I mentioned in my overview article about Dynalist that I keep my digital bullet journal using the app. In this follow-up article, I will be discussing a few specifics about how and why I’ve chosen Dynalist for this purpose.
Note: The Bullet Journal system was developed by Ryder Carroll. I believe it is a trademark of his, so I will try to respect it as such. Whether you choose to use a paper journal, as Ryder suggests, or some digital solution as I am writing about, I do highly recommend you read Ryder’s book, The Bullet Journal Method.
If you’re not familiar with bullet journaling, I recommend you can read about it here. The concept is very interesting. It is one of the few information management systems that really has connected with me.
The key aspects of bullet journaling (in my view) are as follows:
Rapid logging. This means being able to quickly record key information, whether that’s a phone number you need to remember, a task you need to attend to, an action you may want to reference in the future — really any information you feel you might want to remember later.
Visual cues. Being able to scan your entries and quickly determine what each is: Note, Task or Event; and signifiers which provide some additional information about the entry — is it important, is it inspirational, does it need some additional information.
Organizing by date. A bullet journal is a running list of notes, but they are organized by date to help you find them, and to place them in some context.
There are many other optional things you can do to organize your bullet journal, but the above three are the ones most important to me. Some of the others — such as an index, future log, monthly pages — are part of the reason I have difficulty maintaining a paper bullet journal. But having a digital journal eliminates the need for those.
I won’t spend any time explaining why Dynalist is a solid place for my bullet journal. I hope that will be revealed as I describe my process.
Creating the date entries
The foundation of a digital bullet journal is setting up your dates. You can, of course, manually do this, but that would be very tedious. Fortunately, there is a nifty little free app available that will create plain text files with the months and days of any given year broken out with tab indents. It is a Windows app called Automatic Diary Generator. You can find it here.
You may need to experiment a little to get it to output in a format that works for you.
If you are Mac exclusive, I can send you a text file of the current year. Just send me an email requesting the file and put “2019 Diary” in the subject line.
Once you have the text file the way you want it, open it in a text editor, copy all the text, create a new document (outline) in Dynalist with the title of your bullet journal then paste the text into the new outline.
The screencast below demonstrates how to do this and what the result is.
Mimicking the notebook page
The photo below shows a sample list of entries for March 23:
Per the Bullet Journal system, small dot bullets designate tasks. An X through the bullet means the task is complete. Hyphens designate a note. An asterisk signifies that the entry is more important.
The screen shot at the start of this article shows how I replicated the same information from the paper notebook in Dynalist. Instead of the asterisks, I used color to mark the important entries. I could have used a tag (#important), and then I could filter the entire bullet journal for just important entries.
Linking to “collection” pages
One of the suggested uses of a bullet journal is creating “collection” pages. These are lists of notes related to a specific topic that it will be more efficient to keep together than spread through out your journal. Dynalist works great for creating collections, and using the hyperlink feature means that you can easily reference a collection on a specific day in your journal. The screencast below demonstrates this process:
Summing it up
There are many other ways to adapt the Bullet Journal Method to Dynalist. But the beauty of bullet journaling is its flexibility. Everyone can make it their own. I hope that in this post I’ve given a starting point for how Dynalist can be used for creating a bullet journal.
But I will also say this: Using a paper notebook is probably even better if you can do so. It pulls you away from the noise and distraction of your computer. I’ve managed to maintain a paper journal from time to time, but I have had to be honest with myself. A digital journal — especially using Dynalist — just works better for me.