The moment I discovered Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal, I fell in love.
Elegant and inspiring, the Bujo simply integrates appointments, activities, ideas, and goals. It eases the crush of to-dos that never get done. The index organizes daily, monthly and long-term lists, sketches, collections of ideas – whatever information you want to memorialize – in one handy location.
I loved the system. But paper has never really worked for me. I struggled to find the right notebook and pens that wouldn’t smear or bleed. Bujo Pinterest boards distracted me, I clicked through literally hundreds of images each more elaborate than the last. I wasted reams of grid paper trying to find the perfect layout.
In the end, my Bujo typically sat unopened on my desk while I tapped away at my computer, using Evernote to organize novel and freelance ideas, clip articles from websites, record business-related information, organize images, presentations, recipes, and more.
I didn’t make the connection until someone in a minimalist Bullet Journal Facebook group posted an article from a website that is now under construction. I wish I could share the link and credit my inspiration; this is the best I can do.
In any case, here’s how I’ve spun those ideas into a system that I not only enjoy but use every day, a system that has made me more productive and offers endless inspiration.
I’m going to explain this backwards. I started with a single note – a combined Daily/Weekly Log. But my Evernote Bullet Journal lives in a “stack”, or a collection of notebooks that has evolved over time. (Learn more about notebooks and stacks here.) I keep my Daily, Monthly, and Future Logs and Habit Tracker in a notebook called *Bujo Daily (the asterisk moves the notebook to the top of the stack).
Bujo Archive, Bujo Collections, Bujo Ideas, and Bujo Templates complete my Bullet Journal stack. I use the “Top List” view so that I can see and easily access all the notes in my notebook while I’m working.
Here’s how the notes and notebooks break down:
I used the Evernote table tool and onyxandindigo.com design to create this hybrid log. The two column table has 15 rows (I combine Saturday/Sunday). On my Mac, Evernote limits table creation to six rows, but it’s simple to add rows – just Control+click inside a cell.
My Daily note has a little more structure than a standard Bujo. That’s not because I’m a structured person, it’s because I’m lazy. Rapid logging in a traditional Bullet Journal requires using symbols, which takes some extra effort on a keyboard. My gratitude list numbers automatically, as do the check boxes in my schedule section. And it seemed easier to create a bulleted list of “Reflections” than to figure out how to create an eye (exploration), or type an exclamation point (inspiration) or asterisk (priority).
Like I said, lazy.
Index & Collections
The standard Bullet Journal Index page helps you find information in your notebook. You simply write down a topic – or Collection – and record the page numbers related to that topic. Even though Evernote doesn’t have numbered pages, it does have one spectacular feature you can use to create your Index and Collections: Copy Note Link.
The note link includes the note title (how awesome is that?), so it’s just a matter of copying and pasting.
Because Evernote has an endless number of pages, I felt an Index could become unwieldy, so instead, I set up a numbered Table of Contents. It’s included in my primary notes, it connects virtually every note in my Bujo, and it looks like this:
Have I mentioned how much I love the Evernote table tool? My monthly log is an 8 column, 8 row numbered table. I use it to list birthdays, holidays, special events, important deadlines or appointments:
It took me a while to create a Future Log, and I’m still tinkering. I think of it as my “big picture” space to record major project deadlines and prepare for travel and other milestone events. Copy Note Link keeps this space connected to my project Collections:
Evernote needs one more feature, in my humble opinion, to make it the perfect Bujo space: a way to link notebooks and stacks. You can create a note with the same title as its notebook and copy that link to your Index – the note opens inside the notebook or experiment with adding saved search links.
When I started with Evernote, I copied and pasted entire the previous notes to start a new week or month. This involved a great deal of deleting and a little swearing. Then I stumbled across Uncovering Templates, the Hidden Gem of Evernote. Now I move the completed note to my archive notebook and copy a blank note to my Bujo Daily notebook:
So that’s how I Bujo, Evernote style. This is still a work in progress. I welcome questions and comments – leave a note here or find me on Facebook. I’d also love to know how you’re using Evernote as a Bullet Journal.