I’m a self confessed self help book junkie.
I can’t get enough of them.
Over the last few years one of the topics that kept coming up, over and over again, in the books I had been reading was Journaling.
Now when I heard this word I thought, yeah, I used to keep a journal when I was 15, “Dear Diary…. blah blah blah”, how was this going to be useful to me in adult life. But the more it was mentioned the more I thought I should look in to it.
They were linking it to mindfulness, intention, productivity, habit formation, focus, goal tracking, and improving mental health.
All of these things were things I wanted to work on … but how could one tool do all of this?
There was a lot of talk about WHY it was great and not a lot of talk about HOW to do it, so I decided to investigate further.
After some googling I quickly came across the term Bullet Journal.
If you google the term the first thing you’ll see is a lot of images of beautifully artistically drawn journal pages. So I thought, I can’t draw, I wish I could, but I can’t see how this will help me.
What they seemed to be drawing seemed to be some sort of diary or planner, but I had religiously bought myself a new diary at the beginning of every year and started out with good intentions by writing in all my appointments and all my families birthdays in, but within a few weeks I’d forget about it and never use it again.
I have many many unfinished diaries and also a lot of unfinished notebooks lying around my house.
This did however make me think, Why did I never finish using the diaries or notebooks I bought?
The answer was that ultimately they didn’t do what I needed them to do.
I wasn’t engaged in the process of updating it everyday as some days I didn’t have any meetings or events so I just left it at home.
I also realised that what I also had a lot of, lying around my house and cluttering up my desk, was TO DO lists written on scraps of paper or in notebooks which again I had abandoned.
Why were all these people suddenly spending so much time, and often it seemed artistic effort, on these bullet journals.
I noticed that not all posts on the internet to do with bullet journaling were by artistic people with beautiful handwriting and a lot of people seemed to be saying that this was a system that was changing their lives in so many areas so I continued to read about it and eventually I came across www.bulletjournal.com which is the home of the original concept of the bullet journal.
It turns out bullet journaling was invented by a man called Ryder Carroll, who, after being diagnosed with ADHD as a teenager, needed a way to organise his life, to help him stay on track and get things done.
He was advised to try different planners available on the market, which tell you they can make you organised by telling you what you should be doing each day and how, and he found these pre-printed tools too restrictive and he stopped using them after a few weeks (like I did with my diaries).
He took a notebook and a pen and came up with a system involving keeping a log each month of what needed to be achieved in each area of life/work, then each day a log what tasks he had to do or which had been done, like a to do list and a diary all in one.
It could also be used to track ideas and projects and thoughts and all this in a flexible system.
This made perfect sense to me.
I liked the idea of having one book which you essentially fill in as you go along and if you want to dedicate space in that book for notes on a specific project or for tracking habits/moods or for spending a few minutes brain storming you could do that.
I live with bipolar disorder and keeping track of moods and making sure I have a good routine where I get a healthy amount of sleep and that I remember to exercise and monitor my medication are all essential and help me manage a condition that many struggle with.
This was THE tool I had been looking for.
The more I looked in to other people’s uses for the bullet journaling system I found that it was helping people with so many different aspects of their lives.
I started out after buying another new notebook, and at the end of my first full year using this system I looked back and realised I had achieved everything I had set out to achieve.
Why? Because everyday I was looking at my goals which were written there in my book and I was reminded that each day if I could find the time to do just one thing to progress towards my goals that it made being productive so much easier than I had imagined.
I had become immeasurably more productive (my husband definitely appreciated this).
This tool works as an accountability tool.
It is in its very essence a mindfulness tool.
It allowed me to track my journey through the year and as I filled in the last page of the notebook I looked back at all I had achieved and knew there was no going back.
I really recommend you watch Ryder Carroll’s How to Guide and his TEDx talk on Youtube:
You’ll soon see how simple a system this is and that it really could change your life.