The Science Behind the Bullet Journaling Craze

The Science Behind the Bullet Journaling Craze

In the past few years, an innovative planning tool has been changing the way a lot of people plan out their upcoming days, weeks, and months. Bullet journaling is an interesting new way to organize your time and tasks. These journals work by the user writing down tasks daily and then either checking them off, scheduling them, or relocating them. To someone unfamiliar with a bullet journal, it will look quite chaotic and confusing at first, but some science supports users’ claims they are effective.

Bullet Journal Basics

In short, a bullet journal is made up of different components, or as the creator defines them, modules. There’s a future log for long-term plans, a monthly log that works similarly to a calendar, and a daily log for more in-depth, specific tasks for the day. An index and a system of symbols organized these modules.

A person puts their whole life into their bullet journal, and this is its biggest strength. The thinking is if all your important tasks are in one location, then you’re much less likely to forget about something. It’s the journaling equivalent to placing your wallet, keys and cell phone together in a bowl, so you don’t forget one when you leave the house but on a much higher level.

Benefits Of Bullet Journaling

We already know that there are significant mental health benefits to journaling of any kind. So, it follows that a tool with as much organizational potential as bullet journaling should be even better. A bullet journal functions so well because it allows its user to put everything in one place. It can be thoughts, ideas, new facts, important information, etc.

According to research from the Journal of Experimental Psychology, journaling helps people by acting as an external extension to their memory. Your brain can only juggle about three things at any given time without losing its effectiveness; a bullet journal may help its user bypass this limitation.

The Zeigarnik Effect

Bullet journals may also be a way of hacking the Zeigarnik Effect. This term describes the psychological phenomenon of people having an easier time remembering uncompleted tasks than completed ones. When you’re trying to focus on the task at hand and keep remembering that thing you’re supposed to do later, that’s the Zeigarnik Effect.

Writing down tasks in a bullet journal seems to alleviate this problem, as does writing down a to-do list. Once your brain realizes you’ve got a plan in place to accomplish the task, it stops reminding you about it. This phenomenon allows you to be more productive with a clear head.

Mental Timeouts

Doodling and writing in your bullet journal also can give you a break from whatever work you were doing previously. Sometimes just taking a bit of time off from a task can help you come back more focused and productive. According to the study, conducted by Jackie Andrade, a psychologist, doodling helps you to remember over 80% of information, as well as, to become more concentrated and focused. Thus, taking some time with your bullet journal when you’ve hit a brick wall, or are having a tough time focusing, is useful.

Every now and then I need a break from work. I find that taking a walk, sketching, but especially doing some updating in my bullet journal are great ways to get refocused,” shares Sonia Alston, a tutor, “My bullet journal gives me a creative time out that brings me back to the task at hand, fresh and focused.

The Science Behind the Bullet Journaling Craze

Achieving Goals With Your Bullet Journal

Using a bullet journal helps to achieve your goals and dreams. According to a study conducted by Southern Methodist University, writing about your future goals makes people happier. Additionally, you are more tend to do your best to make your dreams come true. It helps to focus on the most important tasks which lead to success and make you more productive and effective.

Also, bullet journals allow your brain to mentally refresh, and that’s great for allowing you to concentrate better. Even just the simple fact that you’re writing on a physical piece of paper helps. Writing with your hand allows you to retain more. Also, the notebook gives you flexibility and freedom to build on ideas and be creative.


Bullet journals are not necessarily for everyone; no organizational tool ever is. Bullet journals are a fascinating mind hack; if they work for you, they work for you. They’re a new innovative tool, so they haven’t been studied directly, but the science that relates to the concepts they represent is quite substantial.

They work not just by organizing, but by becoming an extension of your natural memory; reminding you of things by having you see them when checking in on something else. The simple phenomenon of the way they encourage you to switch between different kinds of tasks also seems to enhance your concentration. Whatever it is that makes them so useful; people swear by them, so, it’s worth trying one out and seeing if it works for you.

The Science Behind the Bullet Journaling Craze

Meet the Author

Content marketer Michael Dehoyos is usually found assisting organizations in their digital marketing approach. He also helps with email marketing. Michael is an editor at PHD Kingdom and Academic Brits, and a regular contributor to Origin Writings academic service.

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