I have a confession to make. I’m one of those “trendy” folks currently riding high on the bullet journal train. Admittedly, I didn’t get started with it out of any great desire to fit in. I had just gotten frustrated by the lack of adaptability of traditional planners. My needs tend to change based on the time of year, so a published planner ends up only being useful for a short time. Enter the bullet journal.
What’s a Bullet Journal?
For those that are unfamiliar with the bullet journal method of planning, I highly recommend stopping by the official site for an overview of how it works. At the most basic level, it is crazy simple. You create an index, a yearly calendar, a monthly calendar, and then daily entries. There are a set of symbols used to define whether an item is an event, a task, a note, and even how important it is. Each day you mark the completed tasks, migrate the ones still due, and cross out the ones you don’t need to track anymore.
All in all, it takes about 15 minutes to set up, and maybe 5 each night… assuming all you do is use it as a planner. However, I would argue that if you only use your bujo (short for bullet journal) for planning alone, you are missing out on a whole world of other possibilities.
Bullet Journaling and Your Mental Health
For years, mental health professionals have spoken to the importance of journaling for tracking, exploring, and processing emotions. Now, I don’t know about you, but when it comes to traditional journalling I tend to end up in one of two categories. I either start out strong and them completely fizzle out after a week or two (because, seriously, who wants to spend that much time writing by hand?). Or, I start at the blank page in complete desperation because when it comes time to actually talk about how I feel I run out of words.
When you tie your planner and your journal together, however, it can make it a lot easier to keep going. And if you fall off the journaling habit, it’s easy enough to get on again because you’re already using your journal as a planner. The other part is that many bullet journal aficionados have found ways to use them for reflecting on the good parts of their days, tracking their new habits, and tracking moods and/or physical wellbeing. When therapists and psychiatrists see that, they tend to dance with glee.
Imagine going in to your psychologist and when they ask “how have you been lately?” you can pull out your planner and show them. Imagine the instant feedback from being able to cross off the healthy habits you’re trying to establish (remembering that it’s okay and to be expected that you’ll miss things too). Imagine being able to pull out your journal and open to a page full of all the wonderful things that have happened to you in the last month and how helpful that could be on the really hard days. Imagine. And then do it!
Yeah, I hear you:
I’ve seen those other journals and I can’t do anything that fancy!
To that I say, meh. So what? Honestly, some days I draw pretty little boxes around my sections and make somewhat interesting layouts. Others I’m just scribbling the list down. Again, it’s part of what I love about bullet journals. It adapts to my mood and my energy levels. In fact, it’s a pretty easy way to see when I’m headed into a depressive state because I stop trying to lay it out and just slap the info down on the page.
So, if you’re interested, please don’t let the fancy pictures discourage you. There’s a lot of value in journaling and bullet journals are one of the easiest ways to go about it. That said, if you’re into the fancy swirls and doodles, by all means, go for it! Personally, I’m a master at stick figures and squares.
Ultimately, it comes down to whatever works for you. For me, my bullet journal is a fun way to keep track of my life. Now that I’ve started, I can’t image going back and trying to live my life without it!