Modern life can be a whirlwind with so many different demands on our time and attention. The pressure to keep on top of all these demands can be stressful but there are ways to help tame the chaos and give an outlet to your creative side at the same time.
Originally devised by New York designer Ryder Carroll, bullet journals are one such way to tame the chaos of life and improve your personal productivity. Ryder describes bullet journals as a way “to help you track the past, organise the present, and plan for the future” and can take many forms. You can use them to track tasks you need to complete each day, week or month and plot out your progress each day to encourage mindful reflection and gratitude for all you’ve achieved and experienced. Watch the video below for Ryder’s quick introduction to how bullet journals work.
“I keep lots of different types of journals, all of which bring something different to my life,” explains Simply Lettering’s journaling expert, Helen Colebrook. “My bullet journal is the notebook that keeps me on track every day. I plan out all of my tasks, projects and goals to make sure that my somewhat chaotic life is moving in the right direction.”
Bullet journals can be as functional or as beautiful as you want to make them, and needn’t be as stark and simple as the example Ryder Carroll explains above. “With all of my journals,” explains Helen Colebrook, “I love to add some creative elements and hand lettering. Whilst a bullet journal is designed to be a productivity tool, the freedom to add some creativity and design to my layouts is what keeps me using this journal every day.”
The planning aspect of bullet journals can help you feel more in control of life and take more conscious direction over the choices you make and how you spend your time.
“Not only is a bullet journal fun to keep, it gives you the wonderful peace of mind that comes from knowing all of your commitments and tasks are noted down,” explains Helen. “I’ve been keeping a bullet journal for over three years now and it’s changed the whole way I plan and organise my life. Everything that needs doing, along with my biggest hopes and dreams, are all documented in one place. Rather than just focusing on what I have to get done, I make sure I give equal priority to the things I really want to achieve for myself.
Each month on her Journal With Purpose YouTube channel, Helen shares her monthly planner setup, explaining how she goes about setting up her own bullet journal and giving it that extra special creative touch. Here’s how she set up her journal for August:
Bullet journals are about more than just planning ahead. It can also be heart-warming and encouraging to look back over your previous journal pages and truly appreciate all you’ve been through and all you’ve achieved.
“I always find it surprising how many of the little details I have already forgotten when I flip back through my journal pages,” reflects Helen. “It’s the little things that make life so enjoyable and yet it’s easy to just let them pass us by without really noticing them. My daily journal makes sure that I capture at least a few moments of my day to enjoy again at a later date. I record all manner of things, including funny conversations, tasty meals, books I’m reading or great coffee shops we have found. It’s also a wonderful place to stick in photos, tickets or pretty packaging.”
Forge your own path
There’s no right or wrong way to journal and it’s good to try out different options and find the system that works for you. It’s not about creating the most beautiful spread or the one that will pick up the most Instagram likes – it’s about helping you take better control of your life.
In each issue of Simply Lettering, we’ll explore different tools, approaches and layouts for you to try and get creative with. In issue 1, Helen Colebrook shares advice on how to set up a new month, including a simple habit tracker and gratitude log. Annie Weir from A Journal By Annie shares her love of doodling and explores how to create beautifully minimal layouts.
Join us every issue for more tips and ideas to help you develop your journaling and find mindful new ways to tame the chaos of life.