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The Essential Guide to the Bullet Journal Future Log

Posted by Brandon Evans
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There is a small collection of things in this life that can instill all the feelings of hope, anticipation, wonder, worry, and panic. The future, though, stands alone as especially demanding of our respect. It's self-contradictory: malleable, yet unchangeable; undetermined, but set.

In the ever more frantic world, we are encouraged to practice mindfulness, the art of living in the moment. MRI Research has shown that meditation techniques reduce activity in the "amygdala,” the part of the brain responsible for releasing fear and stress hormones. 

The effects and benefits of being mindful of the present are clear, but what about the future? What can future planning and journal strategies do to your brain?

Ready to start your digital bullet journal? Start on Friday -- for free!

What is a Bullet Journal Future Log?

If you've ever forgotten a friend's birthday or missed an important appointment, you can probably recall experiencing that heart-dropping, sickening feeling. The Future Log is an effort to prevent this alarm and dread. It's a section in your journal for drafting up all the significant moments of upcoming months. 

As the Bullet Journal website explains, "The future log... is used to store dated entries that will occur outside the current month."

It's simply a method of future planning, in which you keep track of all kinds of events, future dates and appointments, annual goals and other tasks. For instance, one might fill their future log with:

Bullet journal future log layouts don't limit the nature of entries, so anything of note can be added. The important point is that it's used as an outline to actively plan towards the best future.

How do I set up a Future Log?

Creating a Future Log is as easy as pen and paper, or signing in to a digital journal. Even if you find yourself in the middle of the year, there's no need to postpone setting it up. If it's June, just start your layout from July. Future Logs can be six months long, or the whole year.

True to the holistic, creative nature of Bullet Journaling, Future Logs can take various forms but they should interact with other parts of the journal, such as the daily and monthly spread. Regular reviewing of the Future Log encourages users to migrate unfinished tasks into the fresh monthly or weekly planner.

When it comes to adding tasks, it can be done according to the BuJo listing style, bullet-pointing short-form sentences to minimize clutter. Users can use color schemes, or other forms of color coding to differentiate entries into relevant categories.

If you find yourself using a digital bullet journal, such as Friday, you can benefit from integrated daily and future task lists, particularly convenient for migrating tasks or more sophisticated archiving for your daily log. With Friday, each of your incomplete tasks can roll over to the next day.

How To Use Friday as a Digital Planner and Bullet Journal

Use Friday and get started with bullet journaling today and include future tasks/events.

The Friday daily planner is a place to see meetings, tasks, routines, and goals in one place. It's like the daily spread in bullet journaling.

Friday integrates with popular tools like Google Calendar, Outlook, Todoist, Asana, Microsoft To Do, Trello and several others. Instead of writing down your schedule and tasks each day, Friday imports your work so you don't have to.

Within the Planner, you can set focus time to block any distracting websites while you work. Getting distracted online is a big reason why many prefer paper bullet journals, but Friday helps minimize that.

What about a future log in Friday?

We've taken care of that. Inside Friday, you can assign a due date for a task and you won't see it until that day arrives. There's also a Future column for any to-do list items that you need to do someday.

You can also take notes within Posts and keep your future ideas and plans there as well. Want to try it for yourself? Start with Friday for free.

For those searching for some inspiration or design suggestions, below are some notable layout examples for bullet journaling:

1. Horizontal

The most straightforward approach is a horizontal format. In fact, this the preferred Future Log layout for Ryder Carroll, creator of the Bullet Journal process. Reminiscent of a diary, where days turn to months, it's the minimalist's response to long-term and future planning.

This example is from BulletJournal.com:

2. Vertical

Designed to achieve the same aim, the vertical layout is a choice for those who prefer to use the Future Log as a notebook to make long, running lists. The advantages of this design are similar to vertical Weekly Spreads: you are able to compare the pace and workload of each month side-by-side.

Future logs can be complemented with organizational tools, like micro-calendars, but anything that will aid planning and perspective is encouraged. Journaling should be an inventive, personal endeavor.

Here's one from MashaPlan:

3. Circular

An ingenious alternative to the traditional bullet journal layout may be a circular Future Log. This format gives users a great opportunity to present the entire year. One effective solution for saving space is to have a "calendex, a calendar-index hybrid; with a bit of color and some page numbers, the circular format Future Log can be utilized as a comprehensive directory for the year.

Take a look at this one from the Petite Planner Instagram account:

4. Alastair Method

If, perhaps, you are prone to jotting ideas down as you remember them, you might get frustrated to find your journal falling out of chronological order. In this sense, a digital format is undoubtedly more convenient. However, this fundamental limitation of paper journals can be partially circumvented with the Alastair method.

This format features an imaginative use of columns, so you can always add entries a later time, without it becoming difficult to differentiate between months. For further segmentation, you can use your favorite colors for personal, professional or other aspects of life.

Here's an example of the Alastair Method:

How Do I Optimize My Bullet Journal Future Log?

One of the greatest elements of BuJo is the flexibility of planning. Regardless of the exact system employed, there are definite benefits for both productivity and mental health. To fully optimize the Future Log layout, however, users should consider these few tips:

Using Digital Planners & Bullet Journals

It's completely viable to use a digital planner format. In fact, they're becoming progressively more popular, as they carry their own, distinct advantages.

Firstly, digital planners are easy to access, anywhere. There's no way to drop it, break it, leave it on a bench, get it wet, have it stolen. In this regard, digital is highly handy. You can't be caught off guard without a space to schedule and plan your life.

By virtue of having automated features, scheduling appointments and recurring or individuals events is made much easier with a digital journal. 

Actually, the entire process of data entry is faster. It's also possible to integrate multiple calendar and task-management apps. 

Of course, you can benefit from automatic reminders and updates, too.

If you're using online platforms for work journaling, or as a means to contact with colleagues or work as a team, digital offers synchronization and sharing features, which just aren't possible on paper.

Despite the difference between digital and paper journals, they both offer the same vast benefits of Bullet Journaling. However, there are some distinct advantages related to the Future Log.

Planning Feels 3X as Good

Strategic planning is widely recognized to be valuable in maximizing productivity, though it may surprise you to learn that it can greatly influence the amount of pleasure you receive from the things you plan for.

The buzzing speculation the week before a party or holiday isn't a precursor to the enjoyment; it is part of the enjoyment. A 2017 study found that "savoring an upcoming experience heightens ongoing and remembered enjoyment of the experience." In other words, when you actively anticipate the future (savor), you turn one source of enjoyment into two, then three.

So it follows that every entry made in the Future Log becomes a separate, added pleasure. The very act of planning is pleasant. Equally, reviewing the log at the end of a month is like looking at a treasure trove of happy memories.

Meet your Future Self with a Future Log

Although many would love the opportunity to travel back in time and talk to themselves, that's fantasy. Going forward, however, could be different.

In a 2009 study, researchers coined the phrase "mental contrasting", described as the self-regulatory strategy of visualizing your future goals before immediately contrasting with the present obstacles that prevent the fulfillment of those goals. This technique was shown to increase goal commitment, suggesting that those who self-analyze their future selves were are more likely to achieve more.

Through actively journaling, especially in a Future Log, we are invited to repeatedly meet the future. By physically recording and reviewing your ambitions, you invest energy, and intuitively correlate effort spent with reason to commit to long-term goals.

Yes, the future can be scary, unpredictable, stressful, and chaotic, amongst other undesirable things, so no one should consider sailing into such a rough sea without first making some preparations. Perhaps now is just the right time to grab a notebook or laptop and put together a Bullet Journal Future Log. Your future self will surely thank you for it.

Start your future log in Friday for free.

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