I am asked a lot about this subject, particularly at the moment given we are all in Corona-lockdown and cannot escape our screens. If you are not clear on what bullet journaling actually is, check out our description.
There are numerous mental health benefits to bullet journaling:
- Establish order in your life
This is an obvious one and you do not need a bullet journal to organise your life but they are an effective way of providing you with some structure and a way to plan.
The key point is that with a bullet journal you can ensure that the information you need to organise your life is all in one place. This means it is more likely to be effective and helps you to prioritise and remove the jobs from your life that you do not need to do. Gone are the days of the endless bits of paper and post-it notes as well as notes on your phone and computer and tagged emails.
- The simplicity of the system
And all you need is a notebook and a pen!
I say it again: one book and a pen. You may choose to razz it up with other pens and tapes but the system itself does not need those. You will probably still need your emails and phone but keeping track of what you have to do, and your goals for the future, are all in the one book. How refreshing and calming is that?
- Be more self-aware and focus on what matters
A bullet journal is not just a book for a series of to-do lists. You are not just planning your jobs for the next few days or creating a to-do list which you constantly re-write and never get to the end of.
Sure, we all need to write to-do lists and be organised but the simple act of pausing to write down the important minutiae of one’s life goes far beyond simple organisation. The bullet journal will help you live an intentional life – a life that is both productive and purposeful. The bujo is not designed to help you spin faster on the hamster wheel. If the journey is the destination, then we must learn how to become better travellers.
We are all recipients of a flood of information, we are over-stimulated and not sufficiently rested and have countless distractions. A buju allows you to plan at a high level so you can keep sight of the bigger picture, as well as keep track of today and tomorrow. This enables you to prioritise. You can focus on what matters and also see what you do not have time for. It is not all to-do lists but dreams and goals: champion your intentions!
Setting goals gives your life purpose and you can include a specific goals page in your bullet journal or just write them down on your monthly planner.
- Writing is good for you
There is much evidence of it being easier to remember things which you have written down rather than typed out. Many people say they find it easier to process information when they write it down.
There is also a simplicity to a simple notebook and its endless blank pages. Every day you can start again, you can see what you are doing, and what you want to be doing, and make conscious decisions. It puts you in the present.
Go one step further and draw and doodle or make your bullet journal beautiful. I am pretty hopeless at art but I try my best to make my pages look good and I spend a great deal of time doodling (rather badly) when I am working and it helps me to process information.
Making your journal beautiful is soothing, even if what you desire is a very simple aesthetic.
- Less screen-time
Computers and phones are useful and fun but sometimes we need some time off from screens. It hardly needs to be said that a break from technology is beneficial for us all. People who spend too much time on computers can suffer from back problems, head-aches, weight gain, sleep problems, carpal tunnel syndrome and vision problems.
There is a theory that technology is making us less productive because of information-overload and digital distractions.
A bullet journal is not going to resolve your technology issues but becoming reliant on another medium could reduce your exposure to technology and many bujo users are fans because of the break from screens that a bujo provides.
- Track what matters
Monitor and track what matters to you. You can create exercise trackers, sleep trackers, mood trackers, prepare a spread for your goals and you can track challenges. I have even seen a cleaning tracker and a symptoms tracker (for Corona). Personally, not so sure about those but each to their own!
Journaling has been proven to be a powerful therapeutic tool in treating people who suffer from trauma or mental illness. Writing about our experiences can help to process what has happened and move forwards.
I have read first-hand accounts of how bullet journaling has dramatically helped people’s mental health. In particular, people tend to find that mood trackers can be extremely useful in giving them a more accurate picture of how they are feeling.
People also tell me they find it helpful to structure their bullet journal in a way that supports their mental health; in particular, some say they find weekly spreads more useful than daily spreads because they are not constantly getting to the end of the day and writing a to-do list for the next day with various of the same tasks – something that can provoke feelings of failure as well as feeling like a monumental waste of time. It was certainly a revelation for me to move onto weekly planners and I now use a weekly spread most of the time over a daily one.
Please do let us know if you have any thoughts on how bullet journaling has helped you!
 Ryder Carroll, the Bullet Journal Method.