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The Bullet Journal: when reliability and practicality outweigh technology

Antoine Meunier's profile picture Antoine Meunier on

After 3 months and counting living on the road, I feel like something has changed. I used to be your typical millennials living by the motto "there's an app for that"… then vanlife happened. For the first time, technology didn't beat the "legacy world".

In all fairness to my beloved apps, it's mostly the devices themselves that get a hard time following up with this lifestlye… like that one time we camped by the beach and within 12 hours, half of the keys on my Macbook—including the spacebar—got stuck ensuing in a clustrfckoflettrssmashdtogether. 😫

And that's just one unfortunate example out that came out as a result of setting up shop in the most random place like: running out of batteries right in the middle of the forest before I could push my work or getting the "your device is too hot to operate"… or "too cold to operate" warnings but what made me tip was that sparse cellular reception that would make my note-taking apps unusable. The "Oh, maybe if we pass this range of mountain we'll get reception on the other side" got really old, real quick…and got us in the most random places (but that's another story 🤗).

So literally 48 hours after leaving Montreal, I decided to stop relying on technology for the most important aspect of remote work: keeping track of progress, to-do's, meetings, deadlines, etc.

I ditched my 298 apps and I picked up the ultimate versatile productivity tool: my long forgotten moleskine journal. 📓🤓

I quickly installed the critically acclaimed and overall kickass operating system on it: The Bullet Journal™

For those not familiar with the bullet journal, it's a framework designed by Ryder Caroll, a fine gentleman from Brooklyn who dresses sharply and eats healthy.

The idea behind the Bullet Journal is to use a basic set of rules to keep journaling simple as he puts it himself:

"We intentionally used standard conventions, like bullets, checklists, page numbers, etc., so you already know a fair amount before you even begin," he tells Co.Design. "Then the user can can add and subtract features as they need to."

For me, it was all about gaining the edge over the elements by using an analog operating system that never crashes and that's easy to alter… it's sublime (get it?)

Speaking of which, I've built a couple of nomad specific add-ons for it. Feel free to add them to your stack:

Trello for your journal

This may be seem trivial but for me the ability to shift task that are left undone from one day to the next is mind-blowing.

I mean, after a while you stop this little mind game with yourself and acknowledge that you've been writing, over, and over, and over again the same task that you've been pushing off for 13 days and finally realize that "Write CodeMash Talk" needs to be addressed.

Foursquare for your journal

My favourite add-on to the bullet journal is by far my little check-in app turning it into an analog version of Foursquare.

In the first couple days, I was motivated enough to write down every coffee shop, surfing spot and overnight parking places but grew tired of it and stuck with the cities we've stayed in.

A photo posted by Antoine Meunier (@meeunier) on

If you're somewhat of a traveler à la Marty Kaan, a digital nomad or a modern Jack Kerouac, you'll enjoy being able to get a grip of you're whereabout–though it can be mind-boggling at time.

On the other hand, if you hate your job, hate your life, hate being stuck in the city you're in: don't do this. It'll likely make things worse. 🤕

Tripit for your journal

Anthony and Simone have been power users of Tripit for a while now and got pretty much everybody on the team onboard with this neat little travel app. It took me a while to get over the questionable UI (though it's much much much better that it use to be, thanks Tripit!) but I wouldn't go without it… but sometimes I have to. So I came up with this habit of doodling travel plans as I make them up.

Granted, I have no drawing skills but I enjoy it nonetheless. 🖋😑

Should you replace iOS 10 for BuJo?

No.The Bullet Journal–or BuJo for short– can be archaic. It's also filled with security vulnerabilities–you can't enable 2FA or have encrypted backups on the BuJo. "Find my BuJo" doesn't exist either. 😂

However, if you're on the go, technology seems to lose its superiority which allow good old journaling to shine and prove itself as reliable tool to keep track with your personal and professional life.

But again, nothing is perfect. My Moleskine isn't waterproof nor is my iPhone… but guess which one lasts more than 9 hours? 😬

Happy journaling! ✌️

Bonus: Let's geek out on tools

I pinged Amelia – who also likes to geek out on journaling – and we came up with a short list of our favourite gear:


Current pencil

Operating System

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Antoine Meunier's profile picture

Antoine Meunier

cruising through #vanlife in a '72 VW bus.

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