How to Bullet Journal, Part Three: The Future Log

This post is part of a series! Check out Part One and Part Two!

Now it’s time to start writing stuff in your Bullet Journal. Your Bullet Journal’s main job is to help you keep track of your day-to-day stuff along with things that will come up in the future. For that, you use the future log, the monthly log, and the daily (and/or weekly) log.

Originally I was going to do all 3 in a single post, but when I realized how long the future log was, I decided to split them up. So today we’re discussing the future log, we’ll get to the others in the next post.


The Future Log

The future log is where you write anything that is really long term. Are you planning to attend Go Wild in April? Do you have a major project due in June? Is your spouse’s birthday in September? All of those things would be stuff you would write in your future log.

There are three typical ways to create a future log

The Original

Color coding is totally optional. But it was fun when I started!

The original Future Log is the simplest, at least in my mind. You will need a couple of pages for it (so you give yourself space to write in all the stuff you already know and anything that will come up later.)

At this point, you write the name of the month at the top, fill in any lines you already know (you can use the key to help you remember what is an event or appointment compared to something you must do or remember.) Let’s say you have a ticket to Go Wild. You would go to April, draw a circle, write in “20-23 Go Wild, Nashville” (you don’t have to write in the location, but it helps for appointments or events if you want to remember the where.)

For your spouse, you would go to September, draw a line or circle (it depends if you see it as an event or something to simply remember) and write in “9 Lovely’s Birthday”

OK, but what about stuff that isn’t exactly date specific, just month specific?

If you don’t have a clear date (like say that project is due in June, but you aren’t sure when in June) you can still write it in under the month, just skip the number until you find out. So for your project, you go to June, draw a box and write “Project X Due!”

What’s the Down Side?

You may run out of space for all your activities. Also, if you are writing them in as they come up, you might find them out of order. For example, let’s say I write down Go Wild for April 20 to 23. Then I find out that I have a doctor’s appointment on April 3rd. Your Future Log shows the 20-23rd before it shows the 3rd, since that is the order you wrote them down in.

I use this method with one variation. I added a sticker on each month that shows the actual calendar. It helps me see when in the week things land, along with the date. My stickers are from Krissyanne Designs, for those of you interested. It’s not that challenging to draw it out by hand if you would rather go that route.

The Calendex

Even Professor Xavier has to keep his life organized, right?

Also called “The Hope Method” (so named because the guy who created it is Eddie Hope), the Calendex is a variation on the Future Log. While I’m not a fan of it, I know many people are and it does have the advantage of taking up less space than the original.
On one page, you write the months at the top and the numbers 1-31 down the left side. For each month, leave yourself about 4 boxes, then draw a divider for the next month. This gives you space to write in the numbers. You may also want to (but is completely optional) draw a small line separating each week in a month. For example, in January 2017, you would draw a line between 7 and 8 if you are using a Sunday to Saturday based calendar. If you prefer Monday to Sunday, it would have a line between 1 and 2 and the next line would be between 8 and 9. Approximately 6 months fits on a page, so if you want to do a full year, do 2 pages.

OK, so I have months along the top, numbers down the side. But this doesn’t leave me a lot of space to write down details.

No, it doesn’t. That’s actually the point! Instead of writing down details like “Go Wild, Nashville” on your Future Log, you are writing a page number that will lead you back to those details.

Say what??

Yeah, OK. I see why it seems confusing. Let’s say your are writing down your daily log for today on page 152 of your Bullet Journal. You buy your ticket to Go Wild, confirming that you are actually going. On today’s log, you will write “April 20-23, Go Wild, Nashville” with a circle for an event. That’s easy, right?

Then, you will flip over to your Calendex, find April on the top, then the 20th at the side. Where they meet up is the “space” you use to write in. You would then write “152” in that spot and circle it.

Wait, 152??

Yup, 152. Why? Because that’s the page number you wrote the note about Go Wild. So when you look at your Calendex later, you’ll know to flip to page 152 and find the event. The circle around 152 helps you know it is an event, instead of a to-do.

Why would someone like this method?

There are a couple of reasons. It takes up less pages in your BuJo to create, plus it gives you more space to fill in multiple things on a single day.

Eddie Hope originally created it as a way to help keep his projects as a collection (we’ll talk more about them in a different post.) Let’s use Project X from above as an example of what I mean.

Project X

Project X, as I’ve so named it, is a super special project that requires a lot of work from a lot of different people. It requires getting contractors to build a secret castle in New York, talking to Boeing about creating a secret jet, plus you need get your friends together to figure out how to make your home for mutants look like a regular prep school without worrying that parents of non-mutants will attempt to send their children there.

Uhm, Jacqui, that sounds a lot like X-Men…

Yeah, I know. I mean, it is Project X, right? So, you have a lot of stuff to figure out how to make Xavier’s School for Gifted Children. In your Bullet Journal, you would start a page specifically to detail the project (OK, this big of a project might need its own Bullet Journal. Just go with me on this one, OK?) With a Bullet Journal, you are supposed to just start on whatever the next page is, so let’s say it’s page 155.

Let’s say you need to have construction on the mansion done by June 15th. So that would be your final day. But you need to talk to Boeing no later than March 1st about the details of the jet. Plus you need to have the contractors start work no later than January 5th.

Your project page would include all these dates and details about what needs done. For example, you would draw a circle and write “January 5, Contractors start work on the elevator and adding material to the drywall to prevent students with x-ray vision from seeing through them.” On your Calendex, instead of going to January 5th and writing “Contractors, re: elevator and x-ray” you would “155” with a circle around it. Now when you flip to page 155, you will see it’s all about Project X and specifically about meeting with the Contractors.

OK, so it is a quick way to reference an appointment and allows you to group like appointments into a collection (whatever that is)?

Yes, that’s exactly what the Calendex does. It is also great if you have multiple things you have to do in a single day. For example, maybe you also need to teach Jean Gray how to levitate small objects on January 5th. You already have a collection for things you need to teach Jean on page 12, so on the 5th, you would write 12 in a box. Now you have two things on January 5th, but it takes up less room in your Future Log.

What’s the Down Side?

For me, it meant having to make a collection of things I felt I didn’t need a collection for, I just needed a place to remember them. In a real life example, when I wanted to write down the days my kids have off school. It meant I had to create a specific collection of “School Vacation Days” before I could fill them into the Calendex. Then I have to flip back to that specific page (which doesn’t do anything but list the dates) to see why I had it written down. For me, it was just easier to write on the future log the dates and the why.

It also means more flipping around in your notebook. Let’s use my school vacation days and add in birthdays. My kids have off school on January 1st because it is New Year’s Day. We’re also going to be camping that weekend. I would have to flip to multiple pages just to know what’s going on January 1st. With the original Future Log, it’s already written down in one spot.

The Alastair Method

Back to my life, rather than the cool Professor X’s.

This one is named for it’s creator as well, although this time that is Alastair Johnston.

The Alastair Method solves the issue of flipping to multiple pages in your BuJo while still using fewer pages than the original future log.

This time, you’re only adding months at the top and you aren’t giving them more than a single row down for space.

Months at the top only? What about Days? And why do you need such little space?

With the Alastair Method, you will write the days like you did in the original, along with any details. So Go Wild would still say “20-23, Go Wild, Nashville” but instead of having each month broken down into its own section, you have them each in their own row at the top. Then you fill in a dot for the month that it happens on the same line as the note you made.

What? I am confused.

If you look at the picture, you can see that I wrote the months along the top. Since each one has a single row, I simply draw a small dot on the correct month that corresponds with the dates. So the note Go Wild note has a dot on April. Camping has a dot in January. If I had gone as far as September, I would have added Lovely’s birthday too.

Oh, I see. You make a dot for the month instead of adding it to a list for the month.

Yup! It saves space, since you can add things as they come up, no matter what month they are in. It also solves the issue of running out of space you may have designated for a certain month.

It also means you don’t have to flip back and forth to various pages in your BuJo to figure out what is going on during a certain day.

What’s the Down Side? Why Don’t You Use this One?

The biggest downside is that everything is sort of jumbled together. You will have notes from each month spread all over your page, so you’ll have to take some time to go through the entire month and check each thing.

Also, if you are like me and writing in a straight line tends to be an issue, you may end up confusing yourself if the dot doesn’t line up right. You would hate to mix up Go Wild’s month with Project X’s! And I doubt your spouse would be thrilled if you confused what month they were born in. If neither of those are an issue for you, then this may work best in terms of space and togetherness. Plus, you might notice I made a mistake with one, marking it in March instead of February, because I had my rows mixed up. I fixed it, but Oops!!


OK, so now I understand how to make a future log. But what about stuff coming up this month or even today and tomorrow? 

Yeah, those are important too. Important enough that they are going to get a separate post. So watch for Part 4, which will discuss the Monthly Log and the Daily (or Weekly) Log!


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