Back to Basics: What Makes Bullet Journal Notes So Popular?


According to recent research, students who took handwritten notes generally outperformed students who typed up their notes. The study carried out by researchers at Princeton University and the University of California at Los Angeles found that people who write out notes in longhand retained information longer and picked up new ideas easier compared to those who used their laptops and mobile devices.

These research findings nicely coincide with the growing popularity of the productivity system Bullet Journal, a pen and paper note taking method. The Bullet Journal method seeks to make sense of your notes, prioritize them and organize them by using a set of bullets as identifiers for the category to which each item belongs. Creator Ryder Carroll brands the system “Rapid Logging”. There are four key components: topics, page numbers, short sentences, and bullets. Then you can divide your journal into the following sections:

  • An index, in which you list the page numbers of any subject you want to find again later.
  • A future log, to help you keep track of tasks in the upcoming six months.
  • A monthly log, in which you note tasks and plans you plan to accomplish that month.
  • A daily log, which is a daily run down of the items you need to work on or finish per day.

Carroll gives an overview of how the system works here.

Advantages of Bullet Journal Notes

Great visuals
These bullets provide a great visual overview of projects, deadlines and events as well as providing some structure around organizing your thoughts and tasks.

Its adoptability
The appeal of the Bullet Journal is huge, which is why it has a big hit with productivity enthusiasts. Everyone from students to entrepreneurs rely on their notes and lists to help stay on top of assignments, ideas, deadlines, and events.

The structure
The most difficult part of managing a constant stream of information is misplacing information, but with this system not only is everything in the same place – it’s also mapped out in a logical order. It also allows you to tackle smaller tasks with an eye on the big picture.

It’s easy to use
It also is simple to set up and easy to do! Simply choose a regular paper notepad, decide on the bullets you want to use, migrate your existing tasks into the new format and start building your index. Be sure to evaluate your progress every month and take note of tasks which need attention and those which have taken too much of your time.

Disadvantages of Bullet Journal Notes

Critics argue the Bullet Journal does the opposite of promoting productivity – because if you log every note, categorize your data and build an index, you are essentially not working on the task.

It’s too rigid
When working with actual paper you are quite limited space wise. This can make it quite difficult and frustrating to know how new data will fit into the existing categories you have created. It’s almost impossible to know how much paper to reserve for your to-do list if you don’t know how long it will be.

It doesn’t provision change
The Bullet Journal system does not allow for flexibility when it comes to tackling your tasks. What you think is important to complete by Wednesday could complete change when you wake up on Wednesday morning. The system does not account for last minute projects and it can then be super difficult to adjust your agenda and to-do list when tasks get pushed off.

You can’t write as fast as you type
If you can’t write as fast as you type
, does that mean you’re missing information when you take notes with a pen versus a digital device. And isn’t it much more convenient to take out your cell phone and jot notes rather than carry around a pen and notepad?

Sometimes you can’t read what you write
If you’re writing fast and you don’t have immaculate handwriting it can be pretty hard to decipher what you are trying to write. At least with digital notepad applications a spellcheck is always on hand!

Have you tried it? We’d love to know what you think!

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