can be more focused on the present.

Monthly Log

At the beginning of each month, you will migrate the current month from the future log into a monthly log. The monthly log consists of two pages, a calendar view and a task view. Now is the time to act on that commitment you had previously note down for the current month.

Daily Log

Daily log is where you will do the bulk of your journaling. In the morning, write down any task or event you have for the day. Review what you have on the monthly log and see if anything can be worked on today. At the end of the day, it’s time for you to reflect on what happened throughout the day and to examine whether you have completed your tasks or if they need to be rescheduled or even removed. Be mindful of only working on tasks that are meaningful to you. If there’s a task that you keep putting off, see if you truly find value in completing it.

With the four building blocks, you have the minimal structure to build on top off to customize your journal. For example, as part of my daily log, I’ll note down what I’m grateful for and elaborate on memorable events that happened throughout the day. I also have a section for my reading list and the Spanish songs I’m learning.

The customizable aspect is what makes the bullet journal method stands out. There is a big bullet journal community with lots of examples on how people apply the bullet journal method. Learn more about it, experiment, and do what works for you.

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