“Every time you tear a leaf off a calendar, you present a new place for new ideas and progress.” — Charles Kettering
I would consider myself overscheduled, stretched too thin, at times frazzled. Years ago, how ‘busy’ I was was a sign of importance (“I’m too busy to do that!”) and awe (“How do you do it all?”). Now, when I have too much on my plate, it makes me cranky and annoyed. As a mother of two (it does not get easier as they get older by the way), wife, friend, a business owner, volunteer (and the list goes on), I have forgotten to pick up a child from school, dinner dates with friends, and yes, even my wedding anniversary and birthdays (several times).
A couple of months ago, it all came crashing down despite my best efforts to keep it together; several work journals to make numerous lists of things that needed to get done by project, apps to keep more lists and notes and project outlines, an analog calendar and digital calendar with a rainbow of colors to indicate appointments and schedules for five people. and reminders chiming at all hours on my phone weren’t helping me remember anything or easing my stress, fueled by everything that I ‘needed’ to get done.
In the midst of a contentious discussion with my 11-year-old about her Instagram (over) use, she schooled me. She showed me what she spends her time consuming: slime videos (with sound only because it’s more ‘satisfying’), makeup videos, DIY (anything) and Bullet Journal feeds. Then she showed me hers. I was gobsmacked. This was an analog approach (read: good old paper and pen) that looked simple, straightforward and beautiful.
I’ve been bullet journaling for a while now, and I can honestly, without hesitation, say that I’ve created more mental space and reduced my stress level. It’s still a work in progress (that's the point, by the way, you are continually improving methods, processes, etc.) but the most liberating part has been the utter joy I get when I cross out a task. Crossing it out doesn’t indicate that the task is completed; crossing it out means it was irrelevant, yes utterly irrelevant to my goals, to moving the needle in any way. Hello, mental space!
So, if you’re looking to try something new, grab a pen and a notebook (there’s a Bullet Journal app as well) and give it a try.
HOW TO GET STARTED with your bullet journal
Start simply. Watch these videos created by Ryder Carroll, creator of the Bullet Journal. Be careful though; you can get lost on YouTube and Instagram in the millions (no joke) of videos and posts that advertising “How To …”, “10 Best Templates” and “The Best Of …” My advice is this: if the Bullet Journal concept appeals to you, then focus only on this content. Start with The Origin Story, next Start Here, followed by Work vs. Home, and then Projects + Tips. If this speaks to you, move to the next step.
Read the book. Next, get the book, The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future. I finished it in 3 hours. If you want to get started ASAP, read Part 1, start the process and then read Parts 2 and three once you’ve started your Bullet Journal. I made notes all over the book and earmarked specific pages and keep it on my desk for reference. If Bullet Journaling still speaks to you, move to the next step.
Get your supplies. You have two choices here: buy the Bullet Journal on Ryder’s site or buy any dotted grid notebook. DO NOT over think this. Get a pen you like, a mechanical pencil and some white-out tape, and you’re set. You will see font calligraphy and amazing artistry as you explore the online community of BuJos but do not get sucked into the fashion right now; get the form right. Over time, you can add, enhance, and change your journal to reflect on how you work best.
Begin. For the next three months, follow the basic steps. It would be best if you were comfortable with the mechanics of reflection, migration and rapid journaling before jumping into the deep end. Once you feel like you’re getting the hang of it, start adding, experimenting and re-designing your collections.
My workday used to be a borage of notebooks, apps, sticky notes, and bells. Now, I have everything that I need in one notebook. Most importantly, my stress level has come down a notch, and all the things that used to swirl around in my head have a home, on a spread, in a collection. Onward.