In my group of friends, I am known as the music and productivity guru — I have a system, a tip, or a planner for any kind of occasion and/or type of person. I often dig for productivity systems the way I dig for music, so it’s only fitting that on one of my journeys down the rabbit hole, I discovered the Bullet Journal (through the Instagram accounts of Mabujork, FlyingPaperWords and Daintlynoted).
Through trial and error, the Bullet Journal method was created by web designer Ryder Carroll. After living with ADD for years, Carroll needed a system that allowed him to organize his mind while making him less overwhelmed and more productive. The system he created combined a diary, notebook, to-do list, and sketchbook. After introducing the system to his friend, she encouraged him to share the system with the world — first came an in-depth website, blogs, and now his book, The Bullet Journal Method.
The book will resonate with two different audiences — the newbies to the system, and those within the Bullet Journal community who want to brush up or just read about the system. The Bullet Journal will help you declutter your packed mind, so you can finally examine your thoughts from an objective distance.
With the year coming to an end, it’s time that we start thinking about our productivity system for the new year — here’s why you should consider the Bullet Journal.
You can be as creative as you want to be
When you scroll through the pages of Instagram or watch YouTube tutorials, one thing that is clear is that people take their layouts seriously. My friend Ashley told me, “It’s a wonderful creative outlet. I often have a hard time with inspiration to draw or make art, so having monthly and weekly spreads that I can create and play with provides a great prompt.” Using a Bullet Journal lets you get back to your creative roots — you can design and sketch anything you want, which creates a level of individuality.
Create the layout that works best for you
If you’re like me, one of the biggest issues I have when searching for a paper planner is the flexibility. I’m pretty particular in my needs — I need a month view, and a day view with the space to take notes from work or make anecdotes about life. While some planners give me some of the space I need, the formats are a little wonky for me. Some days I may have tons of notes, and others not so much, but what the bullet journal allows you to do is to create the space and format that works best for you.
It’s suggested that you use the official Bullet Journal notebook because it allows you to do a lot, but any journal that has a dot grid will suffice (the dot grid design makes it easy for creating your own collections and layouts). The benefit of the actual Bullet Journal is that the pages are numbered, and the book comes with an index in the front to help you keep a record of what’s where.
Also, the freedom and space that the journal provides is essentially like dating: non-committal. Did you have a great layout design one week, but it didn’t end up working out the way you thought? You can change your design the next week (and the week after) just to see what works best for you.
Goal-setting and Intention
One of my favorite parts of the Bullet Journal is how it can assist in getting and setting an intention. The Bullet Journal allows you to create a goals collection. In the book, Carroll identifies different exercises associated with goal setting, like the 5,4,3,2,1 exercise. 5,4,3,2,1 stands for timestamps: 5 years, 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days and 1 hour, and you break those goals into sprints, which you will expand upon and document in your Bullet Journal.
Goals help you to be intentional, and that’s something that is consistently reiterated throughout the book and with the system in general. Part of what a bullet journal is — aside from working as your task manager — is your prompt to be intentional in the information you save. What happened today? Anything worth remembering? What information is something you want to revisit? Keeping those thoughts at top of mind will help you to be intentional with what you write and what collections you want to recreate.
Despite the beautiful layouts that people share on Instagram or on YouTube tutorials, using the Bullet Journal is actually pretty easy. There are a few different things that you need to remember when journaling — but the great thing is that you can make your bullet journal anything that you want it to be.