I just finished reading The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll and must say that I am feeling inspired and optimistic. I have been using bullet journaling for my daily planning for the past few months and have really been enjoying it. It lets me do something I would normally do (plan my days) while using a fountain pen and notebook! Still, I felt like it could be a bit more useful and that I wasn’t getting everything that I could out of it. At the suggestion of a few different people, I read this book. You should watch this short video if you need an idea of what bullet journaling is.I went in expecting it to be a type of manual for everything you could do with a bullet journal, full of different types of bullets, collections, lists and trackers. I did not expect it to be an inspirational, self-help book. It turns out, it was both. While it took me a bit to wrap my head around what I was reading (not because it was a difficult read, but because it was not what I was expecting), once I did I really enjoyed it.
The Book Layout
This book is organized into four different parts: The Preparation, The System, The Practice and The Art. Each is unique and serves a specific purpose.
“It’s part organization, part soul-searching, part dream-weaving.”
The Preparation is a general introduction of how the system came to be, what makes it so flexible and useful and what you’ll need to do to get started in the world of bullet journaling. To be honest, I skimmed this part and don’t really remember much from it other than the author’s story of how and why he started this system.
The System is a great introduction to bullet journaling for anyone who is unfamiliar with the terminology and how it works. I had been using it for myself for a few months when I read this, so there wasn’t much new info here, but I did pick up a few useful bits of information that I plan to use in the future. Unless you have a very established system that works for you, I’d recommend you read this section, even if you just skim it.
The Practice is a cross between a self-improvement book and bullet journal ideas. It is broken down into sections such as Goals, Control, Radiance, Inertia, etc… Each section has two parts. The first part is a discussion about why something is important to your life. For example, the Goals section starts out talking about setting goals with intention in order to provide structure, direction, focus and purpose. So, instead of saying “I want to lose weight”, you might say “I want to eat better so I can lose 5 lbs and fit into my favorite pair of jeans again.” The second part of each section (called “In Practice”) has an idea for a collection you can create in your bullet journal. Even though I won’t use many of them, I found these parts of each section very inspiring because they helped me realize that my bullet journal could be way more than just a daily planning tool.
The Art discusses how to not get caught up in spending all of your time designing and decorating your bullet journal and instead using it to document and improve your life. Personally, this was one of the main hesitations I felt when initially researching bullet journaling. I saw so many beautiful pages and layouts that I knew I had no skill or desire to create. While I learned that it wasn’t necessary, this section reinforced the concept of making a tool that is useful for yourself and not worrying about how it looks, as long as it is functional. The author also gives some tips for making it more visually appealing while retaining the functionality.
A few different people had recommended this book to me when I asked them about their experiences with bullet journaling. I just couldn’t see how such a seemingly simple system could need an entire book. Furthermore, I was very skeptical that it could be an interesting read. The system itself only occupies a very small part of the book and reads pretty much like you’d expect it to. The rest of the book consists of inspiring quotes, thought exercises and ways you can use your bullet journal to improve and record your life. Once I got into the book and realized what it was, I looked forward to reading it every day.
If you just want to learn the basics of bullet journaling, you can save yourself a lot of time and watch the 5-minute tutorial on bulletjournal.com. This is how I started long before reading the book and it served me well. If you want to learn the basics but also pick up some great tips and tricks with a healthy dose of self-help and inspiration, you should definitely read this book. I don’t think reading it was a waste of time and know that it has already provided some positive changes in my bullet journal and, hopefully, in my life.
I checked out my copy from the library, but it’s a very popular book and I was on the wait list for about 2 months. If you don’t want to wait, you can find this book on Amazon or at bulletjournal.com. I can honestly see myself purchasing a copy just for future reference.