5 Reasons the Bullet Journal is a Must Try for ADHDers
This post contains affiliate links. It was originally posted in Awesome Thoughts on ADHD.
For years – decades maybe – I have been trying to get it together when it comes to, well, just about everything… Paying bills, keeping a calendar, remembering where I put my to-do list (if I actually made one)… You get the picture. If you have ADHD, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t, you’re just shaking your head.
Then one day, I discovered the bullet journal.
What Is a Bullet Journal?
For those of you who haven’t heard of the bullet journal, it’s a planning system created by Ryder Carroll, a digital project designer from Brooklyn, NY. The official Bullet Journal website has a great video explaining exactly how it works with many helpful resources.
Please take a few minutes to watch Ryder Carroll’s explanation of his system. It’s definitely helpful to see the bullet journal in action. But for those of you who don’t have time for the video right now, here it is in a nutshell. The bullet journal is a user created, journal/planner that is held together by four main parts: the index, the future log, the monthly log, and the daily log.
You can also add longer journal entries, doodling, expense trackers, etc. There are endless possibilities. The index is the key. Since you are creating the content, you are free to start something new on the next page whenever you want. The only requirement is that you put the page numbers in the index, so you can find all of your items when you need them.
How the Bullet Journal Helped Me
I’ve tried all kinds of different paper planners and app related organizers to try and keep myself on track. They are all, well, too organized for me. The bullet journal allows me to create my own organization system. Here are two ways it helps me keep my life together. First off, it helps me to simplify – big time. I now keep track of appointments, to-dos, finances, grocery lists, and random thoughts all in one place. I keep it in my purse to jot things down and look at it (almost) ever night before I go to bed. It has also helped me become more accountable. When I write a task down and see it every day until I complete it, I am much more likely to get it done.
As we go through these five reasons, look for ways the bullet journal might help you improve your life. If you already have a bullet journal, add your thoughts in the comments section below.
5 Reasons The Bullet Journal is a Must Try for AdHDers
1. The Bullet Journal is great for Brain Dumps
I don’t know about you, but I have thoughts running through my head pretty much so 24/7, and a lot of them are pretty awesome – at least I think so. My thoughts are so awesome I’m completely distracted from cleaning the kitchen or finishing the report I’m writing at work… You know where I’m going with this. To stop the madness, I can grab my bullet journal, turn to the next blank page, and write down that amazing idea. Once I’ve recorded it, I don’t have to count on my unreliable memory to remember it later, and I am free to continue cleaning the kitchen or writing that report.
2. The Bullet Journal Allows You to Make Mistakes
Just thinking about this calms my brain. One of my biggest problems with planners is the premade (small) boxes and a limited amount of space (for cross-outs). I know I can use pencil, but I still end up writing sideways and there are smudges all over. I might put June’s appointments in July (I do this a lot), and then what am I suppose to do? In the bullet journal, if you screw up June and July, just put a pouty face over the whole big mess and start fresh on the next bank pages.
3. The Bullet Journal Creates Mindfulness
The word mindfulness is everywhere these days. Frankly, my ADHD brain instinctively rebels against the whole idea. It wants to be free to float from one distraction to another. But for some reason, the bullet journal makes mindfulness manageable. One of the key aspects of the bullet journal is looking at tasks in your calendar on a daily and monthly basis. If the task is accomplished, you mark it off. Tasks that are not completed are moved to the next day. It’s a great way to stay accountable, or “keep in mind”, what needs to get done.
I also have a monthly habit tracker in my bullet journal. Every day I mark off whether or not I have completed a short list of daily tasks I am trying to make habits. When I can see the tasks in front of me, I am much more likely to get them done. At the very least, I know which ones I still need to work on.
4. The Bullet Journal Keeps Everything in One Place
Over the years, juggling post-it notes, legal pads, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Outlook, and productivity apps have been a nightmare for me. I was always going from one method to another to keep track of my life at both work and home. While I love technology and still need Google as well as the occasional post-it note, the bullet journal is a great first stop for all kinds of information.
For instance, I keep my bullet journal in my purse at all times unless I am using it, and then it goes right back in my purse. I’ve made it a habit. If I have to add something to my schedule, it goes in my bullet journal. If I think of something for my grocery list, have an idea for a blog post, or remember an errand I need to run, it goes in my bullet journal. My daughter’s schedule, as well as my own, are in the journal. In addition, I keep track of my spending, which has really helped me with accountability.
The bullet journal is my go to when I need to record anything. That information may end up somewhere else eventually, like in an email, Google Doc, or app of some type, but since it was captured initially in the bullet journal, I always know where I can go to find a copy of it.
5. Your Bullet Journal is Uniquely You
I don’t know about you, but I am unique, and I’m happy to be so. I used to think I was just unique for no reason, but now I know that my brain is actually wired differently, which is kind of cool. This whole uniqueness might be why I like the bullet journal so much. I get to make it whatever I want it to be. If I make mistakes, which happens quite often, I can just turn the page and start over – sometimes gritting my teeth and sometimes laughing at myself. If you follow the system created by Ryder Carroll, you will have just enough structure to keep your journal organized but plenty of room to be creative and make it your own.
A Few Bullet Journal Tips
Before I send you out into the wide world of bullet journaling, I want to leave you with a few tips. When you jump online and start searching, you will be overwhelmed by the different ways people are using their journals. My suggestion is to keep it simple. Use Ryder Carroll’s video and resources to get the basics. Aside from the index and calendars, pick two or three items, or as Carroll calls them, spreads to add to your journal – Things that are most important to you, maybe a habit tracker, a spending log, and a grocery list.
Kim Alvarez also has a great post, Minimalist Bullet Journalists, on her blog Tiny Ray of Sunshine. It lists some of the best journalists who use a simple, efficient style, versus a lot of artistic extras, which can be overwhelming and time-consuming.
Unless you’re an artist and it’s in your very nature, don’t worry about making your bullet journal pretty. It’s a tool for you to stay organized and get things done. If you make a mistake, who cares! Cross it out and move on. Don’t let the Instagram pictures fool you, those people have messy pages, too.
As far as what kind of journal to use, any notebook will work. It’s important that you can take it with you, so make sure it fits in your purse or whatever you carry. Most bullet journalists prefer the Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover A5 Notebook from Amazon. This is the notebook I use, and I love the size and the fact that it is very durable. It also has dotted pages, giving it some structure but enough flexibility that I can get crazy and sketch the fruit basket on my table if I feel like it. It’s also important to get pens that don’t bleed through the paper. I like the Micron Pigma pens, also found on Amazon.
But again, you can start with any old notebook and pen lying around your house. It’s that easy!
What are Your Thoughts?
I titled this post “5 Reasons The Bullet Journal is a Must TRY for ADHDers”. I know our brains don’t all work in the same ways. Maybe the bullet journal isn’t for your particular type of awesomeness. I get that.
How many of you have tried the bullet journal already? Any great successes? Epic fails? Tips for newbies? Who thinks they might give it a try? I would love to know! Leave your comments below.