My Notion Bullet Journal Setup (Template Included)

You can create a fully-functional BuJo in the Notion app!

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Casey and I are moving next month. With time winding down and tasks piling up, I’m grateful for both the bullet journal method as well as the Notion app. Either are separately effective. Combined, however, they turn into the ultimate productivity tool – at least for me.

I’ve spent hours in Notion tailoring a digital BuJo that’s digestible for my [slow] brain. And while the process isn’t perfect, it functions well. I’m ready to share it with you. I have to say that the amount of work it takes to simplify what we believe to be simple never ceases to baffle me.

Here’s the link to my Notion template.

Things you’ll need to make this setup work:

  • A knowledge of how bullet journaling works
  • A free Notion account + the app
  • A basic understanding of Notion’s features, including
    • the sidebar
    • pages
    • blocks
    • “/” functions & commands
    • syncing blocks on different pages

First, Understand How Bullet Journaling Works

In a gist, bullet journaling is the practice of tracking everything in your life through concise, organized note-taking. Ryder Carroll designed it to have 4 core components – or modules – to effectively accomplish this. These modules communicate with each other through “rapid logging” and “task migration”.

The key was figuring out how to implement all these features into a digital tool and still have them reliably retain their designer’s intent.

The 4 Core Modules

The index helps you find everything in your bullet journal quickly and easily. It threads relevant subjects together just as a traditional index would. Usually set up at the beginning of the notebook, a BuJo index looks like a table of contents.

The future log is where you record important events and tasks scheduled beyond the current month. At the start of a new month, you’d “migrate” the items for that month from the future log to the new monthly log. This guide explains how the future log works.

The monthly log is designed to help you track your life’s activities month by month. It’s more than a simple calendar. For example, many monthly spreads contain habit trackers, goals, and other content that reveal trends in your life.

The daily log, which is also called the weekly log, hones in on each day’s thoughts. This is where you write whatever comes to mind, which is then filtered via rapid logging and task migration.

Rapid Logging and Task Migration

Rapid logging is a system of combining symbols with short notations to create meaningful, concise journal entries. The symbols indicate the type of entry and its condition. For example, is it a task or a note? Is the task open, finished, or canceled? Is it a priority?

For a clear guide on rapid logging, read this.

Task migration is a practice for ensuring that you’re as productive as possible without getting overwhelmed. It involves carrying over an unfinished journal entry, especially a task, from one module to another until it’s finished or discarded. This extra work is purposeful, helping you to be accountable for your own plans.

Notion – The Future of Productivity Apps

Notion is a cloud-based note-taking app that is designed to combine many separate tools into one convenient virtual office. Its minimalist interface can organize entire databases of nearly anything, be these lists, reminders, files, presentations, galleries, pages, etc. – and all within a linkable, syncable, LEGO-like workspace. You’d have to experience it for yourself to understand what I mean.

I wanted my Notion BuJo to work as a traditional bullet journal as much as possible. That’s because Carroll’s system hinges on this principle: the more work it takes to manage your entries, the less likely you’ll stick to your system.

This meant that implementing rapid logging and task migration seamlessly in Notion would be the key to success. It also meant not allowing the app’s plentiful features to distract from the otherwise simple process.

Here’s how my digital bullet journal in Notion works:

Step 1. The (Mostly Auto-generated) Index

My Notion bullet journal setup has a self-generated "index"
Notion automatically creates the index I want on the cover page and in the sidebar

My “index” in Notion is the sidebar and the cover page, as shown above. Logically, this should be step one because the app does most of the work as new pages are created.

Unlike a paper bullet journal, Notion automatically generates two links to each page – one in the sidebar and another on its parent page. All I have to do is to make sure the pages are logically arranged and nested properly.

On the cover page, notice how I organized the links under two main headings: 1) Core Modules – which includes the future and monthly logs, and 2) Collections.

Step 2. The Language of My Digital Bullet Journal

Implementing rapid logging – the language of the BuJo – in a digital version took some thought but was a success.

My Rapid Logging Key

Notion provides several symbols for task management purposes. While they can’t be modified to mime Carroll’s original rapid logging key, they do make an adequate substitute. Here’s how I interpret the app’s list icons:

Tasks are represented by the To-do list; bullets are notes; Toggle lists indicate multi-item events and/or projects; and red and yellow are signifiers
My Notion rapid logging key (included in the New Week template within the daily log)

Not identical to the original, but the BuJo essence is unmistakable. Tasks, events, notes, and signifiers are all clearly definable at a glance.

Also, I’ve infused David Allen’s GTD method into my rapid logging. How? By using the ‘Toggle list’ to designate projects. Those familiar with GTD know a project consists of two or more actions nested together. Since everything within the Toggle list is nested, it’s the perfect indicator for multi-step events and projects.

The only downside to rapid logging within Notion is the app’s inability to import custom symbols. So if I ever wanted to expand my key, I would be forced to use color-coding.

How I Do Task Migration

Implementing task migration definitely required contemplation. On paper, the mechanics of task migration are easy. Set up your future, monthly, and daily logs. Then move your bullets around via changing up their symbols and rewriting their notations.

But digitally, I knew I wouldn’t maintain this habit. Retyping bullets would be too redundant of a step. I had to streamline the process somehow, such as by dragging & dropping or by other shortcuts.

Basically, I needed the concept of task migration to work without creating a hassle that would make me give up in frustration. Here’s what I decided to do:

Using drag & drop:

The daily log in this weekly spread has an entry that can be dragged & dropped to the sidebar
Instead of retyping the individual bullets of this event entry out, I could simply drag & drop it to the target page in the sidebar

Using the ‘↱ Move to’ command, I can search up any page or database and move my entry there at the click of a button, like so:

Access the 'Move to' command in Notion by simply clicking on the dotted grid icon next to the block
The ‘Move to’ command is a great shortcut for transferring bullets to other places in your Notion BuJo

Is this method perfect? No, because there’s often still one too many steps. For instance, when you transfer a block to another page in Notion, it’s placed at the bottom of that page. This means you may need to manually move it again to its rightful place within the page layout.

A Notion BuJo future log with an entry moved over. Notice how it's placed at the bottom of the page by default
Here, a block was moved to the future log, but it ended up at the very bottom of the page. I’ll have to manually drag it again to the appropriate month

Step 3. The Future Log

This page works exactly like the one in Carroll’s bullet journal template. It’s for storing all of your future commitments before their corresponding monthly log is created.

The layout is simple. Each month is represented by a ‘Heading 3’ block and the date-related entries (date + notation) are listed beneath it. Sometimes, I’ll leave the date out if there’s no specific timeframe attached. I also divided the page into two columns for better aesthetics.

Each heading represents an upcoming month in this Notion bullet journal future log template
My Notion future log is nothing fancy. It’s meant to store upcoming commitments before the monthly log is created

How To Use

After creating a heading for the months you’ll track (I’m tracking the next 12 months), begin by listing the commitments that initially come to mind.

At the end of each day, move the bullets that belong outside the current month (if there are any) from the daily log to the future log.

At the start of a new month, select the entire list of entries for that month in the future log and convert it to a synced block. Then, copy & paste it to the bottom of the new monthly log. From there, you can move the entries individually, such as to the calendar or the daily log.

At the start of a new month, you'd migrate all the bullets over to the monthly log. Do this by selecting everything under the heading in the future log
Here I’m selecting all bullets listed under the new month (in this case, August 2021) in the future log
Synced blocks are the same block in different areas of Notion; changes to one will be made simultaneously to all the others
Turn the selection into a Synced block. This function is accessed via the ‘Turn into’ action within the menu
Copy the synced block you just created
Copy the newly synced block
By pasting the synced block at the bottom of the monthly log, I can access the future log without switching back and forth between pages
Paste the synced block into the new monthly log, at the bottom under the heading “Future Log Items”
Syncing up the future and monthly logs this way adds a layer of convenience not found in a paper bullet journal
The section for August 2021 is now synced up!

Quick tip #1. What are synced blocks in Notion? Simply put, they’re the same block in multiple locations. Edits made to one affect all the others in real-time. They lessen the number of repetitive steps you’d otherwise have to make with task migration.

Quick tip #2. Although you could migrate bullets TO the future log at any time, you should only migrate entries FROM the future log ONCE A MONTH, at the beginning. Managing your plans this way is less overwhelming.

Step 4. The Monthly Logs

I created a template for my monthly logs, which could be added at the click of a button on the index (cover) page. It includes the following components:

The Bird’s Eye View (an Inline Content Calendar)

While you can sync up a Google Calendar in Notion, I decided to stick with the default one provided by the app
The inline calendar in my Notion BuJo

Notion lets you embed certain pages within pages – these are called inline blocks. My calendar is one such inline block. I use it mostly to visualize the month but sometimes also add entries to it, such as travel plans.

You can embed the default Notion calendar or a Google Calendar. I’m fine with the default. The great thing about the app’s calendar is that it allows for standalone, full-featured pages. These are invaluable for planning detailed itineraries for events, projects, trips, etc.

Quick tip. Any list item moved into the calendar, such as from the future log, will convert into its own page. If the list has nested items, these will be moved to the page unchanged.

The Daily Logs (an Inline Gallery)

My bullet journal in Notion embeds the daily log within the monthly log
The daily log and a “snippet” from the future log

This is where I manage my daily task list. Since the daily log is the focal point of rapid logging and the hub of task migration, I needed it to utilize lists while being as simple as possible. So I decided to integrate the dailies into the monthly log as an inline gallery. It’s less cluttered this way. Plus, the gallery is perfect for the job.

Each card in the gallery represents one week of the month, which can be added as a template. Within each card are the weekdays, organized by headings, similar to the future log layout (see Step 5).

The Current Month’s Future Log “Snippet”

This section is nothing more than a ‘Heading 3’ along with a synced block extracted from the respective month in the future log. It’s easier to migrate items into the calendar and daily log when they’re on the same page.

I still haven’t figured out how to make Notion automatically generate targeted synced blocks. So, for now, I have to link the sections manually every time a new monthly log is created.

What About Other Monthly Spreads?

Notion allows you to design custom “spreads” on a whim. For instance, there is a dedicated habit tracker block which is essentially a customizable database. Whether you include these as inline blocks within the monthly log itself or as a link to a separate page is totally up to you.

Step 5. The Daily Logs

In my Notion bullet journal setup, dailies are grouped as a card template within the in-line gallery on the monthly log page
The daily logs are grouped into a “weekly spread” on the monthly log

Grouped as a weekly spread in the inline gallery in each monthly log, the daily logs are nothing more than segregated lists on a page.

Best results using the daily log come from adhering to your rapid logging key.

Step 6. Collections

Like everyday life, a physical bullet journal never fills up in logical order. A common topic within your paper journal could be scattered about. That’s why Carroll uses collections, which classify these bits and pieces cohesively.

Fortunately, the digital version of a collection is much more flexible. Topics can be sorted, combined, or dispersed according to your heart’s desire with little effort. There’s no need for page numbers in Notion; only links.

My template only includes a crude brain dump page as a starting collection, so please feel free to populate it with your own.

Leo Cai

Leo Cai

Leo Cai, the one solely responsible for the inception of this Mickey Mouse operation, has at least garnered the acceptance of Casey Cai - his wife. He used to view himself as an avid writer back in high school, with grandiose dreams of making a living using words. That never culminated because, as he himself puts it, "It's more practical to stock bakery shelves while striving to become a professional photographer".

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About Us

We’re Leo & Casey Cai, and Journaling Diaries is our outlet for sharing what we’re learning from the lightweight, nearly disaster-proof hobby of journaling. So far, we’ve found that journaling isn’t merely a shameful tool for hard times or a poor memory. It’s enriching & fun. Whatever, whichever, however – as long as it involves journaling – we’ll be covering it all here. Thanks for stopping by!

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