When it’s all said and done, bullet journaling is just a glorified to-do list. (Though I can argue for hours about why it’s so much more than that, but that’s not the point of this entry). After all, Bullet Journaling got its name because it consists of bulleted lists. Wow, genius. The key difference between your bujo and a really nice to-do list is one thing: Rapid Logging.
What is Rapid Logging?
Rapid logging is the basis of all bullet journaling. Essentially, it is a much quicker and efficient way of journaling or note-taking. Think of it as a short-form notation. It’s made of two main things: bullets and signifiers. These can take any form you need them too, so let’s break down the bare basics.
Rapid Logging Bullets
Now, remember in this post where I showed examples of keys? Well what I said then, and what I’ll continue to say now is that your key, aka your code for your bullets and signifiers, is completely up to you. You can use a checkbox, a triangle, a circle, whatever you want.
Here I will talk about rapid logging in its simplest form, which uses bullets. These are separated into three categories.
- Task Bullets: (think checkbox) These are your to-dos. What do you need to accomplish? Write a short sentence to accompany this.
- Event Bullet: (think empty circle) These are date-specific tasks or gatherings you need to remember.
- Note Bullet: This is anything you want to make note of but isn’t necessarily a task of event. Maybe it’s an idea for the project you’re working on. Maybe it’s a question you want to ask in your next meeting.
Both task and event bullets can be marked as completed, migrated, or scheduled. Here are some examples:
I don’t use the “scheduled” task. In my book, that means it’s an event. I like to keep my key to as few symbols as possible, but this is a great starting place. You can always tailor your key as you go.
Rapid logging can be used for any part of your bullet journal, not just daily tasks. You can use it for collections, monthly spreads, or weekly spreads, too.
Rapid Logging Signifiers
If you really want to get fancy, or if you’re forgetful as to what your shorthand means, you can add signifiers to any bullet. If you’re going to do this, you should create a key for these symbols so that you can quickly glean information from your to-do list at a glance.
Here’s what that list would look like with the additional symbols:
Also, if you have highlighters, markers or colored pens, you could color code instead!
Shortcut for Beginners: Use an index card on the inside cover!
Regardless of what signifiers you use or how your bullets look, the trick is to get in the habit of using this system. I had such a hard time remembering what symbols meant what, until I found this trick! I wrote out my key on an index card, that I taped to the front of my bullet journal.
Thank goodness for Pinterest and this method, or I may have given up on bullet journaling all together in the beginning. Now I only make a key for show, since I have this method memorized.
Migration: Taking Your List to the Next Level
This is what takes your bullet journal list from an ordinary to-do to a planner. This is the act of actively reviewing your tasks. You migrate a task when you move undone tasks over to another collection. Think of it this way: if you didn’t finish a task today and need to complete it tomorrow, you’d be migrating a task.
Ideally, you’d look at all your undone tasks for each set time period and move them to the next time period. So if you didn’t finish a monthly task or goal, at the end of the month you’d move it to the next month ― same for weekly or daily tasks.
Here’s a real example from my bullet journal (If you can read my crazy mostly-script-some-print handwriting):
As you can see when I don’t get a task, I migrate it to the next day because it’s still on my to-do list, but my to-do list is no longer cluttered with things that have been completed. This has drastically helped keep me from getting overwhelmed, but also kept me from losing tasks.
Tip: Add a number or date to the task to see how long they’ve been migrated.
A tip that I’ve always meant to implement but haven’t, is adding a number or date to the tasks. By adding the start date or the number of times you have migrated a task, you can more accurately see what you need to prioritize (or maybe what you need to pass to a teammate).
I’ve been meaning to implement this in my own journal so that I can see my average completion time for tasks, or how many times I’ve had to reschedule a meeting for a client (are they really interested in my services then?).
Why Try Rapid Logging?
Why should you even bother with this method? Well obviously, you clicked on this for a reason. If you’re here to get more organized, this will help you stay on task and on schedule. If you’re here for a quick and easy way to prioritize your daily tasks, this is both quick and easy (you need a notebook and a pen, that’s it! Pick those up at the dollar store and you got yourself a start.)
The biggest thing is there is no risk. What does it hurt to try a new method? You might be surprised by what you find.
- Rapid logging is a quick and easy method to keeping track of your tasks, events, and notes.
- You can add more meaning to your bullets through signifiers.
- You can create and use whatever bullets and signifiers you want, just make sure they work for you.
- Create an index card cheat-sheet in your front cover for your key when you’re first starting out.
- Migration is the most important part of the system. Review your tasks on a regular basis and carry them over to the next collection (daily, weekly, monthly, whatever!)
- Consider adding a number or date to migrated tasks to see how long they’ve been pending.
If you liked this post and found it useful, don’t forget to subscribe for updates on more blog entries. I’m currently working on a beginner’s guide to bullet journaling that I will be providing to newsletter subscribers first! Fingers-crossed that will be released in early July!