What is a Collection, anyways?

The Bullet Journal method has been one of the most beloved personal productivity systems since its introduction a decade ago. It's a flexible, low-stress way to keep yourself organized, receive the expressive benefits of journalling, and be mindful about what's happening in your life.

One of the core concepts in Bullet Journalling (aka BuJo) is the Collection, which can sometimes seem opaque to newcomers. To quote the Bullet Journal book (emphasis mine):

Like a Lego set, BuJo is comprised of modular blocks. Each module is a template designed to organize and collect related information; that's why we call them Collections.

So then, a Collection is simply a group of pages, following a common template, that bundles together a specific type of information that you want to track. The BuJo method itself recommends four "core Collections":

  • The Daily Log - home to the tasks, events and notes for each day
  • The Monthly Log - tracking your most prominent tasks and events for the month
  • The Future Log - storing any tasks or notes that belong in future months
  • The Index - documenting where your collections live in your journal

Custom Collections

Bullet Journalling really gets interesting when you add in Custom Collections, for managing information that doesn't fit the above categories. Commonly used for tracking goals, tackling long-term challenges, and organizing related tasks, this is where the system evolves into something that is uniquely yours (and where people often go crazy with custom designs and layouts).

Just search for "Bullet Journal Collection ideas" and you'll see the incredible range of applications people have found for Custom Collections. It's easy to get carried away with the possibilities, but remember that each new collection you add dilutes the attention that you can focus on your journalling practice. In my own experience, more than 5-10 Custom Collections is usually overkill– devote them only to the areas of your life that you want to focus on for the next year.

Collections in the hyperpaper planner

Bullet Journalling has been a major influence on my own journalling and organization systems. The hyperpaper planner takes the parts I've found most valuable, and adapts them to the world of digital tablets. The core BuJo collections are well-covered by the planner's built-in features:

  • The Daily Log happens on each day's dedicated page(s)
  • The Monthly Log can happen either on a traditional monthly calendar layout or optional monthly trackers
  • The Future Log maps perfectly to quarterly planning pages
  • The Index is automatic thanks to the linking system. No more manual index maintenance and flipping through pages!

Just like with BuJo itself, the planner's support for Custom Collections let you mould it to your unique circumstances. Each Custom Collection has three key attributes:

  • A name
  • A template (with over a dozen options)
  • A page definition (number of pages, or a date scope for each page)

While the name and template are self-explanatory, the page definition is where these Collections really shine. While often, simply asking for 50 or 100 pages will suffice, there are two special powers here:

Date-based Collections

You can set your custom Collections to have weekly or monthly pages. Besides giving you the correct number of pages, this adds links on each of the week/month's day pages– so when you're writing on your daily pages, your relevant weekly and monthly Collection pages are always a single tap away. Date-based Collections have many applications, but some of the most common are:

  • Monthly trackers - habits, health, gratitude, exercise, etc
  • Monthly goals and projects
  • Weekly meetings – so you can easily add agenda items and talking points beforehand
  • Weekly tasks

Single-page Collections

A Collection with a single page can be surprisingly useful in the planner. Because each Collection is linked from every page, it's a great way to instantly jump to information that you want to keep at hand. A few common use cases:

  • High-level goals
  • Grocery/shopping lists
  • Contacts
  • Quotes
  • "Stickers" or shapes (things you want to copy/paste to re-use across many pages)

Making Bullet Journalling work for you

Bullet Journalling's modular structure helps focus your attention on the things that are most important to you. Custom Collections are the linchpin behind its flexibility, and one of the core features behind the hyperpaper planner.

Looking to build your own BuJo system? Create your custom planner as an easy-to-navigate pdf that will work on any digital tablet.