Bullet journaling burst onto the scene in 2013 and exploded in popularity over the last decade. Productivity experts, life coaches, and bloggers of all stripes extol the virtues of bullet journaling for simplifying their lives and improving their productivity.
The bullet journal’s origins begin with mental health. Digital product designer Ryder Carrol struggled with his ADHD diagnosis and sought to design a method for keeping track of his life that worked alongside his ADHD. The bullet journal method was born.
What is the Bullet Journal Method?
The Bullet Journal Method is a system for personal productivity. It organizes everything someone needs, from schedules, to-do lists, appointments, reminders, trackers, and more, into a single notebook or planner.
Many people use their bullet journals to track things like weight, moods, habits, or diets, while others use them to track their progress on personal goals.
The Benefits of Bullet Journaling
Bullet journaling is a fantastic tool for productivity, organization, and mental health. Here are some tremendous benefits you can reap from starting a bullet journal.
The most well-known benefit of bullet journaling is increased productivity. Jacob Udodov, founder and CEO of task management platform Bordio, says journaling improves productivity because it helps you clarify and structure your thoughts.
“Let’s say you want to focus on a new project but feel all over the place. Bullet journaling will facilitate you to come up with a list of key tasks and goals,” Udodov explains.
He continues to say that it’s okay if your initial plan is short and basic. Your simple plan will become a starting point for something bigger.
Mark Joseph, owner of Parental Queries, a website dedicated to helping busy parents succeed, agrees. He says journaling improves productivity because writing down your thoughts can help you prioritize and reflect.
Journaling may not help you organize your home, but it can help you organize your thoughts and, thus, your life. Sarah Watson, psychologist, certified coach, and COO of BPTLAP, says that making simple lists and charts in your bullet journal can help you organize your time.
For example, Watson says you can create a monthly calendar to help you plan your work and keep track of deadlines. You can also make weekly lists to remind yourself of important tasks you need to accomplish.
A bullet journal helps you organize all your thoughts, ideas, appointments, tasks, projects, and everything else in your busy life.
Provide Insights into Challenges
Joseph recommends journaling to busy parents because it can provide insight into their challenges. Writing down your thoughts, feelings, and ideas allows you to work through and review them. The journaling process will help you handle situations wisely and prevent you from making rash decisions.
An excellent bullet journal spread will include room for thoughts and musings, providing space to work through any complicated problems that arise.
Emma Williams, a certified strengths and career coach who serves as the Chief Research Officer at HIGH5, says bullet journaling is a fantastic tool for clarifying priorities, allowing you to focus on the most important things.
When you write your goals, tasks, and to-do list in a journal, you can see which items need immediate action and which can wait. Creating these lists also helps you see which tasks are related and in what order you need to accomplish things for optimum results.
Bullet journaling helps you stay focused on your goals. When your brain starts to wander, you can quickly open your bullet journal pages for a reminder of what you’re supposed to be doing.
Watson says bullet journaling can help you set clear intentions for each day, which can help us filter through the distractions and stay focused on the things that matter.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep going if we can’t see how far we’ve come. Bullet journals allow users to track their progress toward goal accomplishment.
Watson explains that one way to see your progress with a bullet journal is by breaking your larger projects down into smaller action items. It’s easier to track small action items than large goals, and you will get a sense of accomplishment seeing everything you’ve already completed.
Bullet journaling can also help you track progress on personal goals, whether you want to read more books, lose weight, or add more veggies to your diet. Include a habit tracker in your spread and give yourself the satisfaction of filling in the little circle whenever you accomplish that daily habit.
Make Smart Decisions
One of the best “secret” benefits of bullet journaling is that it helps you make better decisions. When your entire life is organized in an easy-to-access plan, you can refer to it for decision-making. You can quickly determine when you’re over-committed and decline an opportunity. You can see your calendar and schedule events that work for you.
Another way journaling helps you make better decisions is by freeing your mind to think important things through. Productivity expert David Allen says our heads are for having ideas, not holding them. When our minds are full of tasks and schedules, we can’t use our brains for what they do best: thinking through problems.
A bullet journal helps us record essential things we need to remember in our external brains, freeing our minds to make better decisions.
Develop an Action Plan
Goals without a plan are just a dream. Bullet journals help you turn your goals into reality by helping you develop an action plan toward achieving them.
Using a bullet journal, you can record your goals and then brainstorm what it would take to achieve them. Often, our main goals are enormous milestones that take months or years of planning, but each starts with a tiny step.
Watson says a journal can help you break those larger projects into smaller action items, making it easier for you to accomplish each step and determine the next steps in your workflow.
If it were easy to accomplish our goals, they wouldn’t be goals. Obstacles abound in life and have a way of cropping up to block our plans.
Bullet journaling can help you identify and address obstacles before they become a hindrance. Williams says using your journal regularly for reflection can help you identify areas where you need to adjust your approach. Reflecting on and addressing minor issues will prevent them from becoming significant roadblocks.
A magical benefit of bullet journaling is that it can be whatever you want it to be. Use it to set an intention about your overall life and focus your energy on that intention.
Your overall intention should lead to daily purposes. Set an intention each day, and ensure your daily tasks and priorities align with that intention.
Writing everything out in your journal can help you ensure that the things you are doing align with the intentions you set.
Clear Your Mind
Journaling helps you clear your mind. Use the brain dump method to record all your thoughts onto paper, freeing space in your mind to think. Use the writing space in your bullet journal for a stream-of-consciousness dump, where you let all your thoughts freely flow out of your brain and onto the page.
Alternatively, as Allen proposes, you can use your journal as an external brain. When you record all the critical items you need to remember externally, your brain is free to think its own thoughts, granting you space for new ideas.
Bonus: Journaling is Great for Mental Health
A bullet journal is a fantastic tool for productivity, but journaling, in general, has many great mental health benefits. Journaling can reduce stress, relieve bottled-up emotions, and work through past trauma.
A bullet journal with space for free writing is the best of both worlds. The free area provides an opportunity to write what comes to mind, work through complex emotions, and even gain insight into your behavior. Other spread components, including habit trackers, task lists, goals, calendars, and whatever else suits your needs, can help you organize your life and reap the productivity benefits inherent to bullet journaling.
Why Do People Love Bullet Journaling?
People love their Bujos! Bujo is the shorthand term for bullet journal, a term lovingly embraced by influencers preaching the virtues of the bullet journaling method. People love bullet journals because it’s an effective way to organize your life.
Bullet journals are useful because they are highly customizable. You can track anything you need to follow in your journal. People who need to visualize things can draw and use stickers to highlight essential items, while list lovers can dedicate their entire journals to different to-do lists.
Most users prefer a mix of charts, calendars, lists, and open space, but you can fill the pages of your journal in whatever way best suits your needs. You can leave room for doodles, sketches and to let your creative side take control if you’d like.
Artisitic people may want to combine their functional bullet journal with a creative junk journal or art journal. A combo journal will help them get the best of both worlds, allowing them to express their creativity while staying on track to complete essential items in your life.
There’s no wrong way to use a bullet journal, which makes them valuable for many people.
Why Do People Quit Bullet Journaling?
Bullet journaling isn’t for everyone. It’s a great productivity tool for many people, but some find it doesn’t work for them.
Everyone is different, and no one tool will work for everyone. People quit because bullet journaling doesn’t work for them.
You can still reap the benefits of journaling without a journal. Williams says that, ultimately, the key is finding a system that works for you and fits into your lifestyle. It may be a journal, but it may be an online tool like Evernote or Trello. Some would prefer to use a planner or a traditional notebook.
If you tried bullet journaling and couldn’t keep up with it, don’t sweat it. Not everything works for everyone.
Try Bullet Journaling
If you haven’t tried bullet journaling yet, what are you waiting for? Grab a journal and see if organizing your life on paper is the hack you need to improve productivity and accomplish your goals.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.