There will always be a place for paper and pen and analogue planning, but every year more and more apps are developed for phones and tablet devices, and the easier and more accessible it has become to jump into digital planning.
I’ve been a fan of the bullet journal system for years. I’ve enjoyed the simplicity of it, and the ease with which you can create collections and templates to better suit your needs and particular lifestyle. I’ve had my own system for many years, but recently it doesn’t seem to be holding up as well as I need it to.
I’ve lauded Notion as the perfect all-in-one tool for a while now, and I’ve even shared my digital workspace. I open up Notion every day I sit down to get some work done, and so it isn’t that surprising that its functionality has extended into bullet journaling.
Get the Template!
Just here to get the bullet journal template? Click the link below, and duplicate it to your own workspace. Then you’re ready to get started!
Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve found myself reaching for my notebook less and less, and I was forgetting to write things down. When I started using Notion at the beginning of 2021, it took the brunt of that burden, but there were still things I was missing – things that my Notion workspace wasn’t catching.
A little over a month ago, I decided to try creating a daily log template in notion, and I haven’t looked back since. It was simple and easy to do once I had established what I would use as a basic signifier for each entry. With synced blocks, it was easy to create a key, and for that key to be readily accessible and changeable each time I began rapid logging.
Because I was using it so often, even more so than my regular notebook, and I could easily access it through my phone, I began focusing solely on my Notion calendar as my bullet journal. One thing I always struggled with previously was the repetition of things I didn’t manage to get done into subsequent days. It felt like a waste of precious notebook real estate, and switching to weekly logs just didn’t work for me. When your bullet journal is confined to a digital space, you don’t have to worry about making mistakes or wasting pages.
I now start every morning sitting down to start rapid logging, and I’ve found I’m forgetting less and getting more done. Having access to my daily log on my phone means I don’t have to worry about carrying around a notebook, and I feel more organized than I’ve ever been.
Naturally, that got me thinking, and I began to develop a bullet journal template around that idea.
A Different Kind of Bullet Journal
There are plenty of other bullet journal templates that people have customized for themselves. A quick google search will show you dozens of really intricate and beautiful templates if that’s the sort of thing you’re going for.
But not everyone needs all those extra bits and pieces or wants to have their whole lives on Notion. What I wanted to create was the purest bullet journal experience that I could, but as a Notion template instead of with a notebook. Something you could start using immediately and not have to worry about customizing and setting up.
I wanted to create something aesthetic and easy on the eyes but still extremely functional – and I don’t just mean when you’re sitting at your pc. I want it to be functional even when you pull it up on your phone or iPad.
I went back to the basics of the bullet journal system and began building this template starting with those principles, and I’ve outlined the steps for you here, so you can create one of your own.
Replicating the Analogue Experience
A bullet journal consists of a handful of key elements:
- the daily log – the bread and butter of the system and where the bulk of the work takes place
- the monthly log – a place for you to note key dates for the current month
- a future log – a place for making note of upcoming events beyond the current month
- the index – the place at the beginning of the journal where you make note of collections so you can keep track of information
- the key – the signifiers you use to denote the different elements – tasks, events, appointments, etc.
I wanted my Notion template to replicate these basics as closely as it could. I know that Notion is capable of much more, and I’ve seen the incredibly detailed task managers that people have built, but I like simple logging. I like the ease and simplicity of it. That was part of the appeal, and I didn’t want to lose that when creating a digital version.
The Index and Key
The most important features here are the synced blocks that will make up your key and your index. With a synced block, anything you change in one will change in every other block of its kind. Thus, if you make a change to a signifier or add a signifier, you can add it to any key, and it will appear in all of them.
The same applies to the index. If you make a new collection, start a new year, etc., you simply have to add it to the synced index block and it will show up everywhere.
Type /sync, and the synced block will appear. You can use whatever heading you like, and then begin adding in the elements you will use for a key. I would recommend something quickly recognizable and easy to create while typing. Then do the same for the index, though don’t worry about what you will put inside just yet.
The Daily Log
Next is the daily log, as that is the bread and butter of the bullet journal system, and the part that is going to see the most use.
Create a new page, and title it @today. This will assign this specific page with a date – whatever date you choose to start bullet journaling.
The regular bullet journal daily log is plain – you simply note the date at the top and start writing, but it can get hard to navigate digitally. Return to your bullet journal dashboard and copy those synced blocks (your index and key), placing them where you like in this daily log template we are building. You can hide it behind a toggle to keep your daily log as clean as possible, or create columns as I’ve done in mine. Now your key and your index will be easily accessible whenever you are rapid logging. The same is true when you need to migrate things to certain collections.
This is your chance to design your daily log page the way you like. If you’re looking for something similar to an analogue bullet journal experience, I recommend keeping it clean, uncluttered, and simple.
Once you’re finished, we’re going to create a template button, which you can do by typing in /template. The template block will duplicate whatever you put into it, and you can use it to generate a new daily log at the start of each day.
Click on the gear to the right and clear away anything that generates in the bottom box. Then drag your daily log into the box and press close. Voila! With the magical press of a button you can generate a new daily log!
The Monthly Log
How you choose to format the monthly log is up to you. For my template, I decided to replicate the traditional bullet journal format and created a plain table (which you can create by typing /table) with all of the numbers of the month on one side, and an empty box on the other for me to fill with appointments. If you’d rather create a database and calendar, or keep the format loose, that is up to you.
Same as with the daily log, I created a template button, so a new monthly log can be generated at will. You only have to make the template one time, and Notion will take care of the rest!
The Future Log
Much like the monthly log, how you choose to structure this is up to you. I designed mine with general headings for each month and a place to note down important dates in bullet form. With a synced index, you can migrate things to your monthly log as needed, so by the end of the year, your future log would be empty and naturally ready for the next.
You could also create individual monthly pages, or a database in gallery view so you can quickly see the contents of each month.
Archiving and Databases
Finally we come to the most difficult aspect of any sort of digital bullet journaling system. Any notebook that occupies a digital space is, for all intents and purposes, infinite. Thus it becomes difficult to navigate and organize when used long-term.
To solve this, I decided the best option would be to create two databases – one that would hold all the monthly and daily logs for the year, and a second which I called the notebook, which would be a handy place to store more important notes and collections you didn’t want to lose.
In creating the yearly database, you don’t need to do much. A place to preserve the date, and a place to organize the collection will suffice. You can also create a blank database and add it to another template button, so you can launch a new year whenever you need to.
When you are finished with the current year, I would create a new page simply called archive to store them. Then everything will be sorted by year in a sort of digital bookshelf. Not a chaotic mess of 4000 individual pages, but organized in a way that is actually accessible should you need to refer to them in the future. The same can be done for the notes.
Consider Your Needs
Up to this point, you have created a fairly basic bullet journal template in Notion that can replicate most if not all of the traditional analogue system. But the bullet journal community has thrived on the fact that these simple elements can be adapted to suit the needs of the user, and the bullet journal can be moulded to suit any sort of lifestyle, and include all sorts of things like habit trackers and budgeting. What you choose to include will depend on you, and how your bullet journal or planner fits into your daily life.
You can also take this opportunity to choose a colour palette, or add inspirational quotes and images to beautify your digital bullet journal. The choice is yours!
Download My Notion Template
If you’re eager to try bullet journaling in Notion, but can’t be bothered to try making one yourself, I’ve created one based on everything I’ve outlined here, and you can get access to it by clicking the button below!
As I’ve mentioned before, I designed this bullet journal to replicate the traditional system as closely as I could, and I wanted to make sure it would look good and functional no matter what device you decide to use it on. But it also has a lot of room to grow and space to accommodate whatever you want to add to it.
Make sure you are logged in to Notion, and when you arrive on the page, simply duplicate the bullet journal to your own workspace, and then you can make any necessary adjustments to it.
Note: The link will take you to a Gumroad page, but the template is free!
If you decide to use it, I’d love to know how it’s working for you! And please let me know if you have any suggestions on how to improve it, or to better capture that traditional bullet journal system we all know and love.
Interested in learning more about Notion? Check out these posts:
- How I Use Notion to Organize My Writing
- 10 Reasons Why You Might Want to Use Notion (& 5 Reasons Why You Might Not)
Have you tried bullet journaling digitally? What program did you use and how did it work for you? Let me know in the comments below!