Using Bullet/Dot Journaling at Home

Analog organizing: Bullet/ Dot Journaling

The Bullet, or Dot, Journal is a favorite organizational method of several JMRL staff.  Those of us who use it have found that though each day is uncertain as we find new ways to work remotely and offer virtual services, this simple, no-tech, method is something we can rely on. Bullet or Dot Journaling is an analog organizational method that has the potential to be a planner, to-do list, doodle book, and journal all in one, helping you keep track of everything from a daily routine to a complicated professional project all in one place. Gone are the days of desperately keeping track of lists and notes on separate scraps of paper that you’re sure to lose. All you really need to start is a notebook and a writing utensil.  From there, you can make it as minimalist or artistic as you’d like. One of the beauties of this journal format is the flexibility – it enables you to create a planner/journal that works for you and your lifestyle, and as your schedule or lifestyle changes, you can change it to fit your new needs. This is great in the current environment when many things are in flux!

The Bullet Journal was originally developed by Ryder Carroll, who according to his website biography, was “diagnosed with learning disabilities early in life, he was forced to figure out alternate ways to be focused and productive.” Carroll later published a book, Bullet Journal Method : Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future. It is meant to be a quick and effective way to organize yourself, so despite what you might see on Instagram, it doesn’t need to be fancy or take a lot of time to set up or prepare.

Sound useful?  Here are some resources to get you started:

The Basics:


  • Beyond Bullets by Megan Rutell Overdrive eBook
  • Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll Overdrive eBook
  • Dot Journaling- A Practical Guide by Rachel Miller Wilkerson Freading eBook
  • The Journal Writer’s Companion by Alyss Thomas Freading eBook
  • Study with Me: Effective Bullet Journaling Techniques, Habits, and Hacks to Be Successful, Productive, and Organized by Jasmine Shao and Alyssa Jagan
    EBSCOHost eBook

On the Web:

Adding Artistic Elements:


On the web:

A peak inside our Bullet Journals:

Maybe you’d like to see a real-life journal in action? Here are some of the basic pages from Camille’s journal:

The Key:

The Key

The Index:

The Index

The Month:

The Month

The Collection:

The Collection 1

The Collection 2

Here are a few spreads from Megan’s journal, which is sometimes a chill artistic outlet, sometimes a hastily scribbled collection of lists, and often somewhere in between. Megan really loves the flexibility of Bullet Journaling and frequently changes up what kinds of habit tracking, weekly calendar, and other spreads get used. They often keep lists and other things to refer to frequently in the back of their journal, like Bakes to Try, Video Games to Play, a Universal Packing List, Book Brainstorming Notes, and so on:

Bujo #1Bujo #2Bujo #3

And here are a few peeks at Hayley’s journal, which is a simple spiral-bound lined journal (no dot grid here – and as you can see, not a requirement). About her journal she says:

“I am a list maker, so my journal is very heavy on collections (lists of things that I want to remember or take notes on).  I find it relaxing to add pops of color or doodles sometimes, but have embraced minimalist entries for everyday use. I have never done a monthly spread, am not much of a habit tracker, and tried an index but didn’t find it to be useful for me, so keep in mind how you like to organize yourself and add in the elements that work best for you. I also don’t let myself use a ruler so I that I don’t stress over things looking perfect.

I started out trying a weekly spread, and before COVID-19 changed how I work, I kept a planner at work for work-things, and my bullet journal was my personal-planner-journal-space. Now my spheres have combined and I have found that a simply daily spread has been much better to help me organize myself, especially as I work from home. Again, the beauty of this journal is the flexibility that it offers to allow you to change your journal to fit your current lifestyle.”

IMG-5782 dec
An older weekly spread with lists pertinent to my week, and an inspirational quote and a little creative flourish.
A more minimalist version of my weekly spread, again with some useful lists.
I found that switching to a simple daily spread worked better for my own organization, and find that a gratitude list really improves my days. On the opposite page I had fun tinkering with some lettering practice.
IMG-5783.jpg konmari
A collection page that you might find useful if you are stuck at home working through some decluttering, based off of Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You can find a lot of printables of lists like this online, but when you put your own in your journal, you can tailor it based on what you actually have at home.

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