The Bullet Journal

In Which Our Heroine Attempts To Bring Order Out Of Chaos

As readers of this blog know, I am not the most organized person. My methods, particularly in the creative areas of my life, tend to be slapdash and haphazard. This leads to long breaks in productivity, a tendency to forget things (such as the fact that blogs need to be updated in order to remain relevant), and the necessity for scrappy “catching up” entries like this one.

Fortunately, I have been working on improving my organizational/planning skills over the past year, so I am hoping that I can go less than a year between blog entries. Apparently, creating an actual schedule helps. Who knew?

The most important organizational improvement I have made is using the Bullet Journal system by Ryder Carroll. I’ve been using the system for over a year now, in conjunction with a couple of mobile apps, and it’s working very well. I work better with pen and paper generally whether I’m planning or writing fiction, and the Bullet Journal has been great for that. I remember things better if I write them down by hand. Just the Index and Page Numbers have made a huge difference.

It all started with my notebook collection. I mentioned in an earlier entry how much I love notebooks, as well as my bad habit of purchasing notebooks and storing them in a drawer rather than using them. A little over two years ago, I decided that it was time to find a way to use those notebooks. I came across a tweet from Maureen Johnson about how she had nearly lost her Bullet Journal in a taxi. “What’s a Bullet Journal?” I (and several other people) asked. She sent us all to

I knew this was the perfect way to usefully consume at least some of the notebooks in my collection. I always try to carry a notebook on my person in any case. The idea of being able to put everything – plans, tasks, story ideas, sketches – in one, everyday notebook, and then to be able to reference and find everything when I needed it was an epiphany. It was simplicity itself, yet endlessly adaptable.

The best thing about the Bullet Journal system is that it has worked. I have filled notebooks. I have become more productive creatively. I have managed not to forget as many things or let them slip through the cracks. I still have a long way to go as far as forming productive habits, but I have consistently written in my journal every day (except perhaps one or two) for over two years now. I’ve modified the system to fit what works for me after extensive experimentation with different modules. I’ve also moved from the recommended A5 Leuchtturm1917 notebook to a B6 Slim “Fauxdori” Chic Sparrow notebook, as I’ve found it useful to split my Collections off from my Monthlies and Dailies. I still use digital apps like Google Calendar and Habitica, but I’ve integrated them into my Bullet Journal system.

One trap to avoid: There’s always that idea that, if we just buy the right pen/notebook/dividers/stickers/sticky notes/fill-in-your-favorite-stationery-supplies-here, we will instantly be effortlessly organized. If you want to take up this system, my best advice is to avoid the words “Bullet Journal” on Pinterest and Instagram for at least a month. The artistry that some people devote to their journals turns said journals into beautiful jewels – but that’s not where the focus needs to be. That’s additional stuff, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but a Bullet Journal should be functional first. Figure out what modules work for you, and go from there.The wonderful thing about the Bullet Journal system is that one uses whatever notebook one has on hand and whatever pen gives one delight.

This is not to say that I do not have an impressive collection of sticky notes and pens and glittery ink and suchlike. My powers to resist Shiny Things are not strong. But I am using these things, and I suppose that’s what counts.

Next on the list, of course, needs to be an Inventory and Organization of my Organizational Supplies. That always feels just a trifle recursive.

Have you tried the Bullet Journal system? Did it work for you? Do you want to, and just haven’t dipped your toe in yet? What’s stopping you? Let me know in the comments, and I will respond with encouragement!

Categories: Pondering | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Bullet Journal

  1. Completely agree that your bullet journal has to work for you rather than being a perfect photograph worthy spread. That said, I love looking at Instagram for inspiration!

    • Ovis Obscura

      Oh, I agree completely. But I think that many people are intimidated by Instagram and Pinterest when they start their Bullet Journals. (“Oh, I can’t do that – I can’t draw/am not artistic/don’t know where to start/et cetera.”) It’s important to make the tool work before decorating it.

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