How to Use a Bullet Journal as a Leader’s Book

Last week I talked about the differences between a Bullet Journal and a Leader’s Book. I concluded that the best and worst thing about a Bullet Journal is that it allows for too much freedom. In order to be a successful bullet journalist, you need to determine what kind of information your book will contain, and then define a system for recording, processing, and reviewing your data. Luckily, the Bullet Journal provides standardized methods that are simple and flexible, and the Leader’s Book provides the required structural elements. Combined, you’ll develop a powerful tool for organizing and leading troops.

Before we talk about how to use a Bullet Journal as a Leader’s Book, we should briefly review the key Bullet Journal methods.

1. The Index

The Index serves as the table of contents for the Bullet Journal. It is frequently referenced as more and more information is recorded. For every record in the journal, there is a corresponding entry in the Index that provides the topic and page number.

2. Collections

Related pieces of information are recorded under a given topic. Collections can span or thread across multiple pages as needed. Every page in a Bullet Journal is a Collection by definition. They are much more than just lists; collections can serve as phone books, mind-maps, meeting notes, shopping lists, brainstorming, training records, etc.

The Bullet Journal defines four standard collections that should be included in every journal.

Future Log This is where you record all events that are occurring in the future. It is not necessary for this list to be in chronological order. Records in the Future Log are moved to the Monthly Log when the corresponding monthly collection is created.
Monthly Log This is where you organize events that are happening during the current month. For this reason, the Monthly Log is implicitly chronological. There should be room for an entry for each day of the month. Anything that is not happening in the current month should be recorded in the Future Log.
Daily Log This is your “working log” where you record day-to-day activities as they happen.
Other This is every other topic page. Other Collections can be anything you want. If you have a lot of Collections, it may be helpful to have a list of your Collections with corresponding page number not unlike the Index.

3. Rapid Logging

These are the “bullets”, or signifiers, in a Bullet Journal. Each record begins with a particular bullet to signify an action that should take place in the future. For example, a to-do item could have a small dot or box at the beginning of the record that can be checked-off when the to-do item is completed. A note might begin with just a simple dash mark so it can be easily recalled in the future. And a scheduled appointment in the Daily Log may be signified by a triangle.

4. Migration

Consistent review is what makes the budding bullet journalist successful. Review your records at the end of each day and month, and move any entries that need to be actioned later to the appropriate log or collection.

The Leader’s Bullet Journal

To us a Bullet Journal as a Leader’s Book, it is simply a matter of moving the reference items into Other Collections. There are no reserved pages in a Bullet Journal (except the Index and Future Log), so we don’t want to create a Collection until we have some data to put into it. But we usually have some ready reference items.

This requires some planning before breaking into our new journal. It is a good idea to start by making a list of the reference items we already have data for. Usually, these will be:

  • Important Phone Numbers
  • Post Services
  • Personel Roster
  • Equipment Status
  • Training Records
  • Duties & Responsibilities
  • Items or Habits to Track

Give some thought to what other reference items you would like to have available in your book. If you have data for these collections, add them to your list of ready reference items. If you have an idea for a Collection but no data to put into it yet, add it to a list of collections.

Tip: I actually like to keep a Collection of collection ideas in my book.

Next, order your list of ready reference items from 1 to N in the order you would like them to appear in your book. Again, give this some thought and try visualizing your layout on scratch paper. When you are ready, it is time to build your new book.

If your notebook pages are not numbered, you’ll need to go through the book and number them. The easy way to do this is to number only the odd pages.

On the first page of your notebook, or possibly on the inside cover, you’ll want to put your contact information. I always put my rank, name, unit, official email, and personal cell phone. Hopefully, if you misplace your journal or leave it somewhere by accident, someone will contact you and let you know where it is.

Now we need to create the Index and Future Log. In order to keep to the idea that there are no reserved pages in a Bullet Journal, I prefer to only reserve one page each for the Index and Future Log. Once these become full I can simply thread them out onto the next blank page in the notebook.

Next, we use our reference items list to create our Collections, and then finally, we create the first Monthly Log immediately after our Collections. This finished our basic layout so we can begin to use the Bullet Journal methods to maintain our Leader’s Book. As you use your book you’ll come up with a multitude of ideas for your next book. Feel free to record these thoughts in your Daily Log. After all, that’s what it is there for.