I recently started bullet journaling in an attempt to appease my ADHD brain. But before I bore you with the details, know that the entire concept of bullet journaling was created by a creative agency worker. Ryder Caroll evolved the method to organize his tasks, notate client meetings and reserve room for brainstorming—all while at an agency.
My latest attempt at bullet journaling was a last resort caused by nearly missing one appointment and completely missing another. Of course these appointments were not work-related, showing you where my true priorities are. I am tempted to sneak in the notion that I am the perfect mother by indicating how these appointments were not related to my children. But then I’d be misrepresenting myself as one who has her family priorities completely aligned.
My brain literally cannot “see” digital calendars, especially when overlaying three additional family members’ calendars on top of mine. Yet, this missed appointment had nothing to do with other peoples’ calendars and I don’t have any technological excuses. The truth is that I will ignore anything that is not work-related, even if it is something I want to do, such as the facial I missed on a Friday at 5 p.m.
Realizing that something needed to change—since I’ve never completely missed an appointment—I turned to bullet journaling once again. My past attempts never worked because the practice has always been presented in elaborate, unapproachable ways.
Thinking that maybe this time I should learn from the actual creator of the method, I picked up Ryder’s book, the Bullet Journal Method, and it has been working for me. Imagine that! Since bullet journaling was born in an agency setting, by an agency worker, I thought you may appreciate three key concepts I have learned from Ryder.
Bullet Journaling Is Customizable
Bullet journaling has the reputation of being overly complicated and fussy, but it doesn’t have to be. Rather, bullet journaling can be whatever you want it to be. In fact, the concept of rapid logging—where you free-flow your to-do list, writing down items as they come to you without organization—seems to be the opposite of complicated and works really well for the ADHD brain whose thoughts can be all over the place. My to-do list is messy with the most mundane personal items mixed in with large brainstorms.
Bullet Journaling Removes Clutter
Then, if you’re so inclined, the organization comes later as the items are merged into other sections of the journal. Or not! Another key takeaway was relentlessly removing the unimportant tasks to free up time. If an item keeps appearing on various lists, does it mean I can’t get to it, or does it mean that it isn’t important and should therefore be removed altogether? Or, if one fails to show up for her facial, should it have been on her list at all?
Bullet Journaling Brings Calm
Ryder suggests starting and ending the day by bullet journaling, which has brought an unexpected sense of calm ritual to my working days. Before launching in, I’ll light the RBG candle I stole from my daughter, sip my double espresso and sketch out my day. While working, I’ll break from the screen to proudly check off a completed item. However, I’m not leaving enough time at the end of the day to assess where I’ve been and where I’ll go next within my bullet journal, likely because I am working on any old project up until the last minute. There is always room for growth!
Yet, I’m most happy that I’ve consistently bullet journaled for over a month. Afterall, Ryder suggests maintaining the practice for at least a few months, saying that it all clicks into place at the month’s end as you merge items and forward-plan.
As I sat down to close out last month and think forward to this month, a few click click clicks of the brain and the pen occurred and I understood what he meant. I can’t promise that I won’t miss a personal appointment, nor that I will bullet journal the way it is outlined in the book, but that is not the point. I’m free to refine my practice into something that will work for me. It’s not pretty, but it’s mine.