The One With the Bullet Journal

I have started bullet journaling some years ago (here is a brief introduction to it). I got dragged into it by a YouTube video on this new way of organising your to-do lists, diary and events, with lots of pretty layouts and collections. I used this for some time for different purposes: I organised my classes, reading lists and assignments for university, had monthly layouts for planning events/appointments, logging my time and keeping a gratitude journal, as well as different collections for random things (in different variations of pretty/artsy).

I really liked the idea of having a calendar/journal that was not pre-defined but completely made by me, the way I needed it. I had used calendar notebooks before that had a whole page for a day so I could organise my to-dos and some random notes, but it always stressed me out to have blank pages for days where I just didn’t do anything or wrote down any notes. The bullet journal with its way of setting up pages just when you needed them was great for not having a reminder of “failure” with empty pages.

This year the Bullet Journal’s creator, Ryder Carroll, published a book on the bullet journal method, how and why it was created with lots of practical tips on how to set up a bullet journal to help with your life goals and learning.

I have finished the Practice chapter today and there were a lot of things in it that related to my current situation with trying to find a learning path / career goals and trying to be more mindful / less stressed in daily situations.

Some things I took away from the book and am using now / will use soon:

  • Writing something down means allowing your mind to let go of it. I had done mostly to-do lists in my dailies before and a daily TIL note, but that was it. I am now using my dailies to log a lot more of what I am doing, what I have struggled with, what I am thinking about and so on. I’m still keeping my TIL segment at the end of each daily entry though, to have a reminder that even on slow/shitty days I learned something
  • Doing a morning and evening reflection provides a great window for a digital detox: After reflecting on the day you had, don’t use your phone until after you have written down your plans for the day and/or thoughts that have come up in the morning. Reflection is important to see if your goals are still the right ones and you are still on track or to shift focus and find a better way forward. It’s like a Retrospective. Daily ones can be short, monthly/yearly ones can actually be done in a Retrospective format. Carroll has a Web Design background and talks a lot about splitting your goals into sprints and other agile methods. He even mentions rubber-ducking as a problem-solving tool!
  • A reminder that for everything we are saying yes to, we are saying no to something else. I forget that sometimes.
  • The only thing we can control is the way we react to something. I need to work on responding more thoughtfully instead of reacting instantly/instinctively.
  • I have never liked and will never voluntarily do any kind of obituary / letter to future self exercise.
  • Asking the 5 Whys for problems that I am blowing way out of proportion (I’m really good at that).
  • Using a Break-Sprint when you are really stuck on a big goal you are working on: Stop what you are doing and do something completely different for a set time frame.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is struggling with finding a path forward for themselves and who wants to find a way to log their progress / thoughts.

Other things I did today:

  • Went to my second funeral this year. This one was a lot less awful, but I’d still like to have a pause on those events for the next few years.
  • Published the first external event in a kind of old context where we were using Commanded and I actually got there with very little help and I even noticed a few things that were problematic on my own. Baby steps.
  • Baked a blue velvet cake which tastes pretty good, so apparently I converted all the weird American measurements correctly.

Things I don’t know much about:

  • Commanded, RabbitMQ, EventPublishing, still. But I got a bit closer today.