As I complete the third month of my bullet journal adventure I wanted to take a moment to encourage people, especially creatives, to give bullet journaling a try.
If you have a graveyard of unused and ineffective planners and calendars from years past, then BuJo might be the tool for you. If you find that the convenience of digital calendars and schedules also make it convenient to ignore or forget them, then this analog planning system might be right for you. And if you, like me, often have multiple notebooks that you use for work, school, journaling, art, to-do lists, etc and you’d like to simplify, then this single tool might work for you.
But WHY does it work?
Here are my top ten reasons why BuJo works for me, and might just work for you.
- Structure, but not too much structure. As a creative, I need to be able to switch things up frequently. I need a place to let my inner child play. Bullet journaling allows me to organize my chaos without eliminating it.
- Never lose awesome shit again. Unless you are using a spiral bound notebook to journal in, the pages are secure. All of your thoughts, musings, and doodles are preserved in one place. No more flipping through random notebooks to find your ideas. And that one line of awesome dialog that you wrote down on the train this morning is still there when you get back to it.
- Every artist needs an artist’s notebook. Writers, painters, creatives of all kinds spend a good portion of their waking hours scavenging for material. We collect them in cameras and on bits of paper. But more than that, there can be an artistry to life. A craftsmanship to living well. People who dedicate themselves to mastering whatever it is that they do need a notebook. A place to collect ideas, reflections, and notes. A BuJo is just such a notebook.
- BuJo encourages chaos. What does your chemistry homework have to do with your favorite Kpop band? Nothing. But in your BuJo the faces of those boys are lovingly pasted and curated on 17 pages. Mondays are completely omitted. Fridays require two whole pages and the list you started on page 4 is continued on page 37. IN the midst of all of this chaos there is order. Life is also like that. There is chaos, and out of that chaos comes art. Embrace it.
- The goal is to manage chaos, not eliminate it. The worst thing you can do is smother the will to resist in any creature. The world says sit still, and we say, no. The world says wear a suit and tie and we say, why? The world says to fit your life into these pretty pre-drawn boxes and we say, fuck that! While the impulse to take the path less traveled can be strong, managing it is the key to success. Bujo does that. It helps you get productive without trying to tie you to a set of rules and schedules. It meets you where you are and helps you find your way to where you want to be. Maybe this idea didn’t work, but the next one might.
- Its perfect for irregular lives and schedules. As a self-employed person and a creative my life don’t always fit on a calendar. Sometimes I work all night and sleep all day. Sometimes I only work three days a week but I spend the other four days brainstorming and doing research. If you have depression, ADHD, or anxiety disorders the pressure and silent judgment of empty boxes can be overwhelming. Instead of helping you organize your life it can feel like the empty pages are proof that you didn’t accomplish anything. BuJo allows you to celebrate your wins, no matter how small they may seem to others (some days just putting on pants is a win). It allows you to put your fears and thoughts on paper and face them. It provides space to express your feelings without judgments. SO what if there are two weeks between your last entry and this one? BuJo will meet you where you are.
- BuJo is a great community to belong to. Whether it’s on Instagram, youtube, amino, or Pinterest, the BuJo community is full of awesome people who encourage each other. You don’t have to have beautiful spreads, in fact, some people seek out simple or “messy” Bujo posts.
- Brains are for thinking, not storing. I have an idea, I write it down. I have an appointment, I write it down. I have a lot to get done today and don’t know where to start, I start by writing it all down. When you free up your mind you will find you have much more “head space” to focus on the tasks at hand and your executive functions will improve. You will be able to make better decisions as you eliminate the need to remember everything and are able to see patterns and habits unfold as you record your life.
- It’s both a productivity tool and a distraction. Its easy to spend hours drawing or scrolling through pages of pictures of bujo spreads. And while that can be soothing and enjoyable, it must also serve a practical purpose. I am of the opinion that the most beautiful things are the ordinary things. You take an ordinary notebook and turn it into the story of your life, complete with illustrations and graphs.
- It just fucking works. It does. I am not always sure why or how, but I do know that I am not alone in getting my whole life to work a lot easier after I began bullet journaling. It is NOT for everybody, but it is worth a try no matter who you are. If nothing else, you will quickly learn what YOU need to be your most productive self.