Businesses are complicated, especially when you’re the one starting it.
There are so many things to think about and it gets overwhelming at times – scratch that – it gets overwhelming almost all the time. You need to be in control of almost every aspect of it from its conception to the execution. You need to be doing 3 things at once, and you have to be doing them all well.
You miss one thing and it’s a sunk cost already.
Sometimes you just feel lost, running around in circles feeling helpless. The business plan? It’s pretty much just a bundle scrap paper now. Soon the doubts creep in, and the odds just seem more insurmountable with each passing moment.
And that’s just the start.
When the going gets tough, the people start talking. All of a sudden people are starting to tell you to quit, all of a sudden people are telling you you don’t have what it takes. After a time, you start to believe them.
Business is hard, both for the mind and the body.
I know this because back when I was a fresh grad out of college, wide-eyed and green, I set off to start my own business. Long story short, I’m trying my luck with another business now six years later and my first attempt didn’t even have anything slightly related to anything online.
I guess it all worked out. Now, I get to try again with more experience and tools to work it out.
I’m not writing all this to scare you off, or to discourage you. I’m writing this because had I been equipped with the proper tools and experience I have now, it might have been a different story.
And, you guessed it, one of those tools is the bullet journal.
For those who are new, the bullet journal is a planner system that’s meant to improve productivity and mindfulness. It’s a way to balance out your personal life and work life, allowing you to grow in different aspects equally.
It was created by Ryder Carroll when he was in high school. Being diagnosed with attention deficit disorder(ADD), he developed this system to help him overcome the difficulties he faced from both falling behind and the stress it created.
It’s a system that has a few core components that let you have a good overview of your plans, as well as other components that you can add to better suit your needs. Its flexible nature has resonated with a lot of people, creating a community called the bujo community.
- 1 Bullet Journal Core Components
- 2 Benefits of The Bullet Journal For Business
- 3 Ideal Spreads For Business
- 4 Tips For Using Your Bullet Journal For Business
Bullet Journal Core Components
To start a bullet journal, it’s as easy as getting a spare notebook and getting to know the core components.
- Key Signifier
- Future Log
- Monthly Log
- Weekly/Daily Log
Key Signifier For Business
The key signifier is simply your legend chart.
Once you start using the bullet journal, you’ll be adding symbols to describe what to do with the entry. These keys are what you base them on. This is usually placed at the beginning so it’s easy to come back to.
While you can choose any symbol or meaning you want, the standard keys are:
• = Tasks
– = Notes
○ = Events
> = Migrate to next day or period of time
< = Migrate to future log
* = Priority
! = Inspiration
For business, specifically, you don’t really need to change anything, or if you do, make sure that it’s simple and that it’ll work better for you. Otherwise, this key is pretty solid in how it describes the entries you’ll be putting in.
Index For Business
The Index will act as your table of contents.
Since the notebook isn’t preset and there are no page numbers, you’ll be numbering them yourself, and you’ll be logging each collection here.
A collection is basically the bujo term for sections. If you want to have access to the whole glossary, check it out here.
The standard way to make an index is to just leave a few blank pages at the start after the key signifier and label it Index. Simple.
For business, the standard method will be effective enough. I don’t really recommend changing the index because the simpler the better.
Future Log For Business
If you want an overview for a large period of time, the future log will be the one helping you with that.
Here, you’ll be logging all your entries that are due months in advance. This will include any tasks, events, ideas, or anything else. As long as you want to remember it for that month, you can place it there.
The standard future log is mainly making boxes on a page, whether by splitting the pages into three equal parts with a horizontal line and labeling it or by simply using the whole page to house a single month.
How you set it up is up to you. The standard version will also work well for business. However, if you want a simpler setup, or maybe something more detailed, you can check out the other methods in this article here.
Personally, I suggest getting to know how to use the future log more.
This feature gives you a good look at the bigger picture, which you need. And you will need it because once you’re in the thick of things, having this will remind you of your progress and where you specifically are.
You can build and plan out your year, setting goals and deadlines using this. You can place milestones, and you can even celebrate the small victories with this.
If nothing else, the future log will be one of the best features specifically for business.
Monthly Log For Business
With the monthly log, we’re getting a closer perspective of things.
You can plan out your month based on the future log, and any tasks you may have missed from the last month you can migrate it here.
It’s a simple but effective concept, and the layout is easy to make.
First, you’ll need to clear about 2 pages for this spread.
Number the first pages with the exact amount of rows as there are days in the month. Beside the number, label them with the first letter of the day they fall on.
For the second page, just label it monthly log, and list all the entries that are relevant for that month.
There isn’t really anything special you need to do here to build it around the business. The standard way works fine.
Weekly/Daily Log For Business
I usually bunch these two together because depending on the demands of the user, you might be better off using just one.
For business, unless you have the type of business that you’ll need to have a good overview of the week, I suggest going with daily logs.
This is where the nitty-gritty happens, and where you’ll be logging everything that happens to you.
You’ll want to familiarize yourself with rapid-logging for better record keeping.
Rapid-logging is the practice of continuously logging everything of note that happens to you during the day so you have a record of it.
It doesn’t really matter what, but as long as you deem it important, you can log it.
This will come in handy later, whenever you need to look back at certain details you might have missed.
To make a daily log, simply turn to a blank page, write the date at the earliest available space and start rapid-logging your day.
Benefits of The Bullet Journal For Business
The bullet journal has many benefits for its general users. Since the system is extremely flexible, building it around your needs will often lead to benefits independent of its main offerings.
Here are some of your journal is built around your business:
- All-in-one Notebook
- Time Management
- Self – Care
- Tracking Finances
- Tracking Goals
This is always the hard part with record-keeping in business, or even anywhere in general.
With all the ever-changing demands of the daily grind, sometimes you just grab a piece of paper and write your notes there. Soon enough, you’ll have a pile of crumpled paper littering your desk with you not knowing where anything is.
You decide you’re going digital, now you have a dozen apps, with notes scattered around your memo or digital planner with no way of tracking it properly.
Congratulations, now you have physical and digital clutter.
That’s where the bullet journal comes in.
It will let you collate and organize everything on your plate, neatly and easy to access.
You arrange your bullet journal in a way that will let you keep track of everything for your business, and be able to efficiently plan it out using your daily log.
So now you can just keep logging notes and enter them via your daily log, being able to migrate them to where they need to be at the end of the day.
For everything else, you can organize them in one collection and just log it into your index.
Here’s a video of Ryder Carroll showing you how to make a proper collection.
Time is a valuable thing. For business, it’s even more important.
You can work your butt off all day, and still not have enough time to finish what you’re doing. I get that. And while you can’t ever shake that off completely, having a bullet journal will definitely help.
One of the features that will help you with that is the migration process. This works by setting aside time to plan out the next day. Any unfinished tasks will then be migrated to the day, and the next until it’s done.
The thing is, this is the time you can analyze which items or entries are really worth the time and effort. You can save time, and energy by just canceling the tasks or moving it further down the line when you really need to take care of it.
You can also create a collection specifically for your timeline based on your business plan, giving you a good overview of your goals for a period of time. You might want to take advantage of the Calendex Method for your future log if you want to incorporate it into your general overview of the year.
Of course, the ultimate goal is for your business to be profitable and to be able to stand on its own. However, along the way, there will be many smaller goals that will need clearing.
This is the perfect way to do it.
You can set your trackers up that you can track certain sales goals, milestones, or whatever it is that you need to achieve to be able to progress.
This will give you a better idea if you’re moving forward or stagnating, and will also give you a good bearing of where you stand along the path of your final goal.
Aside from being able to watch your progress, having you see your progress will boost your motivation and help you keep mentally strong.
In the end, it will always be up to you to keep pushing yourself.
From your income Statement to your Balance Sheet, everything you need to track can be included here.
There are many financial trackers you can keep, and all of them will be able to be incorporated into your notebook for easier tracking. You can use the daily log to counter check all your entries in them, as well as organize your schedule and action plan according to them.
This way you won’t have to keep a folder full of papers or navigate through a sea of excels file in your computer. You can access them quite easily as long as you have your notebook, and you want to have to worry about misplacing one because they’re all in one place.
Quick tip, you can even incorporate the daily cash flow into your daily log, to make it easier to track. I would suggest doing this once you’re making money though, otherwise, it would just hurt to look at every day.
Planning and finding creative solutions will always be a necessity in business. In an ever-changing battleground, you need to find different perspectives and attack problems in a way that your competition hasn’t yet.
With the bullet journal, there are tools that can help you with that, and having them in a collection that you can always come back to will let you plan more efficiently and conveniently.
You’ll be able to plan anywhere and at any time.
What’s more, the analog nature of the bullet journal and having to write things by hand have their own benefits too. This way, you can process data even more accurately and have the distractions that you normally have on the computer or in your cell phone unavailable to you.
The distraction is normal, everybody with a phone knows how easy it is to get lost scrolling down your youtube feed for hours.
For the brainstorming tools, please see the Brain Dump and Mind Map below.
Aside from that, these same tools will help you retain information better, and comprehend them more easily. Feel free to use them whenever necessary and not just for brainstorming.
As previously mentioned, the bullet journal isn’t just for improving your productivity, it’s also for improving you as a whole.
You can’t have a well-balanced development if you let your work consume your life. The bullet journal makes it so you can insert your hobbies, track habits, and make time for actually doing them.
The overview of your day or year isn’t all for work, it’s also for planning your vacations in between, the get-togethers you want to go to, and the events you want to celebrate.
So, take full advantage of the trackers. Track your sleep, or may your exercise time. If you like meditating, be sure to include it in your plan for the day. You can even track your diet, so you won’t have to worry about those days when you’re extra stressed, so you eat those extra snacks.
Overall, the effects of having a healthy body, as well as being happy and positive, will significantly boost your productivity in the long run. It’s a win-win for you, really.
Ideal Spreads For Business
- Financial Trackers
- Schedule Tracker
- Goal Tracker
- Brain Dump
- Mind Map
- Reading Log
- Sleep Tracker
If you want to build your bullet journal around your business, financial trackers are pretty much a must for your financial analysis.
If’s imperative that you have this close in hand since you’ll be doing most of your planning around this at the end of every day or month. What you can do is set up collections, probably near the end, or maybe start at the end for these. Log them into your index for easy access, and you track them with your notebook every month
Aside from the cash flow, almost everything else will work for the month anyway. Your income statement, operating budget, and break-even analysis can all have a dedicated collection of their own.
You can even add more financial trackers for your personal life and compare them.
What’s important here is that you can also use the brainstorming tools along with this to create solid strategies, and you can find patterns using your daily log to run against your records. This way, you’ll have a clear idea of each thing that happens that directly affects a certain aspect of your business.
For example, if you find that you’re expenses are going up for a period of time, you can go back to your daily log and check on what might have caused it. It’s really just looking for the root of the problem and nipping it on the butt.
Again, you can incorporate your business plan with this, whether through a separate collection or by using the future log and incorporating it there.
This will help you get your goals and schedule in check, allowing you to get a good grasp of where you are in your execution and if you are doing it well.
This is a good way to build plans for the short and long term, as well as refine it according to the changing landscape of your business –which will happen often.
Goal trackers are simple to make but very effective.
It’s as simple as listing down your immediate goals and checking them off once you achieve them. In conjunction with the schedule tracker, I believe that this will help you plan better and keep a better track of your progress.
Also, a good parameter to track is the number of days that had passed before achieving the last goal. It will help spur you on if you’re falling behind, and have you become more accountable for your actions.
The brain dump is one of the tools mentioned that can greatly enhance the results of your brainstorming sessions.
It’s pretty simple to do as well. Just set aside some alone time, turn to a blank page, and start writing everything in your mind regarding your business.
This is typically done without any restrictions, writing down everything from your personal to work life. However, you can choose which methods will work better for you.
All that matters are the results.
Once you’ve listed all your concerns down, it’s now time to classify them and arrange them by priority.
With these results, you’ll have a new set of data you can analyze for your business.
The mind map is the second tool that can help you when you’re brainstorming.
I typically do both brain dumping and mind mapping, with brain dumping going first. This will help narrow down what you came up with during the brain dump.
The mind map works by taking advantage of how the brain works. It does this by using imagery, keywords, and colors.
A mind map is created by, again, setting aside time, taking a blank spread of usually 2 pages, and drawing your main idea at the center of it.
After doing so, write all the keywords you can think of around it. Connect it to the main image by drawing a line, you can color code this to have a better effect.
It should look like a tree now.
Add more branches by thinking of more keywords related to each keyword written, and take it from there.
This tool is very useful at dissecting the main idea and following a train of thought. It’ll let you attack things with a different perspective and will let you think up creative solutions.
The average CEO reads 60 books in a year. Bill Gates reads an average of 50.
There really isn’t much debate, reading books is good.
They let you gain different insights and perspectives, and they exercise your mind.
This tracker will be really useful for you if you want to grow as an entrepreneur and a person.
Sleep is a luxury when you’re starting a business. But that doesn’t mean you can’t regulate it as much as you can.
Ariana Huffington endorses good sleep of at least 8 hours.
More sleep means more focus, positivity, and more energy. There really isn’t a downside to having the right amount of sleep.
This tracker, while good for all aspects of your development, will help you manage your sleeping schedules.
Tips For Using Your Bullet Journal For Business
- Have fun with it
- Celebrate small goals
- Decide on Analog vs Digital
- Printables and Stickers
Have Fun With It
It’s not all work with the bullet journal.
The main point of it is balance. If you’re not balanced in your approach, that’s basically where you start experiencing the bad things that usually happen.
It’s either having your relationships or personal life suffer, over having a well-running business, or vice versa. Sometimes, it’s really just the bad things that happen.
Just remember that there’s more to life than work.
Celebrate Small Goals
Celebrating small goals will do wonders for your positivity and motivation. Of course, you’re going to need a lot of both when starting a business.
It’s also a good way to judge where you are, and to keep up the momentum.
Over time, you’ll see that all those small victories have compounded into something great.
Decide Whether Analog Vs Digital
What I discussed above is all analog.
There are many benefits to it, plus it’ll help you disconnect from technology. However, you might find that digital better suits you.
If that’s the case, feel free to switch. There are many apps that can simulate the bullet journal experience.
The bullet journal even has its own app.
Printables and Stickers
Printables and stickers are things you can buy online. They’re premade collections and they can help you save time and decorate your notebook easily.
It’s also great if you lack artistic skills… like me.