Confessions of a bullet journal junkie

main.jpgHello, my name is Erica, and I have a Type A personality. To say that I can be obsessive is an understatement. It’s why I always volunteer as note-taker in meetings. It’s why I had memorized every lyric of Hamilton a week after buying the soundtrack. It’s why I frequently dive into new creative hobbies…most of which only last for about a week of intense investment. But one obsession that has stuck with me has been a desire to put my life down on paper. 

Like many adolescent girls my journaling began with a penchant for the dramatic. The middle school diary was a place for dissecting crucial issues like where to sit during lunch, what crushes had spurned my imaginary advances, and the reasons that Orlando Bloom should be worshiped. I wish I had these manifestos to look back on today, but with my embarrassed page-ripping and need to cleanse any lapses by tossing the previous failed attempt, nothing remains today but memories like smeared jelly roll pen. 

Fast forward to the beginning of my professional life, and while the writings are less melodramatic, they have been no less necessary to my sanity. Since college, a need for notes, an updated agenda, and running lists of all sorts has kept me in a state of hyper-organization. When I took the StrengthsFinder Assessment, it came as no surprise that my top strength was determined to be Input. A description like the one linked above told me, “You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information—words, facts, books, and quotations.” A key Action Item for Input is to, “Devise a system to store and easily locate information.” Hey, sounds like something I’ve been trying to do since middle school! 

Enter the Bullet Journal. I stumbled upon this Buzzfeed article two weeks ago, and have found my newest obsession. A Bullet Journal can take many forms, but essentially it is an agenda, to-do list, diary, goal-tracker, and collection of random lists all in one notebook. The original system, described here, includes an index, a glance at the full year, a monthly spread of events and tasks, and a daily log of coded bullets. It sounds complicated, but really it’s so much simpler than piecemeal scribbles in your phone, on post-its, and on scattered paper scraps.

I cracked my new Moleskine and climbed aboard the Bullet Journal bandwagon with my typical eagerness. I may try to present myself as a seasoned pro, but I will own that this new habit is, like me, a work in progress. I may only be two weeks into this, but here are four things I love about Bullet Journaling so far…

1. It can be anything you want it to be

I often get hung up on the notion that I have to do everything “right.” Perfectionism can be good, but it’s also what led me, all those years ago, to dispose of the journals I wish I could look back on. The Bullet Journal has a structural blueprint, but, beyond that, the possibilities are endless. Need a place to list the podcasts you want to listen to? Working on healthy eating and want to track your meals? Setting goals for what you will accomplish at work? The Bullet Journal can be a place for all of these things and more.

2. It revives the art of the doodle

While the original Bullet Journal looks pretty minimalist, there is no end to the artistry that fans are putting into these things (If you’re willing to risk falling down an Instagram rabbit hole, #bulletjournaljunkies is the thing to search). My calligraphy skills may be lacking, but I love embellishing pages with bubble letters—one carry-over from my middle school editions.

3. It has created a community of like-minded obsessors

Checked out that hashtag yet? Thanks to articles like the one I first discovered on Buzzfeed and the virtual show-and-tell of Instagram and Pinterest, Bullet Journaling has become a phenomenon. It’s reassuring to see that there are other hyper-organizers out there, and reminds me that my strength in Input is just that, a strength!

4. It helps me stay grounded(ish)

In a digital world that can inspire personal and professional FOMO, sitting down and putting events, goals, and thoughts on paper has become the highlight of my day. I’m inspired to make my days productive and proactive so that those goals can be accomplished.

If you like to have everything in writing, and crave order, reflection, and creativity as obsessively as I do, I’d highly recommend giving Bullet Journaling a try. Will I follow through with journaling more successfully than my deserted hobbies? Time will tell, but in the meantime, I’m just happy to make my life a little more Instagram-worthy. 

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