Those who know me can confirm that I can’t function without my notebooks. At the moment I own three: a work journal, a personal diary, and a blog/programming notebook. I’ll talk about them in separate posts but my point is that I’m definitely a stationery geek. I love all the digital tools (Keep, Trello, my Water Time app) but I still need my calendars, to-do lists, Tombow brush pens and Zebra midliners. So when I learned about bullet journalling I knew this is something I need to try.
The numbers behind this stationery phenomenon are impressive: the Bullet Journal Junkies group on Facebook has already reached over 58 000 members. For comparison, the Getting Things Done system has been around for 15 long years now and its official Facebook group has accrued over 69 000 proud fans. I think that most of you already know what a BuJo is, but for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s an amazingly simple yet methodical journalling system, especially appealing to creative types. It allows you to transform a humble notebook (or, in it’s less budget-friendly version, a Leuchtturm1917 or a dotted Moleskine) into a customized productivity tool.
The impact of the original system
It all started as a fun pet project a few years ago. A man struggled with his own organization problems, came up with a creative solution and developed a simple system that allowed him to be on top of things, then shared the idea with a friend in need. The man’s name was Ryder Carrol and his method became known as the Bullet Journal. I mean, seriously, how soothing this minimal layout is:
So, I’d say it’s good enough as it is. If you need additional inspiration, you can watch the easy-to-follow YouTube tutorials, study the official website and read the blog. However, the encouraging adaptability of Carrol’s paper log system must have produced a sudden spike of interest in journalling in general, because if you perform a Google image search on “bullet journal”, the spreads look nothing like the original idea.
The Creative Superstars and the ordinary folks
The BuJos I see on Pinterest are usually extremely elaborate, spreads decorated with calligraphy, drawings, bright washi tape, stickers and doodles. And hey, it’s definitely a great thing (office supplies companies must be on cloud nine). I’ll support anything that boosts your creativity and allows you to organize your life in a better way. It’s enjoyable, relaxing, it encourages mindfulness. The talented bunch of people blogging and instagramming about bullet journalling includes a variety of artists, from my absolute favourite, minimalist Ursala @honeyrozes, to the amazing Heidi @thebulletjournaladdict, web famous Kara from Boho Berry or creative Natasha and her colorful illustrations on howtobulletjournal.com. The beauty of some of those journals is overwhelming. But then I attempt to create (and photograph) my own spreads… and, well, this is what I get:
My monthly spread
My weekly spreads
And you know what? I’m totally ok with that. Seriously, try reading this very honest post by Shelby’s dyslexic husband and then tell me you lack the skills to try journalling.
It’s for everyone.
You don’t have to have exquisite handwriting, decorate your spreads with baroque ornaments and / or yards of washi tape. Lose sleep over a messed-up layout. If the journal stresses you out, you’re doing it wrong. Try out new things. Modify those that don’t work. Get inspired. Show it to others. Or don’t. Remember: it’s yours to wreck. In case you need some additional guidence, read this lovely post, but you totally don’t have to. Perhaps this generally inspiring flexibility of the system is where the BuJo’s charm lies. But if you ask me, I’ll tell you it’s the community. People in my Facebook group ask questions about spreads and pens, sure, but they also share moving personal stories, good and bad news, seek advice on how to include a new birth or the passing of a loved one in their journal. We inspire each other and we become vulnerable together. I guess my search for productivity helped me find my tribe.