The bullet journal craze for productivity and creativity

The bullet journal craze hit my radar with a bang a few weeks ago. Everyone who knows a bit about me, as well as many of my acquaintances, know I’ve always been a lists person.

I wrote about the value of lists in this blog, Lists can increase creativity.  I’m surprised I haven’t written more about them. They’re part of my life and I make lists for everything. I can’t remember when I started the habit, but I suspect a very long time ago.

My father liked lists, too. He always carried a piece of cardboard with a list in his pocket. Not any scrap of paper, but precision-cut piece of white board, always the same size. He was a cardboard-box-maker, like his father before him and his son (my brother Peter Stone) after him and cardboard was part of our lives.

Peter doesn’t make many boxes these days, but he does amazing printing. Using the latest digital and wide-frame technology, he prints everything you can imagine, including books, banners, signs, wallpaper…You can check out his website for inspiration at The Big Picture Factory.

Peter keeps me well supplied with cards, just like our Dad’s. I use them for notes for essays and books, shopping lists, PhD thesis ideas, to-do reminders, notes and references. A shoe-box full of unused cards, neatly packed, sits next to my desk.

On the bookcase behind me I keep notebooks with lists of books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen.

There’s a book with goals for each year since 1999 and how well those goals were achieved; and one with birthdays, addresses etc. Every week I make a list for what I plan to do, and as well as that I keep a diary. Paper and pens satisfy some deep need for me, one that no amount of technology can.

A bullet journal provides a place to keep all one’s lists including to-do-lists together in one place. They form a super-organisational tool. Amanda Kendle, the amazing facilitator of our Mastermind Blogging Group, brought hers to one of our meetings.

It seemed simple, do-able and interesting. Amanda told us a little about the process of setting up a bujo as they are sometimes called. Once I’d decided to try it, as an experiment, I told myself, I read a bit more about the idea.

The internet is replete with articles and blogs about bullet journals, as well as advertisements for books about them and plugs for commercially developed bujos.

Those on Pinterest, and there are hundreds, range from beautiful through funky to mundane. Some of us are very late on this bandwagon!

Art and singing are not my strengths, or so the teachers at school convinced me all those years ago. I’ve never had any reason to doubt them. Other people can create art anywhere. Susan Dunn, my friend and colleague from the Almost Famous Blogging Mastermind Group, is one of those. You can read her article about her new bullet journal at 9 reasons I decided to use Bullet Journaling.

I like to learn through doing. I decided my first bullet journal would be mundane, prosaic, not at all pretty or flamboyant. That way I could work out what I want and need,  which means I can always improve. Maybe one day I’ll try and make one that is artistic as well as useful.

In an ordinary exercise book, my embryonic bujo looks neat (so far) and the lists display the pretty colours of a handful of gel pens. They’re ideal because the ink doesn’t bleed through the paper, always a good thing in a notebook.

My journal doesn’t follow any rules. It grows organically as it needs to encompass different ideas that spring to mind. Already some things need to change in the next version which is how it should be with any creative endeavour. As Susan says, a bullet journal should be fun.

Whether it actually improves productivity will be seen in the future.

I’d love to read your ideas about lists and bullet journals. If you’ve tried one, please add to the conversation in the comments below.

10 replies on “The bullet journal craze for productivity and creativity”

  1. I look forward to seeing your bullet journal/bujo. A new Maureen surfacing? Love the thought

    1. Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth. I don’t think a new Maureen, but perhaps I’ll procrastinate a bit less.

      1. I kept lists for years. One day I was speaking to my doctor and mentioned I was tired. She asked about my lists. Maybe I was a bit OCD. When she say it she asked how I felt when I did not complete the list. I told her I was disappointed in myself, like I failed. She told me no wonder I was tired because I was tired. (I had three part time jobs at the time as wells raising my children and a couple of homeless kids). I was told to cut the list in half and later to cut it out. I now keep a diary with daily things to do. I seem to have a lot of post-it notes with ideas on them as well. I think having it all in one book would be good. Anyone have any ideas on how to overcome this notion of perfection? Maureen Helen you could look into the down side of lists.

        1. Miriam, that is so interesting about your experience with lists. I wonder if it is about how important the items on it were to you, and if you were over extending yourself generally, rather than the lists themselves. That may have been where the need to be perfect came from. I might just take you up on your challenge to look at the down-side of lists and list-making.

    1. Thanks, Amanda. I’m impressed with your journal, and would probably benefit from looking at it again sometime. I think I got the basics, but not the finer details. Then I needed to add all sorts of other things, so the index is a total mess and I’ve added a few tags down the sides.

      As I said in the blog, though, this is an experiment!

  2. I make a shopping list in Notes in my phone. Delete the items as I put them in the trolley. Anything else I need to make a list of goes in notes. Very quick and easy.
    Delete when completed. End of story.
    Maureen how do you find time to make all these lists???

    1. You are so clever with your phone, Elizabeth. I wish I could remember where mine is, most of the time, as you know. I keep telling myself all my clothes must have pockets for my phone, but I seem to forget to check. I’ve seen how you keep notes on yours, and if it worked for me, I’d do that instead of a bullet (or any other) journal.

      You always used to keep notes in a notebook that you kept in your bag. I remember going places with you, and you’d be the organised one, with dates and places and costs and what to pack all tidily together. I was not that organised.

  3. Thank you, Maureen for mentioning my bullet journalling and my blog. ❤
    I thoroughly enjoy our mutually supportive group and the friendships that have arisen through Amanda’s Mastermind classes.
    I love that you shared about your family tradition of keeping lists and using card. It reminds me of how we recycled scraps of paper and cards when I was a child!
    I’m enjoying my journal. It is definitely a work in progress.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Susan. It was a pleasure to link to your blog about bullet journalling, and I think it added a lot to my own post because our approaches are different, which is one of the beauties of bujos. I think I am very lucky to be part of the Mastermind class with such dynamic, interesting and friendly women.

      I’m not sure how I feel about the bullet journal, although it is a very different way to keep organised with everything in one place. Glad you are enjoying yours.

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