This post is specifically about how my bullet journal works for me. How it makes my life easier, calmer, makes me feel in control and like I’m looking after myself. But first, here’s a bit about what a bullet journal is and how I got into using one.
Getting started with a bullet journal
I’ve been using a bullet journal now for about 5 years. I can hardly remember how I kept myself organised before that. What I do know is that my organisation was a blur of notebooks, planners, diaries, online systems and many bits of paper. A recipe for disorganisation, losing things and feeling overwhelmed!
I knew I was a paper and pen person, and that using online systems just didn’t work for me. There has always been something about writing everything down that makes me feel more in control. Not only of what is happening day to day, but of my thoughts. Not allowing them to overwhelm me or make me think I’ve got too much to do and can’t manage.
I stumbled across bullet journaling when a friend gave me a bullet journal for my birthday. And, I realised it was a blank book! I had no idea what it was or what to do with it. I visited the www.bulletjournal.com website and watched videos created by Ryder Carroll, the mind behind the method. Pretty quickly something resonated with me. It was a system that hinged around an index page and the use of different symbols to show what had or hadn’t been done. Or if it had moved, where to.
Bullet Journal discovery
But what really sold it to me, was that I realised that there weren’t any rules!! You could follow Carroll’s original method if you wanted to, but the whole thing was open to interpretation. It was also possible to get creative, something I didn’t think was inside me anymore. It gave way to the discovery of just getting lost in collaging or creating with washi tape, stickers and stencils. Not something for everyone, but for me it became a new and much needed way of finding some downtime and mindfulness.
So, fast forward 5 years and here we are. Many bullet journals under my belt – I tend to use one journal every 4 months. Many techniques and systems experimented with, and a continually evolving organisation process that really works for me.
How does my bullet journal work for me?
So, after much thought, trial and error, here are the top 5 ways my journal works for me:
1) Calming my mind
As a Life Coach, one of my favourite, foolproof tools for tackling overwhelm, is to write it all down. I can’t remember how many times clients have said “I just don’t know where to start and I have way too much to do”, or similar. Writing it all down always comes up trumps. There may well be lots to do. But it’s usually not as overwhelming once it’s down on paper rather than swirling around in your head.
So, whether I’m jotting down notes in a meeting or creating a master list of tasks to tackle long term in my business or at home, writing it all down ensures my mind is quiet and calm. Knowing everything is written down allows you to let go. You know you’ve locked it in, decided when to do it and won’t forget.
2) Keeping me organised.
Another important why in which my bullet journal works for me is organisation. I choose to use my bullet journal for my full diary management and don’t use any online systems. Admittedly, this does require some initial setup, but that really doesn’t need to take a long time. The beauty is that writing things down allows you to commit them more to memory and absorb details. I find that really helps the processes in my brain around what my time looks like day to day and week to week. So helpful for balance.
I then have my days planned out so I can clearly see where I have appointments, tasks to complete and where I have time available. To do this, I use a colour coded system. Again, this is fantastic for creating balance. I can see where perhaps I’m lacking in self care and focussing only on work or other people’s needs.
My favourite bit of the organisation system is that, with a quick daily and weekly round-up, I can see exactly where I’m at and what’s happening next. That allows me to close my bullet journal and relax, knowing I’m on top of things.
3) Making me more productive.
As mentioned above, I plan out my days so I can clearly see where I have chunks of time available to focus on tasks or projects. Some people call this time-boxing and I find it really effective.
As well as this, I like to work with Master Lists. So whether I’m thinking about my business, my family, my me-time or my home, I can create a list of tasks I would like to get done. It doesn’t matter if that’s this month or even next year! But having a Master List means I have somewhere to put things whenever they come up in my mind. Then they’re not going anywhere. These are the kinds of things that I would previously have made into lists that I then lost or never acted on!
By using my bullet journal in this way, I can then visit those lists on a regular basis, planning in time to get them done and start ticking them off.
4) Giving me mindfulness and boosting my wellbeing.
Sometimes I struggle to find time to do something mindful. Things that allow me to let go of my stresses and feel calm and peaceful. I can also feel guilty when I take time out, even though it’s a necessity!
But somehow, spending time creating in my bullet journal just feels worthwhile. It’s a lovely escape from the day to day.
One thing I love, is to create habit trackers to support my health, such as regular exercise, taking supplements or reading books. The list is endless. And this leads me on nicely to my final point.
5) Helping me revisit and nurture my kind of creativity.
When I was young, I loved to collage. Not with any intention other than pleasing the slightly creative side of me that loved images and colour and texture.
Bullet journals have brought about a huge sense of creativity that can be taken in any direction you want it to. Just search ‘Bullet Journals’ on Pinterest and you’ll be wowed by the amazing range of creative spreads that are displayed.
Of course, one thing this has done is make some people feel they can’t bullet journal because they’re not creative. But, let me tell you!.. Being creative doesn’t mean you have to be able to do calligraphy or draw things. I have great fun with cutting up magazines and using washi tape, stickers and experimenting with different lettering and using colour.
Creativity is, again, mindful. It’s a great way to have a break and potentially come back with greater problem solving ability or renewed energy for your workload.
I highly recommend trying it!
We run regular bullet journal workshops to encourage others to give this amazing system a go. You can find all our workshops here. And if you already practise, now I’ve told you how my bullet journal works for me, let me know how yours works for you!