The title of this post is a joke, of course. In my years in search of workflow peace of mind, I’ve only gotten as far as “this is working pretty well, all things considered.” And pretty well can be good enough.
One of my abiding beliefs is that if I can keep things neat and organized, life will be less stressful. This belief is at the root of my love of Marie Kondo and Apartment Therapy, and my on-and-off dedication to a practice known as bullet journaling.
Is it still dedication if it’s on-and-off? I say yes. We humans are flawed and distracted, prone to unscheduled naps and to chasing squirrels on the internet. This is why we need something that we can start again after we stop.
We need a plan that plans for the near certainty that we are not going to stick to the plan. It needs to be straightforward. It needs to be speedy.
Enter the Bullet Journal
A few years ago, in a time of many to-do lists, I came across the bullet journal (or “bujo”) system at bulletjournal.com. Bullet journaling got me through that year, and I’ve kept at it, imperfectly but to good effect, since then.
Bullet journaling is a simple system that you can learn in a few minutes and maintain without fuss. The best part: you don’t have to be perfect at bullet journaling for bullet journaling to improve your life.
How the System Works
The video up top explains the system in four minutes. This is basically all the instruction I’ve had, or needed, in several years of bullet journaling.
Bullet journaling can work with any notebook. The Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal, sturdy and plain, is the notebook of choice of the bullet journal system’s inventor, Ryder Carroll. At my instigation, the MDK Shop carries it, straight outta Germany.
One excellent feature: you do not have to charge a bullet journal. It’s analog all the way.
The pages are not dated, so you have maximum flexibility. (You don’t have to start in January, for example. You can start anytime.) If you stop journaling for a few days (weeks) (months), your journal is not ruined, and neither is your year. You just open your notebook to a fresh page and start back up again.
The system teaches you how to migrate tasks forward so that they stay in view, which is a great stress reliever. Over time, the routine of writing tasks down, reviewing them, checking them off, and migrating them, helps you achieve a more orderly existence. It happens almost without effort, and certainly without making bullet journaling a cumbersome additional chore.
Bullet journaling is not just about getting work done; it’s also fun. You can make pages to collect or track almost anything, from the daily glass-of-water count, to books you’ve read (or want to read), to sweaters you want to knit (and how many yards of yarn they will require). You can track anything you like. Movies. Pieces that are missing from your Pyrex collection.
Artistic types doodle and decorate their bullet journals, while others keep it bare bones. (I have two stitch markers taped into mine, in case of emergency.)
The fun part of bullet journaling is that it also functions as a diary, or even a scrapbook. Once a friend took her notebook out of her bag, and a love note from her husband came fluttering out of its pages. She keeps it there, with ticket stubs and postcards. I haven’t even begun to discover all the fun to be had with washi tape, but 2019 might be the year I stick tabs on each of my monthly overview layouts, so I can find them without using the index.
But the absolute best thing you can do with a bullet journal is to use it to help you make headway on big dreams and schemes. A renovation or a novel, a cartoon or the first draft of a poem—you can make a page for anything, and keep adding as you go. The more you use your bullet journal, the more it becomes a record of your life, a keepsake, a touchstone.
Let’s Do It Together!
While I don’t make resolutions anymore, I do like to dust myself off at the beginning of a new year.
One thing I’ve realized: things don’t get done just by writing them in my book. The secret sauce of bullet journaling is in the review and migration functions. So in 2019, I want to spend more time with my bullet journal: looking at it, crossing things out (my favorite!), and contemplating what’s important, on a regular basis.
Starting each work day with ten minutes of bullet journaling seems like a habit worth cultivating, for an enhanced sense of on-top-of-it-ness.
If you think this project would be helpful and/or amusing, join me in the Lounge, under the topic Welcome to the BuJo Show.
Show us your BuJo!