I am an adult with ADHD, a full-time scientist, and a mother to two wonderful kids (one of whom has ADHD, too). I’m always busy, to say the least, and constantly searching for creative ways to tackle life.
Personally, the stakes have never been higher than they are now in this global pandemic. Staying afloat and remaining in control have become my top priorities. Finally, after desperately searching for tools to help, I landed on bullet journaling — and I’m never looking back.
Bullet Journaling for ADHD: Why It Works
As I transitioned to working from home (like millions of others) at the start of the pandemic, I had trouble separating work from home and managing my stress. Some mornings, I would waste hours figuring out how to start the day. And even though I was working hard all day, I still felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything. In all, I was constantly overwhelmed, and had to find a way to clear my mind and stay productive.
Then I discovered the bullet journal — a organization method that involves a notebook, unique symbols, and many, many bullet points (or quick notes) that succinctly capture short- and long-term goals.
It’s now been two months since I started bullet journaling — by far the longest period I have managed to stick with any system. With what I’ve experienced so far, I believe that the bullet journal is made for non-linear, restless ADHD brains like mine. Why?
[Click to Read: 8 Paper Planners That Will Change Your Life]
1. Bullet Journaling Eliminates Noise
A lot of bullet journaling is dealing with the noise in your head by writing it all down. All the “I should do this” and “I need to make sure I remember that” thoughts take up energy and cause overwhelm, but writing them down helps to control the noise.
I recommend reading The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll, the creator of the system (who also happens to have ADHD!). Apart from common “bujo” (short for bullet journal) terminology, you’ll learn that the system is not only about planning your day, tracking tasks, or creating beautiful, artistic pages like you might see online. It is also about having a place you can go back to and reflect on what really happened instead of relying on your memories.
2. Bullet Journaling Launches You into “Productive-Mode”
If I’m struggling to transition into work mode, or feel like I have so much to do and don’t know where to start, the bullet journal helps me create a do-able plan that helps me achieve much more than I initially planned. Here are the steps I follow every day:
- Open my journal
- Write down the date
- Add an inspiration or intention for the day
- Review my weekly page to see tasks I may have missed along with upcoming tasks, and transfer them to today’s tasks (further designate any tasks as “must-do”)
- Look at my events calendar, and note important meetings on my daily spread
By the time I finished these steps, I have a clear picture of my day and priorities.
[Read This: Productivity Rules for ADHD Brains Stuck at Work]
3. Bullet Journaling is Unique to You — Which Makes It Fun
Part of the fun with bullet journaling is creating gorgeous, customized spreads across your book, and getting to use a variety of supplies to do so. Spending time decorating your bujo can also help you stick to it. For others, it’s a chance to be creative, in itself a relieving and calming activity.
I like to use colorful highlighters while I bullet journal. It makes the page look happy and “friendly” — putting me in a better mood about the day ahead. I also separate pages with a ruler; one side for my schedule, and the other for tasks.
4. Bullet Journaling Doesn’t Have to be Perfect
Bullet journaling isn’t solely about creating colorful pages and spreads, and it’s not necessarily about jotting every single task either. In fact, flexibility is the key to bullet journaling. Some of my pages look organized and nice, and some only have a few scribbled lines. Some days I write a full schedule, track every task, and remember to review at the end of the day. Some days I have the date and one task, no tracking.
The ultimate goal is to reduce overwhelm and keep track of what matters to you. Surely that is precious and valuable all on its own.
Bullet Journaling: Next Steps
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Updated on August 10, 2020