CAN A JOURNAL HELP? WHY? MUST IT BE A BULLET JOURNAL? The BuJo (Bullet Journal) craze has made it seem that traditional to-do list pads and ruler-lined pages in a student notebook are not great at helping us organize our lives. Well at least they are not as likely to motivate and inspire as the use of the dot-grid page-filled journal made famous by the popular doodling activity. BuJo has been promoted by creator Ryder Carroll as “the Analog System for the Digital Age.”
Jessica Stillman, who writes about witnessing the birth of the BuJo movement in a July 2017 article for Inc.com, sought to answer for readers whether it worked as advertised by organization and self-help gurus to improve productivity. First, she briefly defines the activity. Then she references an article in The Guardian which outlines in greater detail the scientific reasons why bullet journaling may or may not be beneficial to health and everyday life.
In a nutshell, Stillman explains that BuJo challenges practitioners to create a year-long, indexed and cross-referenced system of lists and notes, which can cover anything from “reading lists to life goals”. Tasks, jotted down daily or monthly, can be scheduled, checked off when completed, or relocated to other sections of the journal. Hand drawn symbols, pictures, and doodles illustrate and “add extra meaning to thoughts or events”.
The official BulletJournal.com website seems to see its system as a creator of community, a way of life. BuJo does not appear to be merely selling a notebook with dotted pages; it’s promoting a method of organization, inspiration, mindfulness, and connectedness. Before purchasing journaling materials, consider learning a bit about the system. It might influence your choices. The difficulty is that there is SO MUCH written about it that there’s the risk of getting lost in the jargon forest of the enthusiasts.
These two articles have the specific purpose of presenting information that explains WHY keeping a journal in general might be life-changing, as advocates claim.
The gist of the scientific evidence discussed in the mostly positive Stillman BuJo article is that
1) merely unloading thoughts onto a journal page can be a healthy mental health exercise;
2) writing to-do lists can help keep uncompleted tasks from intruding into thoughts; and
3) doodling may free the imagination and assist with generating “productive periods of activity” and creativity.
The Guardian article, written by Nicola Davis a bit earlier in 2017, is more skeptical that the practice will benefit everyone who tries it. But she offers a much more exhaustive examination of the trend’s origins and growth, and what it has to offer those who adopt the list-making system.
Both articles conclude that not everyone will be organizationally fulfilled by bullet journaling. But if runners and other athletes are willing to attempt much more disruptive and potentially dangerous practices to improve performance, like living at high altitude (legal) or blood doping (illegal), BuJo-ing seems comparatively tame and low-risk. The expense of a journal and colored writing instruments, plus the time to doodle, would be on the line.
I’m not sure a journal is needed for organizing all of my life, but perhaps it will be amazing at motivating and keeping track of fitness-related activities. The dot-grid products are a somewhat expensive, about $25. Earned Runs has found a plain, $12-16, line-ruled notebook that might also be up to the task.
The DesignWorks Ink, Standard Issue No. 12, Split Twin-Wire Bound Personal Notebook is stripped down and all business. I like the way each of the 92 pages might be utilized as a calendar/diary, with the months and dates printed in the top header. It measures 6 x 8.25 inches, large enough to hold Earned Runs bibs between its covers. It has a “bullet template” page finder. The spiral binding allows flipping the pages so that each can lay flat and be exposed to full view every day. I had a weather record calendar like this for years and found it easy to use.
There is a little more research needed on my part to select other products to trial this year. I made a New Year’s resolution to organize my fitness work that is convenient for travel.
What are your suggestions and experiences? Are you game? Or, been-there-done-that-over it?
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NOTE TO MEN: MindJournals.com aims its recommendation for journaling at MEN who might think these activities are less-than manly. It website banner reads: "Become a Stronger Version of the Man You Already Are". https://www.mindjournals.com
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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