There are Bullet Journal (affectionately called BuJo) evangelists with elaborate layouts, and then there are Bullet Journal wannabes.
Attracted to the notion that we'll be more productive, happier, healthier, [insert your own goal here], we rush out, buy a fancy new journal and start making beautiful to do lists, exciting collections and then, poof.
What about those of us who want the Bullet Journal to fly into our lives and do its magic but the unicorn never arrives? That was me earlier this year when I thought maybe this can replace my trusty Planner Pad and journal. Ryder Carroll, the mastermind behind the Bullet Journal and author of the new book, The Bullet Journal Method, has heard this before and his answer? He asks us to pause and be mindful of what we want to get out of our Bullet Journals. We need to get to our "why" of what we're doing.
The Five Whys
Why is the why question so important? It helps us break a larger problem into manageable goals. In fact, the question is so important we need to ask it more than once - we need to ask that one question five times through a technique he cleverly calls the Five Whys. By really tackling the question by asking why after each answer, we start to see how we can approach the challenges individually.
As entrepreneurs, we rarely have time to breathe, let alone think about why we're doing what we're doing. We're being productive and producing. But is what we're producing what is important? Figuring out the proper way to Bullet Journal can help us identify those sweet spots we may be missing and whether we're even heading in the right direction. Asking why over and over helps us really see whether what we're doing to get there makes sense.
"We live in a time where we have started to worship productivity and understandably so, right?" Carroll starts. "You're getting things accomplished and you're making progress." What if, though, you're being incredibly productive working towards the wrong goal or an empty goal, he asks.
In his book, Carroll takes the first half of the book to explain how to use the Bullet Journal method before explaining the why, which is helpful because knowing the foundation helps you understand the method he uses to hone in on your real goals.
Write It Down
The very nature of having to re-write it forces you to pause and consider how important it is that this task remains on your list of things to get done. It has to fight to stay on.
Writing by hand forces us to "listen more closely, think about the information, and essentially distill others' words and thoughts through our own neurological filtration system and onto the page," he writes in his book.
He also shares in his book something his friend once told him that really stuck with him. "'The long way is the short way,'" he writes. "In a cut-and-paste world that celebrates speed, we often mistake convenience for efficiency."
Don't Get Distracted With All The Pretty BuJo Layouts
Many people first learn of Bullet Journals through social media and feature incredibly elaborate examples of layouts complete with colorful freehand illustrations. While Carroll doesn't mind how people trick out their BuJo's, the thing that gets obscured often is the actual system that lays the foundation for all the things can be built on, he says.
When I first tried my hand at Bullet Journaling, I didn't feel the need to have an elaborate journal but I admit I entered the BuJo world reluctantly. Always trying to find a better method to keep all the plates I had in the air from crashing on the ground, I wasn't willing to give up my trusty and reliable Planner Pad. To people like me, Carroll recommends I return to the fundamental question of the Bullet Journal: what do you want it to do for you?
"Once you start understanding what it is that you want to get out of this, then you can start picking the pieces that are aligned with your needs as opposed to just doing whatever's out there," he says.
For entrepreneurs, one of the best things it does is forces you to focus.
He admits entrepreneurs suffer from feeling overwhelmed. The Bullet Journal is there to remind you of what it is that you're working on and helps you consistently refresh your priorities on an ongoing basis, he adds.