Bullet journals: How to organize your stress (A MAG)


bullet journal

Morgan Smith

Have you been struggling to get more organized in your life but aren’t sure where to start? Bullet journaling could be the answer. 

Created by Ryder Carroll in 2013, a digital product designer and author in New York, the bullet journal is not your basic planner. According to the bullet journal’s officialsite, “The goal of the bullet journal is to help its practitioners live intentional lives; ones that are both productive and meaningful.”

In hisTedX talk, ‘How to declutter your mind – keep a journal,’ Carroll explained how his idea for the bullet journal arose from his diagnosis with Attention Deficit Disorder.

Carroll found that his problem was not that he couldn’t focus on anything, but rather that he was becoming overwhelmed from trying to focus on everything at once.

Although I don’t have ADD, I find this to be true of myself and many others. Carroll seemingly made this connection as well, as he explains in hisTedX talk how everyone’s “busyness” in their lives is often just overwhelming thoughts and feelings.

“We are always ‘busy,’ but being busy doesn’t mean you are being productive,” he said. “A lot of times, being busy means you are…overwhelmed. A lot of this is due to the overwhelming amount of choices we have to make in modern-day life.”

Carroll went on to describe his idea of decision fatigue, which he explains is people’s lowering desire and refusal to make decisions due to the large number of decisions that are made in their day-to-day lives.

Carroll went on to explain that this continued decision fatigue can become detrimental to our mental health.

In his TedX talk, Carroll compared this decision fatigue to a cluttered pantry. 

“Without dealing with these thoughts, we just stuff them in the back of our mental pantry until we have no more room left to think clearly,” he said. “That can cause an incredible amount of stress and anxiety. We need room to think and to focus.”

Carroll explained the bullet journal is a way to reduce decision fatigue and clean out the ‘pantry’ of our minds. According to Carroll, the bullet journal accomplishes this because it forces people to externalize their thoughts on paper, which takes ‘food out of the pantry,’ or declutters our minds.

“Holding thoughts in your mind is like trying to grasp water,” he said. “It’s nearly impossible. But by writing down our thoughts, we can capture them clearly so we can work on them later.”

The bullet journal is a great tool people can use to help decide what deserves their focus in life. Carroll explained this focus uses both our energy and our time, which are invaluable to us as people.

Carroll also stressed the importance of keeping up with your journal, saying that the daily commitment will make a big difference in people’s lives. 

“It will help you go from leading that busy life, to leading an intentional life,” he said. “Rid yourself of the things that don’t matter, so you have the time and energy to focus on the things that do.”

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