Back in Season 1, Episode 6, we talked about our experiences with bullet journals, but those experiences were focus on a traditional, pen-and-paper BuJo using the Leuchtturm1917 notebook or one of the many Moleskine variants.
We didn’t talk virtual bullet journaling because for both of us, the paper was the thing. There are downsides to a conventional, real-world bullet journal though, with the biggest being the potential lose or forget it. My bullet journal is my life: it tracks all my meetings, all of my daily to-dos, my weekly menus and exercise schedule, and a ton of quasi-random thoughts and notes. When I get to work and realize I didn’t put my bullet journal in my messenger bag, my day suddenly gets much, much worse.
Another downside is weight and clutter – when traveling, my bullet journal ends up being one more thing in my messenger bag (ok, my Nintendo 3DS is in there too … and my Kindle, but it’s not like I’m going to leave those behind). Accompanying the bullet journal are the dozen-odd pens and pencils I use as part of my process. It’s not a ton of gear, but if you’re trying to travel light, it adds up.
Going Virtual with a Bullet Journal
A virtual bullet journal combines the mindful benefits of a daily journal with a digital notebook that’s much harder to leave behind, especially if you’re using it from your phone. Depending on your approach to bullet journaling, another advantage is not having to write our your notes longhand … or having to improve your handwriting enough to be able to read those notes a few days (or hours) after they were written.
If you use a platform that lets you access your virtual notebook from multiple locations, then you don’t even need to remember a device – just login on whatever computer, tablet, or phone you have handy.
Since we don’t have a ton of practical experience with virtual bullet journals, we turned to the people who do:
- Friday.app – 9 Best Online Digital Bullet Journals in 2022
- Make Use Of – The 6 Best Bullet Journal Apps for Effortless Bullet Journaling
- Dairy of a Journal Planner: How To Start Digital Bullet Journal In 2022
- A high level overview of digital bullet journaling that covers things like picking a tablet, using a stylus, and suggestions on how to use apps to take notes.
- Zapier – How to design a digital bullet journal
- Advice on why to go virtual, how to pick a digital bullet journal app, and overviews of using Trello and Airtable to journal.
- Review Geek – The 8 Best Bullet Journal Apps
- Bullet Journal Companion – iOS | Android
- The official companion apps by Bullet Journal.
Hybrid Virtual / Real-world Bullet Journal
For my part, I follow a hybrid method. My bullet journal – a royal blue Leuchtturm1917 – is always in my messenger bag, but my messenger bag isn’t always with me. To capture ideas and tasks while out in the real world, I use Google Keep on my phone. I also use it during meetings when I don’t have time to pull out my bullet journal and jot down tasks.
Google Keep is a digital notebook that you can use to capture text, images, and even doodles. For bullet journaling, I use the check list functionality. My work flow is:
- Each month, I create a “[Month Name] Intake List” note.
- I set the display option to “checkboxes”
- As the month progresses, I add tasks to the list.
- Every few days, I import those tasks into my bullet journal.
- At the end of the month, if I have any remaining tasks, I add them to my bullet journal or copy them into the next month’s intake list.
I don’t like keeping to-dos in my intake list, because it turns it into something of a backlog graveyard. But at the same time, I don’t want to copy it into my bullet journal if I’m not ready to actually deal with it.
Alternative strategies I’ve pursued for managing the backlog include:
- Creating a “Backlog of Doom” in my bullet journal for tasks I should do, but haven’t gotten to.
- For tasks that are “watch this video” or “read this blog post”, I move them into a separate “Media to Consume” note in Google Keep. Then, when I have some downtime, I review it and pick some things to watch/read/listen to.
Everything else – my day-to-day tasks, my habit tracker, my weekly schedule, etc. – goes into my paper BuJo. For more about how I use my bullet journal, including example spreads, check out “My Approach to Bullet Journaling on Nuketown.