Gini Dietrich

How to Use a Bullet Journal for Business

By: Gini Dietrich | January 10, 2017 | 

Yesterday was National Clean Off Your Desk day, which I feel like is a strange time of year to have it.

July makes more sense.

Not less than a week after you go back to work after the holidays.

But hey!

No one asked me.

So we shall celebrate it now, instead of in July.

The point of the “holiday” is to begin your new year with a clean desk.

This is what they have to say:

This day is an opportunity to begin your new year with a clean and organized workspace.  Whether your desk is in a private or shared office, cubicle,  home or a make-shift desk on the counter, having your workspace uncluttered, organized, refreshed, and clean will help you work more efficiently and give you a sense of serenity.

Clean your desk and use #CleanOffYourDeskDay to post on social media.

Because you can guess my desk is already clean (I did it before the holidays so I wouldn’t come back to a messy desk), I’d ike to introduce a slight amendment.

Why not start a bullet journal to begin your new year with a clean and organized brain?

What the Heck is a Bullet Journal?

Oh my gosh. I am obsessed. And so freaking organized.

The people who created the bullet journal have this to say:

The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.

I’m not sure it teaches you to do more with less, but I do agree it has 1,600,000,000 uses (that’s my exaggeration, not theirs).

The point of the bullet journal is to have something that is yours, to keep you organized, get through your task lists, break down projects into manageable bites, and hold you accountable.

The only problem with it is it truly is a blank canvas, so you can get very overwhelmed.

(I have a Pinterest board for that!)

But I love the idea so much, I introduced it into work last week (before I realized there was a National Clean Off Your Desk day).

What to Put in Your Bullet Journal

The very first thing I did was list out everything I wanted to have in my bullet journal for January.

That included:

  • My January projects, including revise the annual Spin Sucks plan, create delegation how-to videos, A/B test our new subscriber campaign, switch our email to Google apps, and complete the 30-Day Challenge, along with each of you.
  • My January calendar and goals, by month and by week (each week has two pages).
  • Blog post ideas.
  • Dinner menu for the week.
  • Birthdays and other big events (I wrote “end of world” on January 20).
  • Meetings I have each day.
  • My to-do list (by week).
  • Workouts I did each day.
  • Number of steps I took each day.
  • A list of the videos I’ve created each week (see larger goal above).
  • The January goals for my team.
  • The January goals for my mastermind group.

That gets me through the first 35 pages in the book (I may need a second book by year’s end!).

I also added a page to keep track of all of the books I’ll read this year (I’m already on my fourth book!).

That’s as far as I’ve gotten.

I’d like to add more (see Pinterest board), but it can get very overwhelming and time-consuming.

And that’s sort of not the point.

Visual Representation for Accountability

Sure, we all have our to-do lists and calendars and everything else that keeps us organized and on task.

What I love about the bullet journal is it’s a visual representation of what needs to be done from week to week.

While I use Wunderlist for my recurring and really tactical items, it’s also an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of thing.

For most communicators, who are right-brained beings, this is a perfect way to clean and organize your brain.

Every week.

And you don’t even have to be an artist to make them look pretty.

Trust me, this is about as creative as I get…and it’s done with a ruler and different colored pens.

Now it’s your turn.

Do you have a bullet journal? What’s included in it?

If not, are you ready to try it out?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • i like this! I have a question: Do you use the bullet journal or a regular one?

    I have a confession to make: I tried Wunderlist, but it does not stick with me. I forget to use it, and I find myself going back to my pen and paper to-do list and Notes on my iPhone.

    • You can use any notebook you like. The point is to provide a visual way to keep yourself motivated.

    • Roger Friedensen

      Corina, have you looked into Nozbe yet? I’ve tried just about everything task list software out there (including some reaaaaaally expensive ones), and I keep coming back to Nozbe. Syncs across devices and interfaces seamlessly with Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook, etc.

      And I also use a Bullet, though I’m going to check out the Passion Planner (anything that will help me procrastinate doing real work…). 🙂

      Good luck, and may the Forge be with you!

      • Hey Roger, no I haven’t. Thank you so much. I’ll look it up.

        I ordered my Passion Planner. I’m supposed to get it next week. I’m super excited it. If it looks as good as on the website, it will be my favorite.

        May the Forge be with you too! 🙂

  • StephanieT

    This is on my calendar too! — I wrote “end of world” on January 20

    • It could be very, very bad. But at least we’ll always have his Twitter account to keep us entertained.

  • I’ve looked into the bullet journal, but i’m sticking with my Passion Planner. The weekly layout includes a weekly focus, daily focus and to-do list sections. And, I LOVE how goal setting is integrated throughout. There are monthly reflections and reminders to break down your goals into actionable steps.

    ALSO, there are blank pages in the back, so that’s where I keep my meal plan, blog post ideas, notes, etc.

    • OMG I just switched to a Passion Planner this year and I already LOVE it. the “space of infinite possibility” and the “good things that happened” spaces are so perfect.

      • YAY! Agreed! I love the “good things that happened” space. I tried to have a separate gratitude journal, but I always forgot to use it. Now, it’s right there in front of my face!

  • paulakiger

    I concur with your choice for January 20. You didn’t write it in green did you? 😉

    • I did not, but only because my January pages are red. 🙂

  • Pete Salmon

    Gini, I have to do something. I use sticky notes, which is a complete misnomer because I find them in my bed. This is a new resolution.

    • Get a notebook! Any ol’ notebook will do.

    • RobynVanPercy

      This actually made me LOL.

      • You should try working with him. We DIE every day. He’s so funny!

  • T60 Productions

    Hmmm… I think I like this.
    –Tony Gnau

    • I LOVE it. I have your goals in here, too…so I can keep you accountable.

  • I actually just started using one – I’m still trying to find the right balance. I wanted to focus on just my writing projects, but I may need to incorporate daily life things too. I’m still playing with the layouts each week but I really like the concept. It’s going to take me a little bit of trial & error to find something that really works for me.

    I love the way you’ve organized yours!

    • I tried to do one just for cooking and found it was too cumbersome. Having everything in one spot works really well for me.

  • Jennifer Meyer Clark

    Love bullet journaling! Started last fall and love that you can make it what you want. I use a Lechturm (sp?) journal and it’s perfect. I found that a journal that is dotted like that is perfect for me. Blank pages are too blank, lines too restrictive. The best thing for me – it visually reminds me of tasks while blending both my work life and personal life. And it’s small!

    • That’s what I have too–the dots. That way I can use a ruler and draw straight lines, but I’m not confined to a journal’s lines. I love it!

  • Suzy Dolbow

    I’ve never used a bullet journal, but can now see how helpful it would be, especially looking back month over month or year over year at my goals. Love the book page idea, too. If I buy a journal, you can bet I’m buying a whole set of fancy pens too:). Also, am I the only one who thinks of this video ( when you say “end of the world”? 🙂

    • It’s the end of the world as we know it!

      You definitely need a set of fancy pens. Tell your boss you need them for work and expense them.

  • I just started using Bullet Journal! Also – I learned you can draw!

    • Ha! It’s just a ruler and some fancy lines. That’s the extent of it.

  • susancellura

    Gini, would you kindly create mine for me and send it to me? 😉

    • That is an excellent idea, Susan 😄

    • The whole point is to make it your own. But sure! I’ll do it. Then I can include stuff in yours that I need you to do.

      • susancellura

        Exactly!!!! 😉 Plus, I am VERY tired right now. 😉 🐯

  • I have a different journal system I use for work-related projects but the Bullet Journal system has prompted me to take a few cues. I tend to flip the book often, working inward from both ends. I write goals and notes from the front. Then I log contents and summarize from the back, upside down (“the other front”). My calendar is in the center. I suppose it looks a little funny to an observer but it works for me.

    • I really LOVE the idea of doing it from the back, upside down. I’m doing that with my next journal. Super, super smart!

  • Love the visual aspect of this even though a stick figure artist. Looking at the list my manager and I put together, we should probably be using a bullet journal (or passion planner <–checking out). And, from your first photo, I'm actually inspired to finally start my challenge homework (well, soon anyway).

    • I’m a stick figure artist! Trust me, this is just a ruler, a pencil, and some pens. The journal I have has dots in it so it helps everything stay aligned. You can totally do this!

  • Sue Duris

    I believe I love this to death! I’ve been looking for something and I don’t think scheduling everything in my iCal is effective for me. I like how it is very visual and I can keep on my desk!!

    • I really love it because you DO see it constantly. You can merge personal and business and it works extraordinarily well.

  • Colleen Martell

    Thank you! I fell in love with this idea of a bullet journal after I read your post! What a cool idea! Thanks for sharing this because now I am starting my own bullet journal! I also had fun looking at everyone’s bullet journals on Pinterest!

    • It’s super fun, isn’t it? My mom said to me yesterday, “Ohhhh. I like how you did your books. I’m doing that.” SO. MANY. IDEAS.

  • Im with you Gini, July for my clear the desk mess and Jan 20th being the end of the world!
    When it comes to organisation I must admit I am an absolute scatter brain. The only effective way I have found to organise myself and keep myself focused is a bullet journal.
    Most importantly, having the physical book on your persons all day acts as an accountability partner, so the stuff I write down, I will get done. As you say your online planning tools become ‘out of sight, out of mind’. So yes, anyone who like myself can be a scatter brain, this will revolutionise your life!

    • I just saw more than 20 Congressmen are going to boycott the inauguration. I don’t think that’s ever happened. Ever.

      As for the bullet journal, I love that you’re doing it! Send me some photos. I’d love to see it in action.

      • Wow! Just everything so unprecedented, 2017 really is going to be a different world…

        On a brighter note!
        Heres my page for the beginning of January. I start each month with a page planning out the whole month ahead with the events written here I know I will forget!

        Then I start each day (you will see I skipped the 1st of January – but doesn’t everyone bookmark that as a recovery day!?) with a ‘gratefulness’ log – write down five things that I am grateful for. Then I write down my daily intentions and put a x once I have completed or a > if I move it to another day. And a < if I have an event to do later in the day.

        Finally I write a small diary at the end of the day just so I am consciously reviewing whether I am moving forwards in regards to my vision and goals that I have set, (that way I am much more likely to actively pursue them).

        Honestly this is the only way I have found to keep my scatter brain focused throughout the day, my book never leaves my side!