Every year, I make micro-resolutions, and this year was no different.
My micro-resolution for February was to keep a journal every day. I keep a journal, but I do not write in it consistently, and I wanted to change that in 2019.
Many of the creative journals I had seen online were very art-based, which, for sure, is great for creative types. However -- and you can ask my middle school art teacher -- that's not a route I should be going toward.
That's when I discovered bullet journaling. Bullet journaling is a method invented by Ryder Carroll. The idea behind it is you don't only chronicle what you do each day, but also plan for your future.
When I saw that artistic abilities were not required, I was drawn to it.
Carroll describes bullet journaling as "a mindfulness practice, disguised as a productivity system."
"It's a methodology ... to help us declutter our mind, organize our lives, become less distracted and get to know ourselves better," Carroll told "GMA." "The goal is to define what matters, and spend as much time and energy focusing on those things."
Carroll says a person about to adopt a bullet journaling should ask themselves what they want to get out of the process.
"What do you want more of?" Carroll asked. "What do you want less of? What worked? What didn't?"
"It helps us become better at regularly checking in with ourselves," he told "GMA." "The closer your practice aligns to your challenges and/or ambitions, the more impact it will have."
You can keep a bullet journal in almost any type of notebook as long as there's enough room to write in it. Personally, I preferred one with lines on the pages because I found it easier to organize.
How it works
Essentially, the planning system consists of categories such as an index, monthlies, dailies, collections and a future log.
Let's break down each of those outlined sections.
The index can be the first three or so pages of your notebook. Just label them as "index" at the top and keep them blank.
After those index pages is when the numbering of each page starts. This will help keep your bullet journal organized and will help you reference your notable moments.
The monthlies can be as far in advance as you want. Personally, I decided to stick to just planning out the upcoming month. So during the last week of the month, I would draw out the next month and start filling in the blanks. As events popped up, I added them to my monthly sketch.
The dailies part is exactly what it sounds like it is: You plan your every day. I kept bullet lists of things I needed to get accomplished every day. If there were things I needed to get done the next day, I put a separate list of those things at the end of my daily list and would physically copy those things over when I started the next day's list.
Collections are more of a catch-all. Have a goal for a few months from now, and you want to remember? Want to free-write about a person who upset you? Throw any or all of these things into the collections page. There isn't a hard and fast rule on what all can go in this area.
I didn't like the idea of these collections being interspersed between my monthlies and dailies, so I made it the last three pages of my journal so I could reference them easier. I also kept a paper clip on the first page of my collections pages so I could flip to it quickly. Carroll encourages each person trying the bullet journal method to adapt and adjust.
"I provide the foundation, but each bullet journalist is encouraged to make it their own," Carroll told "GMA." "This flexibility allows this toolkit to adapt and remain relevant over the long term."
The future log is where you can keep a list of upcoming appointments or dates you need to remember. To me, the weakness of a bullet journal was not having a prewritten calendar where I could put in that dental appointment I didn't want to forget. But the futures log area takes care of that.
I kept my futures log on the back of my monthly calendar. I also put a paper clip on that page so I could skip to it when I booked things.
As an extremely organized person, I thought bullet journaling would be as easy as pie. I love making lists, and I love crossing things off those lists even more.
However, for me, bullet journaling was a little difficult. I would start to list things in a stream-of-consciousness way on my dailies, and then it would dawn on me that I should probably put some of those things in different categories -- such as my futures log or my collections.
But then I realized it's OK if I don't put things in their perfectly designated place. The point is to keep track of your life and to plan for your future, and I was definitely doing that more. And Carroll emphasizes that point specifically.
"Each bullet journalist is encouraged to make it their own," Carroll told "GMA." "Figuring out what you need it to be, how it can best serve you, is an important part of the practice."
So not only did I accomplish my February micro-resolution -- I also learned a new, neat way to keep track of my life and be mindful of what I need to maintain my happiness.
Carroll shared some tips and tricks with "GMA" on how to be a successful bullet journalist:
- Start with your why, then focus on the how. Set an intention for your practice. Define what you want to get out of your Bullet Journal before you begin. There are countless ways to Bullet Journal, which you can find online. The closer your practice aligns to your challenges and/or ambitions, the more impact it will have.
- Don't compare yourself to others, only compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Many who are new can burn out by trying "to keep up with Joneses." The more you focus on what others do, the less your focusing on what you need. You don't need to be an artist, a perfectionist, or a minimalist. The only thing you need to be is you. The correct way to bullet journal is the one that consistently adds value to your life.
- Focus on better rather than perfect. Be patient with yourself and stay focused on the little wins. They add up quickly.
- Keep it simple and effective. The more effort something takes, the more likely it is to feel like a chore. The benefits should always outweigh the effort. Start with things you need, and build from there.