Blinks' Book

My Hybrid Bullet Journal / Sketch Notes

It’s not just for guns anymore

So I’ve been a writer since I was a kid. Whether it was in journals, diaries, notes, sketchbooks, or whatever… I’ve tracked my thoughts at various points in my life, and laughed at them at other points. I’ve also read through old code I wrote in awe, literally wondering who wrote it before I discovered it was my work. (yeah, I’m serious) And I’ve tracked my days in various journals / diaries to see what my days were like at later times.

But other than raw dumps from my brain, random thoughts, squiggles and doodles, I’ve never really put any thought into these idea-notes. No formatting, no concepts other than ‘just capture them and all will be well.’

Until I discovered Ryder Carroll and his amazing creation, “The Bullet Journal.”

Ryder Carroll

Ryder Carroll

Digital Product Designer

Ryder Carroll is a digital product designer and inventor of the Bullet Journal method, which he is currently writing a book about.

He’s had the privilege of working with companies like Adidas, American Express, Cisco, IBM, Macy’s, and HP.

He’s been featured by the New York Times, LA Times, Fast Co., The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Vogue, New York Magazine, Bloomberg, and others.

He recently gave a TEDx talk on intentionality.

Journalistic Awesomeness

Now don’t get me wrong… I am not a fervent disciple of the Bullet Journal, but I do sing it’s praises.

It allows users to grasp core concepts fairly simply and quickly. Create fairly complex layouts for a variety of needs while maintaining a nice checks and balances for users to reach backwards in time and find the data they need, without involving a computer.

The Process

You work from bullet lists.

Everything is a list with bullets.

Hey, it’s not rocket science. It’s simple… clean… and fast.

It allows you to create indexes, project pages, collections, meta-lists and more. You can track meetings, and expectations, and more. It’s quite a thrilling concept for being so simple at its core. But I still got bored. Keep in mind there are countless “hacks” for the Bullet Journal. People that have worked out organization techniques involving washi tape, additional bullet options, stamps, and more. But it didn’t challenge me.

I run with the squirrels…

I need something that can keep up with my pace.

Rev. Brian Scott O'keefe

High Priest / Creative Indulgent, Church of the Padded Wall

Luckily, even when I find something that “feels” perfect, I don’t stop looking. I adopted the Bullet Journal as my official Journal Workflow and was progressing along that path. But I was looking for more… for those pieces of ‘extra’ that would help me stay focused.

Well, you know my name is Simon

Then I discovered Mike Rhode… and the Sketch Note concept.

He screamed across my search results for quite awhile as I tried to grasp his concepts. They are fairly simple, to grasp if not to put into play.

Mike Rohde

Mike Rohde

Designer, Author, Illustrator and Sketchnoter

In his words from his page:

Hello, I’m Mike Rohde. I’m a designer, author, illustrator and sketchnoter, living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I have a passion for simple and usable design solutions.

I believe it’s important to share thoughts, ideas and process, so others can draw insight from my experiences.

I’ve been writing here since February, 2003, covering design, sketching, drawing, sketchnotes, technology, travel, cycling, books and coffee.


What I liked the most about his concept was that he encouraged everyone to draw.

You don’t have to be a graphic artist, you don’t have to want a career in art, just try out his idea… Capture your notes from your next meeting, conference, or event by drawing them and you will see the magic. The human brain creates stronger ties from your memory to a drawing.

“But I’m not a very good artist!”

Well, who is? If you did what most people have done and abandoned drawing, leaving it to your childhood because some adult did you wrong and told you to put away childish things then you haven’t had practice at this skillset since you were somewhere between 5 and 10 years old.

Of course you’re not very good at it.

But that isn’t even important.

“Well, it would have to be. If I am supposed to draw something that represents the idea or concept I am trying to capture then it needs to be identifiable as that idea or concept. But without the skills of an artist my drawings won’t be identifiable beyond stick figures and clouds!”

Technically you’re right… except you forget one aspect of art.

It’s all in your head.

When you hear that idea or concept covering a technical aspect of your trade or career, your brain will give you the drawing of that idea at your skill level. Your colleagues won’t be able to identify it, probably… but your brain will. Most likely? Forever…

So yeah, it looks like a stick figure with a cape flying through a hoop… but you know what it means. And when you look back over your notes later, you’ll remember more of that moment and what was said that if you had written verbatim what the speaker said.

You’ll remember your thoughts at the moment, the ideas that started rushing through your head, and more.

So no… Your drawings probably won’t look like Mr. Rohde’s…

But your notes will hold much more meaning and value than if you had just written key phrases and words from the speakers mouth. AND you can capture non-verbal cues and ideas on paper as well, that hand-written notes couldn’t.

Sketch Notes seem like the bomb… but they lack organization and structure beyond the event or speaking arrangement.

And thus was born… Blinks Book.

The Hybrid.

The Reverends Notes

So I took the basic idea of the Bullet Journal and blended it with the Sketch Notes.

This provides my artistic brain a chance to doodle with purpose while giving me an informal structure to my thoughts. I can mix artistic processes with business mechanics and create the perfect method for tracking my thoughts.

Peace, Love and Notes

I get asked occasionally what my organizational style is, and this is one of those things I swear by. I hope it helps… Have a good one and always take notes!