The Bullet Journal. Productivity tool? Life’s Meaningfulness search? Sanity savior?

January 07, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Dream Come True Photo - adorable baby boy reading a bookDream Come True Photo - adorable baby boy reading a bookDream Come True Photo - adorable baby boy reading a book

“Being busy doesn't necessarily mean we're being productive”

Does this happen to you too? Yet another crazy-busy day: it starts with the toothbrush in the mouth as I am stumbling on a race from one room to another enticing, urging, ushering, shoving the kids downstairs for their breakfast; hair - just hide it under the hat or clip it, definitely not in the stars for today! Breakfast? On the go! Lunch will probably suffer the same fate if ever happens… Kids forgot what are they are supposed to be doing with that spoon (again?!); school bus tires are screeching outside… made it? Not?..

Oh, the ToDo lists! - are they the monsters eating us alive? Or sickly sad-eyed puppies constantly being swept away by higher priorities bombardment? Urgent, late, NOW! Should’ve been done yesterday!!! - those definitely are the monsters tearing my day into bleeding chunks.

Come, oh blessed night! First of all, I realize she did come a long time ago, when it is at least 3-4 hours past the elusive “normal” bedtime that I somehow can never meet face-to-face. I head towards my bed only when I get scared that the “Enter” button will become a permanent decoration of my forehead from falling asleep on a keyboard far too often. Does crawling towards my bed count as a workout? Is that really my dear little pillow? Agghh, the head is just exploding from all the thoughts, that stick out from the brain like electrocuted spiralized pasta… I don’t even like pasta! Oh, all the tasks, birthdays, responsibilities that shouldn’t be forgotten tomorrow; oh, my dear special projects that I wish to tackle so badly and scared that I never will!!!

I am an aggressive optimist. Yes, there is always a choice; yes, there is always something to be grateful for; yes, if you something upsets you or makes you unhappy - change it!!! Ok, this hectic unproductive madness upsets me a great deal. So, the everlasting student, and, yes, a perfectionist, AND a control freak, I am always on a quest to find a way to get this madness under control.

I have more digital apps on my phone to track/help focus/plan then letters of the alphabet. Not sure I even managed to open all of them at least once, ha-ha. Definitely lost track of them right after wasting all the time to set up yet another todo list up there too.

And the worst? This constant race to plow through those helpless todo lists seem to lack in the most important part: why am I doing it? Yep, at the back of my mind I have a gnawing feeling on meaninglessness of this endless chase…

“For most of us, “being busy” is code for being functionally overwhelmed.”

DreamComeTruePhoto_IMG_2673 Bullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll Review and impressionsDreamComeTruePhoto_IMG_2673 Bullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll Review and impressionsDreamComeTruePhoto_IMG_2673 Bullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll Review and impressions The first time I heard about the Bullet Journal, I was as doubtful as it gets! What?! Another task to add to my list? Fancy way to waste time listing out all the things I don’t ever have time to complete? Another something to worry about losing and forgetting?

I watched a few Youtube videos.

I snubbed off the “colored pens”, “special paper”, doodles and fancy fonts idea...

Yet, I picked up a book in a library and sceptically flipped through the pages.

Finally, I downloaded the audio version and started listening.

Ryder Caroll “The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future” book.

What got me hooked first - was the philosophy behind it: writing things in your apps keeps stuff there - away from your eyes; with things you accomplished immediately disappearing. Writing things you need to do on paper is surprisingly gratifying, calming, and… a lot more efficient! (That is actually a scientific, research based fact). No, Bullet Journal is not yet another list. It is a thorough system how to prioritize things that you need to do, how to painstakingly weed out everything that is not essential or important out of your life, how to accomplish the things that are vital or meaningful, how to keep the head clear… and the best yet - how to keep the perspective. Daily Logs - are not just tasks. It is a recollection of events, thoughts, and ideas. It allows to dump all those electrocuted spiralized-pasta mash of thoughts - on paper. Sort through them. Finetune the todo list only to those things that are both important, vital and meaningful. And (the best part!) continuously adjust this list and reflect on how much was actually accomplished, what is the meaning of the project and where to take it further.

“The Bullet Journal is designed to be your "source of truth.”

DreamComeTruePhoto_IMG_4405 Bullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll Review and impressions by A Dream Photo Elly DreamDreamComeTruePhoto_IMG_4405 Bullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll Review and impressions by A Dream Photo Elly DreamBullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll Review and impressions by A Dream Photo Elly Dream The system is uniquely simple and customizable. All you need is a notebook and a pencil. I didn’t even bother getting a special bulleted one, just grabbed the one at hand (though I did lavish myself with one for the new year - the bullet printed pages are the epitome of efficiency when it comes to helping you organize information on a page; the pages are thick and prevent bleeding ink through; the format of the official bullet journals is very helpful to keep it simple, consistent and efficient). I don’t indulge into cute little doodles or multicolored lettering projects. It is purely a productivity tool for me, and hell of a good one!

“It's part organization, part soul-searching, part dream-weaving.”


DreamComeTruePhoto_IMG_4402 Bullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll Review and impressions by A Dream Photo Elly DreamDreamComeTruePhoto_IMG_4402 Bullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll Review and impressions by A Dream Photo Elly DreamBullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll Review and impressions by A Dream Photo Elly Dream In a nutshell - Bullet Journal (BuJo) consists of so-called “collections”: ways to organize information. Collection Daily Log - is getting filled up throughout the day, Monthly Log - offers a birds eye view of things that took place this month, Future Log - Time Machine for keeping track of what is still happening in the future. There are special custom collections: I set up Goals & Dreams, a Workout Log, my Learning Log, my kids’ Doctor’s Visit Log (we’ve seen quite an array of doctors - keeping all notes in one easy to find and even easier to read place - boy, this was very helpful and helped us in decision making A LOT). Other people like to do Mood Trackers, Travel Collections, Medicine Effects Trackers, School Homework ones, Foods and Calories and Class Notes Collections. People track the collections of the Books they read, Movies they watch, Shows they wish to enjoy. I keep some of those lists digitally, but I have to admit - it is so much easier to see and evaluate things on a page, then scrolling through it on a phone…

“If the journey is the destination, then we must learn how to become better travelers.”

DreamComeTruePhoto_IMG_4403 Bullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll Review and impressions by A Dream Photo Elly DreamDreamComeTruePhoto_IMG_4403 Bullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll Review and impressions by A Dream Photo Elly DreamBullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll Review and impressions by A Dream Photo Elly Dream
BuJo starts with a very important collection called Index: a list of all collections and a page number where to find it. Oh, this one alone is worth in gold. Another one is the key - just a list of the most basic writing notation to use, such as a dot for a task, a circle for a month, an asterisk for an inspirational idea, etc.

BuJo becomes the best friend all day long. I start my day by setting up a Daily Log - jotting down everything that is twirling in my head - all events, tasks, thoughts for that day. That “unload” is both liberating and helpful to stay organized. I add some statement for an intention for that day, or an inspiration. As I go throughout the day, I get to cross off the things I accomplished (yes, now I do quite a lot of those!), add others that became important to this day, to my weekly log (if I need that task this week) or a Future Log. In the evening - in one easy swipe, I see what was going on, what I was able to complete, what still needs my attention the following day (otherwise it goes to the Future Log), or can be crossed off completely because it is simply not essential any more at all. This moment of reflection, a moment of gratitude: there is always something to feel gratitude for; there is not always enough time to slow down and feel it - nightly Review with BoJo offers that precious opportunity.

“Often all it takes to live intentionally is to pause before you proceed.”

Thoughts and observations go into Daily Log as well. I haven’t had it even for one month yet, but one story inside Ryder Carol’s book made quite an impression on me. It was about a man who was really surprised by the breakup of his new relationship, as he believed, out of the blue. Wrecking through his memories, he could not fathom what went wrong. The budding relationship appeared so promising to him! Flipping through the Daily Logs, he noticed that the girl never showed signs of reciprocating his warm feelings; he could not find any acts of kindness on her part; and he eventually realized that his emotional reaction to the building relationships, apparently, was totally one sided - the bond he believed was slowly connecting them together - in fact was purely imaginary. You could say: “I could bet it was the case even without a single look at his Bujo-shmoojo!..” Yes, I bet YOU could. But HIS emotions shielded that simple truth. It is so hard to convince our own mind when our heart wants to believe otherwise! Been there, done in self-deception game all of us so good at… It is scientifically proven that our memory plays tricks on us. No friend could be helpful here. Except... BuJo: seeing emotionless and accurate account of events, could provide just the right gentle nudge that we need to move onto the right direction. What I found especially helpful - was the practical application section at the second part of the book. Actually, I found these articles more philosophical about life, happiness, perfection - than action specific. And I was really suprised how much I appreciated that philosophy - I’ve been quoting it, relating, even reading entire passages to those who I thought could benefit!

“True efficiency is not about speed; it's about spending more time with what truly matters.”


So? At the time of finishing this article, I’ve been enjoying my BuJo for a few months. There is an enormous Bullet Journal following online, millions of videos and blogs (let me know if you wish for some links to the most helpful ones that I found!), social media and podcasts not only on productivity, but also on beautiful lettering, amazing doodles, favorite supplies, unbelievable array of creative paraphernalia inspired by this awesome tool. I steer clear from those: for me it is first and most a productivity tool, that helps me organize my life, stay focused, complete the projects that I find most important and fill my life with meaningful activities rather than overwhelming it with everything else bombarding it from all sides. I have other creative outlets, but if it really speaks to your soul, by all means, enjoy every minute ;)

I finally got that cool bulleted-paged version notebook and, in honor of a New Year, “migrating” my old records into the new journal, weeding out the nonessential and packing it only with those things that bring meaning, gratitude to my life and completion of my goals :)) I am surprised, how silly old-fashioned scribbling really does help me feel calmer and more in control. It does help me stay on top of things that I need to complete. It does help me to find the time for the things are truly important instead of falling prey of priorities that add little to my life or of those I love and care for. Whether bedbound with pneumonia, as I was so recently, or on a holiday madness rush - it happened to be one thing that not only honestly helped me get through the day, but also to structure it in a meaningful, intentional way to get towards my goals, dreams, and… happiness!!

Bullet Journaling - “Mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system”

Please share what you use for organization and sanity!
Have you heard of Bullet Journaling and interested to give it a try?
Let me know if you would like me to share organizational setups or tools that I found helpful!

“How do we best harness our curiosity while reducing the risk of failure? We set goals. When set with intention, goals can provide structure, direction, focus, and purpose.”

DreamComeTruePhoto_IMG_4410 Bullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll Review and impressions by A Dream Photo Elly DreamDreamComeTruePhoto_IMG_4410 Bullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll Review and impressionsBullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll Review and impressions by A Dream Photo Elly Dream
 

 

 

 


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