In my last post, I answered what I considered to be the Top 10 myths and questions regarding bullet journaling, as evidenced by the numerous posts on the topics across various social media groups. I did, however, leave out what is perhaps the biggest statement that we see several times a day, and that is: I want to start bullet journaling but I don’t have the time. On a similar note, it’s not uncommon to see someone post something like, I just don’t have the time to keep up with my bullet journaling!
Invariably, this all comes down to how we prioritize our time and what we expect from a bullet journal. So let’s begin with our expectations of a bullet journal. In it’s purest form, Ryder Carroll developed the system to be a time *saver*. Rapid logging and migration was never meant to take hours. Rather, it was meant to be exactly as it’s name implies: Rapid. Of course, as we all know, that system gained traction and speed and grew into something Ryder certainly never expected, which is a nearly cult-like movement in journaling. With it’s growth came change, and the system quickly evolved into artistic and instagrammable planning loosely based on rapid logging.
It seems, however, that this evolution is creating more stress for many, stress which the system was designed to alleviate. So when you find yourself overwhelmed and out of time for your bullet journal, try asking yourself why you’re really using it. Are you using it to be part of that movement? As an art journal? As social media fodder to promote your pages? Or are you using it as it was intended – to help you better manage and organize your time?
From my personal perspective, it *can* be time consuming. The longer I use this system, the more I incorporate, and my daily spreads have gone from fairly basic, half-page affairs at their longest, to full page spreads today. On top of that, I incorporate my spiritual practice and small creative elements into each journal. It’s actually these things that keep me coming back day after day, a habit I’d never been able to establish with a traditional planner. I love that each page holds new possibilities as a blank canvas! It’s also a creative outlet when I really don’t have time left in the day to create prose, poetry, or art.
But ultimately, what really keeps me going is that it contains the things that I consider to be the most important elements of my life it’s pages – my schedule, my tasks, my notes, my guides…everything! Therefore, it has become my number one priority each night, with little exception. If I do skip a night because I’m just too tired, or the Fibro has me down, or I went out instead of staying in and didn’t get home until late, my first task the next morning after completing my morning routine, is to catch up and set up my day.
And therein lies the rub for many. Bullet journaling, like anything else we choose to do to better ourselves, is all about priorities and time management. I’ve also talked here in the past about making small but meaningful changes in your life, and shared what worked for me. One of the things that I had to decide when embarking on that journey was how to incorporate a morning routine into each day when I already get up so early. In the end, I decided that sacrificing an extra half-hour of sleep was worth it to be able to greet my day fresh from meditation and spiritual exercises that clear my head and help me focus. In other words, that extra half-hour of sleep became a lower priority.
After I did that though, I found that I was more tired in the evening than usual. Rather than trying to cram everything and then some into a post-work afternoon/evening, I then decided that I needed to re-evaluate how I spent my time. So I had a good, long look at what I was doing – and shifted some things around so that I could still be productive after work, do the things that I love to do and are good for me, and get to bed earlier each night. In the end, it meant less time wasted online and in playing nonsense games on my phone more than any measurable time taken from the household, my relationship, or myself.
I won’t pretend that it’s easy to break certain habits or decide that you can forego the extra half hour of sleep, or of time spent getting ready for your day. It’s not. At least, it’s not until you’ve made it a real habit and can see the results – more time doing what you want to do, love to do, or need to do (hopefully all three!).
If, however, you find that you’re unwilling or unable to shift priorities, to make more time for your bullet journal (or anything else you want to cultivate for that matter); or you’re unwilling to go back to the very basics of the bullet journal system, then it may just be that it’s not the right system for you – and that’s OK! There are plenty of pre-done planners that offer flexibility and room for creativity, as well as loads of printables and pages you can purchase online to make your planner a happy place to visit each day! But ask yourself – what is really important? What are the things you really, really want to do but never seem to have the time for – and what is it that’s taking your time and shifting those important things to a lower priority? You may be surprised at what you find if you’re honest with yourself.
Have you thought about how you prioritize your time? What should you be doing that you don’t seem to have the time for – and what can you do to change that? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!