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Bullet Journaling has been a hot trend for a while, but a bullet journal in digital format may not be something that you’ve tried… yet. If not, you’re in for a treat. If you love to-do lists and check-lists, and you want something convenient that can go anywhere this is something you don’t want to miss.
The Bullet Journal Goes Digital
If you have too many things to remember and think about on a daily basis and you need a simple system to help you keep track, bullet journaling was made for you. We all have a lot of different daily tasks and appointments; trying to keep track of everything becomes exhausting. Think of how much more productive and less stressed you’ll be if you could clear your mind from all this “stuff.”
However, with multiple big tasks to keep track of, traditional paper bullet journaling has its limits. If you’re juggling work, home, school, self care or improvement, and other people’s tasks or schedules, compartmentalizing is key. Here is where digital bullet journaling has a leg up on the traditional paper bullet journal.
Bullet Journal + Digital = Dijo
You might be familiar with the shortened term for bullet journal, “bujo.” I lovingly call my GoodNotes app a “dijo.” You can find a ton of different terms online – digijournal, digibujo, digital dot journal, etc. They all add up to the same thing: a bullet journal in digital format.
A bullet journal – or multiple journals in your digital app – is a way to keep track of everything you need to do. One bullet journal in your digital PDF annotation app might be all you need, however, if you’ve ever found yourself overwhelmed at how many things you need to jot down, list, or track you’ll find that multiple journals are far easier to manage in one app than a stack of notebooks.
Bujo vs. Dijo
When I used traditional bullet journals, I found that I wanted one for personal goal setting and journaling. I needed a separate planner for my daily schedule and tasks. And yet another notebook for my businesses. Finally, wouldn’t you know it, I wanted to start another dedicated to all the things for our cross-country move, new house, improvements, and getting organized at home. This is when bullet journaling stopped being an organization solution and started becoming a task in itself.
I found myself juggling multiple notebooks and planners and flipping through tons of pages, trying to find what I needed. This totally defeats the purpose, and quite honestly, left me feeling defeated as well.
If you’ve ever tried traditional bullet journaling and found yourself unable to keep up, you’re not alone. As much as I love to write stuff down (and I know it helps me) and have a stack of beautiful journals, I simply couldn’t keep up with it week after week. I found myself with extra papers that didn’t fit, sticky notes hanging out all over the place, and a stack of journals and planners that felt more overwhelming than helpful.
Something had to change.
Making the switch to digital
After taking a break from bullet journaling, I found a new digital solution that I’d never heard of before. The bullet journal – digital style. At the time, I didn’t even have an iPad or tablet and started experimenting on my desktop – tapping around hyperlinked PDFs, trying to figure out if this was a solution or just another try-and-fail organizational system.
I needed a way to streamline. A way to shift away from organizing my notes so I could focus on organizing my life!
What I found was that a bullet journal, multiple notebooks, and my planner can all live in one simple, digital app. They can be left open to the page I need and, with the additional convenience of hyperlinks, my most important pages and sections are at my fingertips. Additionally, I can access them wherever I am – whether that is just in a different part of the house or out on the road, as long as I have my phone.
Getting Started with a Bullet Journal – Digital Edition
If you’re already using a bullet journal, you’ll find that moving to digital can be pretty comfortable. You’ll still be using the same, general set up, but you’ll find extra flexibility when you’re using your app. Let’s take a look at how paper bullet journaling translates to digital.
Index or Key
Firstly, the initial pages in every traditional dot or graph journal includes the index or key. They occupy the first two pages and track where and how the journal is set up. Whenever you start a new page or section, you simply write a note next to the page number so you know where to flip when you need it without a zillion bookmarks.
Similarly when you’re working with a bullet journal template, you’ll find the extra ease of a digital index page. However, when you track page numbers here, you’ll also be able to use the hyperlinked lines to jump to each section. Thus making navigating your new dijo exceptionally easy and quick.
The second part of a traditional paper bullet journal is collections. They are lists of related things you want to keep track of. For example, you may have a list of books you want to read, goals you want to achieve, or clients you need to contact.
Along with your collections, you may use tracking to keep an eye on where you’re at. A list of to-do, for example, might just need a simple check mark or cross-off to keep track. While other lists might continue over a period of time. Tracking business growth, exercise habits, or healthy meal planning, for example, might need more than just a single list page.
Link each of your collections in your index. From the index link, you’ll jump to a page. I think of these hyperlinked pages more as dashboards than individual pages. You see, when you bullet journal on a digital app, the number of pages you add is unlimited. So behind each of these dashboards, or mini sections, you can add pages or templates related to that collection.
Using Collections in your Dijo
Now, keep in mind that your bullet journal collections can now be their own digital file. So, for large collections with multiple parts, it may be best to set up separately from your main dijo. (More on that set-up below.) I’ll give you an example from my own business set up (for this site) on how I use collections:
Main dijo title: Dijo Site
Collection sections linked in index:
Behind each collection page I swipe to my tracking and list pages related to that topic. Behind “Marketing” for example, I have different pages for each social media account and emails. Here I can add as many pages of notes and tracking pages as I need. This helps me stay organized over longer periods of time. I’m not limited by a one year planner or a 100 page notebook.
When I used a traditional bullet journal, turning the page to make notes on whatever was going on that day – a meeting or a brainstorm session, for example – everything got all jumbled and mixed up. I never seemed to have enough pages, in the right order. Now that I’m using a bullet journal with unlimited digital pages, I always have enough space. Everything stays neatly organized with the newest information up front.
Monthly Log or Calendar Set Up
Finally, most bullet journalers want to keep a main monthly log or calendar, followed by weekly and/or daily entries. In a traditional bujo, you’d add a page to your index or a bookmark to make it easy to find. As you go along, you’d write or draw your monthly, weekly, and daily pages before you filled them in.
Many bullet journal templates, however, come stocked with multiple templates that are easy to grab and go. If you love designing your own pages, you can. But when you’re short on time or simply want to use a pre-designed layout, it’s all at your fingertips.
There are different ways to set up the planning section of your digital bullet journal. There are digital planners available that are completely pre-made. However, if you’re setting up your dijo with the bullet journal lists, this might be too much structure for you.
Setting Up a Digital Planner in Your Bullet Journal
Here’s a recommendation that stays true to traditional bullet journaling style while making the most of the digital hyperlinks available.
- Create 4 sections for planning in your index, label them annual, monthly, weekly, daily (or whatever feels right to you).
- On the linked pages, create a dashboard with the title of your section.
- Insert template(s) into each section by duplicating a template and dragging it behind the dashboard in the designated section.
- Begin planning with the first month/week/day on your template.
- When you need to add a fresh page, add a duplicate template before last week’s page. This makes it the first page after the dashboard in the section.
In your annual section, you can create pages for your annual calendar, appointments, birthdays and special dates, and holidays. Or even keep this one bullet journal file going for multiple years.
This will help you build a planning section in your bullet journal that always has your current page directly after your digital dashboard. That means your most frequently used pages are only one tap away from your index page at all times. Over time you will have a digital planner in reverse order – newest pages on top. With older pages behind that you can swipe to if you need to go back.
Choosing a Digital Bullet Journal Template
You’re ready to give digital bullet journaling a try. Before you start your first bullet journal, you need to decide on the type of digital template you want to use. Next up, I’ll give you a quick overview over the three main styles. This should make your decision easier. One great thing about these templates is that they’re infinitely reusable. So if you find one you love, you can use it for multiple journals inside your app. You may find that one style is perfect for your planning needs while another.
Using a digital notebook for your bullet journal
The most simple design to get you started and comfortable navigating your new dijo is a digital notebook. Like a traditional multi-subject notebook, these include several sections that you can use for your planning or collection pages. Unlike traditional notebooks, you’ll have a small variety of template options to use. These link to your index and other sections in your notebook. These frequently include ruled, graph, dot grid, and blank pages.
I use our digital composition notebook for the business bullet journal I described above. It’s a perfect fit – enough to keep me organized without ton of links and pages to track. This journal is extra flexible with 4 page templates and 8 covers, so you can create multiple journals with different covers.
The advantage is that it’s easy and inexpensive to play around with. The disadvantage is that digital notebooks have a limited number of templates available, and a minimum amount of sections. That being said, this might be the exact type of flexibility you want. If you’re new to digital, I’d recommend trying a simple digital notebook first. It’s an easy way to get to know the ins and outs of you app.
Using a bullet journal-style digital notebook
Another great starter option is using a bullet journal-style digital notebook. If you’re transitioning from a traditional bujo, this may be the option to go for first. These templates give you the look of traditional bullet journals in addition to hyperlinked tabs/buttons for easy navigation.
These typically have many sections linked by tabs and/or in the index(es). Available in vertical (one page) or horizontal (2 page spread) styles with the same template options – ruled, graph, dot grid, and blank. Below is an example of our horizontal bullet journal-style digital notebook. This particular journal has 120 hyperlinked pages and is divided into 4 sections, each with a different template style.
More linked pages in this style gives you the option to set add more pages and collections in your index. Especially fun if you want to create one digital bullet journal to rule them all!
Bullet Journal with Multiple Templates
The third option is possibly the more advanced one. Can you use these as your first journal? Absolutely. It may take a little time to set up and has a bit of a learning curve. That said, with a little experimentation, you’ll soon have a digital journal that is more capable of being a planner, list maker, and home for all of your collections.
If blank pages feel intimidating or if you are short on time and can’t commit to setting up your own templates week after week, a dijo with templates is a great solution. It’s the ultimate combination of ready-to-go pages organized and designed YOUR way. Our minimal bullet journal (below) is our best seller, in both portrait and landscape styles. You’ll notice that this set-up has very minimal buttons rather than tabs and an edge-to-edge design to give you the maximum amount of workspace.
The huge benefit of having templates designed in the original bullet journal is that they are all hyperlinked to the digital index and other sections of your dijo. That means that whether you’re using a dot grid to make a list, monthly or weekly calendar set-up, or organizing your to-do with a four square template, you’ll have everything on hand and can easily navigate from page to page inside the template. This particular journal features 50 templates for flexible planning, notes, and journaling, along with 120 hyperlinked sections.
Ready make the move from bullet journal to digital journal?
Now that you have a good idea about the options for your dijo and what goes into one, are you ready to make the switch? For a little more about what you need to get started and what to look for in a bullet journal template check out: Digital Bullet Journal: 5 Must-Haves for Going Paperless
And be sure to stop by our shop to check out our bullet journal and digital notebook selection!