/ writing

A journalling method that doesn’t need an app

For those that like to keep a journal/plan, there are loads of apps that can help. The question is: do they offer the flexibility you need to manage all your life happenings?

It might be time for you to delete the apps and buy a simple notebook and pen. That’s one with paper in it. And a pen with actual ink.

Believe it or not, journalling with a real notebook has a name this days. It’s called: using an analogue journal.

But the first question that needs to be answered is: why would you write, when you could type into one of the many apps available?

Here’s the thing. I’ve never managed to find an app that gets anywhere close to providing the (important word warning) flexibility I need.

I found myself still writing stuff down on Post It Notes, the back of packets or whatever.

The other problem was: I ended up trying to manage it all across multiple apps. One doing one thing, another doing something else. It’s not a workable solution.

Then, I came across the bullet journalling.

You can check it out for yourself (and you should) but the gist of it is, you keep short notes and tasks marked up with simple notation to identify everything.

So, a bullet point denotes a task. And ‘X’ marks a completed task. A ‘>’ marks a migrated task and so on.

It was developed by a chap called Ryder Carroll because he was facing the same problem as the rest of us.

The point is, you now have a simple, effective way to cram all your crap into one notebook - and keep it organised.

The idea then, that resorting to pen and paper in a digital world, might seem a bit mad. Let’s face it, we use our smart phones for everything these days, right?


If you sense there’s a but coming, you’d be right. The thing is, as I’ve already said, there are some cool apps out there for planning and organising your life. And for keeping a journal. But what happens when you want to put it all together?

There isn’t a one size fits all app. But a notebook and a pen? An analogue journal? Really?

Yes, I’ve using a bullet journal for a little while now. And I can confirm that it works.

I’m not sure if it’s the simple notation system or the concise entries. Perhaps it’s both. But it works to the point where you start adapting it to suit yourself. And that is the main point.

Following the principles that Ryder has set out, it only takes a couple of days of entries before you start to see how useful it is.

You might be thinking as this stage that this only applies to people who are a bit anal. People who make lists and write diary entries.

The truth is, bullet journalling is for anyone that likes to be organised. To refine that further, it’s for anyone that likes to be organised - without any fluff.

All that leaves one main question.

Can you easily make the switch to pen and paper and forget using an app? I’d say yes, because we wrote before we typed, didn’t we?