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In more recent years, many people choose to organize their lives and achieve their goals by using a bullet journal, or BuJo, system, designed by the author Ryder Carroll. This innovative idea is an alternative to pre-designed planners and ready-made notebooks. Bullet journals have helped countless individuals manage their lives more efficiently and create a sense of self-discipline. However, with the new generation being more digital, can a bullet journal concept be replicated in a digital format?
Bullet journals can indeed be digital while still offering the same levels of creativity and productivity. There are many benefits of using a digital BuJo, including the ability to edit your information more easily, setting reminders and alarms and even sharing information with others.
In this article, we’ll explore how bullet journals can work in digital form and how they compare with the tried and tested paper bullet journals. Let’s get to it!
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The bullet journal is more of a concept than a physical object. It is a method of journaling created by Ryder Carroll, a NY designer, to combat distractions and foster productivity. He was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and to triumph over his learning disability, he started taking notes.
It was the way he took notes that helped him come up with the concept of bullet journaling. He used a simple, but concentrated, way to organize his thoughts and store information on paper. His note-taking technique was so flexible that he would use any kind of notebook for his journaling.
There were a few key features that remained consistent in his journaling. He used a specific set of symbols and layouts to track tasks, events, and notes. The main components, used by Ryder Carroll, are:
This is the first page of the journal and acts as a table of contents. As you add pages, you will reference them in the index so you can quickly find them later.
This is a spread that allows you to plan and track your long-term goals and events. It’s usually divided into months and covers the next 6 to 12 months.
This spread is used to keep track of tasks and events for the current month. You can also use it to reflect on the previous month and set goals for the upcoming one.
This is the core component of the bullet journal and is used to track tasks, events, and notes for each day.
These are pages that are dedicated to specific topics or projects. They can include things like lists, brainstorming pages, and habit trackers.
These are the symbols that are used to categorize tasks and notes in the journal. The most common symbols include a dot (•) for tasks, a circle (O) for events, and a dash (-) for notes.
These components can be personalized and customized to one’s preference. You can pick whatever works for you and drop what doesn’t. However, the original structure itself serves as a solid outline to take notes in an extremely organized manner.
If you want more information about starting a bullet journal, check out our guide for beginners.
Now that you know what a bullet journal is, it stands to reason that it can exist in a digital form. You can either download one of the many apps, built for the same purpose, or you can use OneNote or any other note-taking built-in software on your phone and laptop.
Apps like Notion, Evernote, Todoist, Google Calendar, and Trello are popular due to their ability to maintain schedules and optimize workflow.
They work similarly to a traditional bullet journal and use many of the same components, such as a future log, monthly log, and daily log. Here are some key components of digital bullet journals:
One of the most effective methods of developing new habits is to be reminded of them. Digital bullet journals offer the option of automated reminders so we are prompted to practice this new habit again and again until we become habitual to it. These reminders also ensure that we follow our to-do lists on a day-to-day basis and do not miss out on important events.
Using digital bullet journals is often more productive than traditional journals when it comes to acquiring knowledge or learning a new skill. Something as simple as attaching a link next to a learning task decreases the possibility of procrastination. When you have to watch a 10-minute video to learn a new skill and the link is right next to the task, you’re more likely to click on it and complete the job. Looking up a new word, writing something creative, reading a chapter, and many other activities become highly doable in digital journals.
Additionally, when you rely on digital devices to achieve learning tasks, you get access to more engaging content, compared to reading a course book.
One of the main characteristics of digital bullet journals is that they are organized. They are neat and straightforward and they have the ability to get you to a page within seconds. Digital notebooks typically have built-in tools, such as folders and tags, making it easy to keep notes organized and easy to find. There are no distractions when it comes to digital notebooks, no grammatical mistakes and no pictures.
Digital notebooks are even more portable than paper journals; even if you don’t carry your devices everywhere, you can still access your notebooks. Most notebooks have synching features and you can use any of the cloud services to keep your notebook accessible anytime and anywhere. Unlike paper journals, if you forget your digital bullet journal at home, you will still be able to access your digital journal.
We often underestimate the power of copy/paste, until we mistakenly put something on a paper journal. That’s when we realize the greatness of copy/paste. In digital bullet journals, we can conveniently shift pages and tasks without losing any information along the way.
If you like something on the internet, you can save it within seconds on your digital notebook and not make it a part of your to-do list. Long paragraphs of information, video links, and any other information can be archived in the notebooks with just a few clicks. A physical bullet journal, on the other hand, would require you to write a note about this information and then later try to find it on your digital devices or dedicate an entire afternoon copying them down.
Using a digital bullet journal has some advantages over paper journals and vice versa. Both mediums have their pros and cons and it ultimately depends on the user to make a choice based on their lifestyle and personal preferences. Below is a detailed comparison to help you make the right choice:
- Easier to edit.
- Portable and accessible.
- They often come with useful features such as the ability to set reminders and alarms.
- Can be shared with others more easily.
- Fewer distractions with straightforward features.
- Digital journals do not provide the same level of physical engagement as traditional paper journals, which can make the act of journaling less satisfying for some people.
- Lack of tactile sensation of pen on paper, an abundance of distractions, and limitations of creativity makes digital bullet journals less engaging.
- Increase screen time.
- Limits creativity – no option to doodle, draw, paint, or paste pictures.
- More satisfying to use, as the act of physically writing or drawing can be more engaging than typing or drawing on a screen.
- More personal and unique, as they can be customized with different pens, stickers, and other embellishments.
- Aesthetically appealing.
- They minimize our screen time.
- Writing things down on paper helps us retain information and makes us remember important tasks.
- Not as flexible, portable, or accessible as digital journals.
- They can be harder to share with others.
To sum up, both traditional bullet journals and digital bullet journals are effective methods of note-taking. Ultimately, it entirely depends on the user’s personal preference and lifestyle.
Those who cherish the smell of a fresh notebook, the feeling of the pen in their hands, and the solid reminder of their purpose and goals will find the traditional bullet journal much more effective.
On the contrary, for those who are always on the go, and prefer quick access to their notes without attaching any sentimental value to them, may prefer to use digital bullet journals.
We believe that as long as you are meeting all of your goals and staying productive, you can use any medium for bullet journaling, just as long as it changes your life for the better.