ever heard of bullet journaling + wondered what the heck? well, being the journal junkies that we are, of course we had to get the scoop on this trending topic. we reached out to the dot-grid guru herself, rachel wilkerson miller.
being the early adopter that she is, she was dot journaling before all the cool kids. but even before that, she was blogging before basically everyone and their dog starting penning their thoughts in pixels. in fact, she was one of the first bloggers out there to blog about fitbook, way back when. since then, she’s gone on to crush life, adding lifestyle editor at BuzzFeed + published author to her resumé. with her book, “Dot Journaling―A Practical Guide” released just this year, we sat down with her to pick her paper-planning brain for top tips to tackle this trend of dot-grid journaling.
author's admission: i have previously tried to “get” bullet journaling – but honestly, it seemed like too much work. this is precisely why rachel wrote her book. she was determined to create a simple way of explaining this concept.
“turns out, bullet journaling is an incredibly simple concept that is remarkably difficult to explain, in part because “you do you” is such a major aspect of it—meaning everyone does it a little differently, and there are no real rules. and, over time, the internet has transformed the basic idea—using simple symbols and dot-grid journals to record the things that matter most—into what i’ve come to think of as “dot journaling” . . . aka, a creative, colorful, robust, and—listen, take this with a large grain of salt—pinteresty version of the original concept.
so, what exactly is a dot journal? it’s like a planner + to-do list + diary all in one spot, organized the way that works best for you. and that’s the important part: there’s no right or wrong way to do it! but, if you’re like me + want a little guidance to get started, keep reading.
grab a darling-dotted journal + hold onto your pens because these note-taking tips might just rock your journal world. here are 6 simple ways to get started on your dot-grid journaling journey:
flip to the first page, write “index” really pretty. and, end scene. (just joking.) this is where you’ll record topics + corresponding page numbers so you can easily flip to them later on. if your dot-grid journal isn’t pre-numbered for you, this is a good time to get creative + number those now…or just do it as you go. for example, if my 2018 goals are on page 2 and my habit tracker is on page 4, i would just make note of those in my index. easy peasy!
[create a key]
this is the heart of dot-journaling, but don’t over-complicate this part! this is essentially a set of symbols, short-cuts or colors that you create to make your note-taking efficient. here’s an example of some commonly-used symbols to indicate the status of a task:
● = to do
x = done
> = migrated
> = scheduled
/ = cancelled
- = note
take it a step further with color to categorize. for me, i have colors to categorize appointments on my phone calendar (red=work, purple=personal, blue=fitness + orange=travel, yellow=event/social), so i continue that theme into categorizing items in my dot journal. rachel goes into more detail in her book, just btw.
[jot down tasks + to-don’ts]
often times, it’s the things we’re doing that hold us back even more the things we’re NOT doing. if your to-do list is overwhelming, considering creating a to-don’t list to simplify your life. rachel explains a to-don’t list as “a way to remind yourself of the things you stand for,” which can be helpful when working toward goals.
[track weekly habits]
the fastest way to goal getter status? put habits into place that get you there. want one place to track all those things you want to do every day, but forget? hello, habit tracker. simply jot down your ideal day down the side and days of the week across the top. then check, color, or creatively mark off each day to see visual progress. you can divide into morning, evening, or anytime habits – whatever tickles your ocd-fancy.
we’re no strangers to gratitude in these parts, but maybe keeping a structured gratitude journal isn’t your thing. using this simple format, you can simply jot down 1 thing you’re you’re grateful each day. or 2 or 3. the beauty of this format is you can do what works for you. another idea for this spread would be 1 thing you’re praying for that day or 1 prayer that was answered. the idea is to quickly reflect + record those things that matter most.
want a way to track habits that you do sporadically? things like “review goals” i may want to be reminded monthly, but maybe “revisit budget” is more of quarterly thing. this sweet spread gently nudges you to revisit things that are important to you – when they’re relevant.
are you ready to get going? well, you wouldn’t hit the gym without the proper attire, so just like you gear up with snazzy sneakers + spandex, you need to stock up. yes, you can go crazy later with fancy pens, stickers, washi tape + all that jazz, but here are the necessities to start pushing your pen around:
get her book.
like it legit inspired me to start lists that have forever been in my mind. she teaches you how to get started on spreads for tracking finances, travel plans, and healthy habits. if you’re an uber-dork like me, you might even create a list of lists – a spread devoted to what new pages you want to pen. on mine: books i've read + want to read, a go-to gift list, wines i love, business idea brainstorms…shall i go on? the opportunities are endless! point being, this guide is like the go-to written by the dot-grid guru herself, so get it.
get grid gear.
i came up with the idea to create cute little sets of tiny tote-able noteable journals because i needed something bigger than sticky notes but smaller than a planner – the perfect little size notebook to tuck away in a purse or pocket or even a gym bag or briefcase. the best part of these little dynamic duos are 1) there are 3 ultra-adorable designs to choose from and 2) each journal sports dot-grid pages on the left + plain-lined pages on the right so you can have the best of both-lined worlds.
your noteable-goal guide,