In today’s society it can feel like you are always running at a million miles per hour. There is an endless list of things to be done and deadlines to be met. Many times, things get overlooked or the tasks can seem overwhelming, which can lead to extra stress in life.
This was the story of my life as a young professional. I had always been very good at keeping track of my studies, but shifting into a career brought on more challenges. I struggled to find a planner that could account for everything until I stumbled upon the bullet journal system.
What is a bullet journal?
The bullet journal was created by Ryder Carroll. Carroll was diagnosed with learning disabilities at a young age and needed a system to keep him on track. He ended up creating a system that combines mindfulness and productivity. I like to think of a bullet journal as my brain on paper. It is much more than a journal but a way to organize events, to-do lists, reflections, goals, and really anything you can write down or draw. A bullet journal can be as simple or complex and creative as you want to make it. That is the beauty behind the system; there is not one format that you are stuck with. You can create the spreads and collections that work best for your life. The bullet journal uses concepts of mindfulness to help you live and plan more intentionally, and ultimately end up being more productive.
Bullet journal basics
The first thing to start creating your own bullet journal is to choose a notebook. I have learned that I prefer notebooks with dot or grid paper, as it gives me better control to create a variety of layouts versus being limited with horizontal line paper.
Next, I set up a weekly spread where I can note my to-do list, events, and notes for each day. I usually create my weekly spreads two to three weeks at a time. I also create a monthly spread to keep track of upcoming events and to create some monthly goals. The last spread, which I think is important, I call future planning. This consists of two pages with six months into the future. These can come in handy to keep track of appointments and events that fall outside of your current month.
Bulletjournal.com has a great tutorial video on how to get started, and they also feature a blog that has tons of inspirational bullet journal spreads and collections.
My favorite part of my bullet journal is the collections I have created. These are pages with topics that hold your interests or things that fall outside of monthly and weekly planning. These can also be a place where you can organize or plan out your career goals and create actions plans to reach them.
Below are some collection ideas:
- Monthly Budget
- Bill Payment Tracker
- Goals (Personal and Career)
- Habit Tracker
- Meal Prep
- Workout Log
- Reading List
- Reflection Journal
- Debt Tracker
- 30 Day Challenges
I have found that the collections can really help me stay focused on my daily tasks, and give me short- and long-term goals to work towards. The collections can also work like a brain dump, getting it all out on paper to clear up some room in your mind to be more creative or focused.
Creating your own success
Winston Churchill put it best when he said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.” Bullet journaling has been a huge motivation and organization tool in my life. Not only has it helped me be more mindful in my day-to-day life but has improved my time management skills. When I see my list of events and tasks each day I am able to prioritize them by importance and even shift tasks to other days when I see fit. Having the daily, weekly, and monthly spreads helps to make sure that things don’t go missing and all deadlines can be met. This has not gone unnoticed by my managers and supervisors either!
On a final note, even if bullet journaling does not work for you, finding a system that can keep all of the aspects of your life organized will set you up for so much success in your life and career.