About a month ago (see review of April 2018), one of my friend showed me her bullet journal. I had heard of them and had seen a few ads on Facebook but I had never seen one in real life. She told me that she started hers because she was always doing 100 things at the same time and was doing a bad job of keeping track, thus becoming notoriously unreliable.
That sounded just like me ! So I thought I’d give it a go and try it out for at least a whole month. Here is my experience after 30 days of “bullet journaling” !
What does my bullet journal look like :
- I bought a simple A5 notebook, with dots from Amazon (the Lemome) as I wanted to be able to make my own lists. It comes with a ruler and a nice pen, which are both very helpful and will wake up the “good student” in you
- In true bullet journal fashion, I have 3 pages for my Future Log (monthly view of important events and tasks, such as holidays, birthdays, MOT etc), then 1 page per month with a complete view of my month. I then have my daily view (3 days per page) with half the section for key events and half for daily tasks.
- My current thematic pages are (for HOME and WORK) :
- HOME : A list of 36 go-to recipes for lunch and 36 go-to recipe for dinner, for quick inspiration when doing my Ocado shopping
- HOME : A monthly meal planner that I fill in one week at a time, again to assist with grocery shopping and balancing our diet
- HOME : A good habit tracker with all the things I want to do for myself on a regular basis (Read, Write, Photograph, Exercise, Socialize, Pray and Pamper myself). Everytime I do one, I put a tick !
- WORK : A lexicon with all the work jargon and acronyms that I should remember but always forget (not anymore !)
- WORK : My notes from important strategy meetings as these notes are important to keep preciously and regularly refer to. Not all of my notes go in the bullet journal, only the things that I know will remain important in the coming months.
- WORK : A list of game changer initiatives for my current project, along with completion date (planned or actual) and owners, for a quick scan of how things are progressing
- In the future, I plan to add the following thematic pages :
- HOME : A “perfect suitcase” for week-ends away and holidays, in particular for the girls, as forgetting one item of paraphernalia (a dummy, a dolly, a music box…) can create chaos !
- HOME : A training tracker for when I will start preparing for the Cardiff 10K run which is in September
- HOME : A gardening page with reminders of regular tasks to perform in our garden
- WORK : A “feel-good” page with list of good moments that happened at work (positive feedback, good team meetings etc) to help me through any dip of self-confidence
- WORK : My notes from my 121, both with my boss and with my direct reports, to make sure feedback is captured and improved upon
How is it helpful ?
After 30 days, I find it helps me most in the following dimensions :
- Be more organized : Having both events and tasks on a paper support means less frequently losing track of what needed to happen when. When tasks and meetings are on different support (Outlook calendar for meetings and a Trello board for tasks for instance), it is easy to make the mistake of scheduling many tasks on a day of meeting. With a bullet journal, all is laid out in front of me and I get a better sense of my operating rythm for the month. I am sure there are some electronic 2.0 solutions that exist but sometimes, paper is the winner !
- Carry less mental load : The bullet journal gives me a reliable way of keeping track of everything that needs to be done. It doesn’t necessarily mean achieving more but it certainly means less brainspace is wasted on remembering a to-do list. The flipside of that : if it is not on the bullet journal, it doesn’t get done, so it is best to carry it everywhere.
- Be gentler on myself : The event-and-task hybrid view encourages me to be more realistic about how much I am able to achieve in a given day. You know that bad feeling at the end of an exhausting day spent doing stuff but accomplishing nothing ? The bullet journal sets expectations and the “tick” is an instant reward. The good habit tracker is a wonderful addition as it helps me see when my personal balance is off and encourages me to make the necessary adjustements. I don’t know about you, but the happier I feel, the better I am as a boss, spouse and mother.
Are there any cons to bullet journalling ?
I can see one : sustaining it for a long time requires a lot of persistence and commitment. The reward is strong yet it is easy to go back to previous habits and stop journalling for a few days when things get really hectic. I think at some point, it is necessary to add “fill in bullet journal” in your bullet journal if you want to keep going at busier times !
Overall, this first month has convinced me that it is worth continuing. Tomorrow, I will plan the month of June (ugh, actually tomorrow is a day of meetings, so I will do this Thursday ! Thank you Bullet journal :))