I’ve posted here about Bullet Journaling and how I use it several times since 2013. Last night I met Ryder Carroll, the author of the system, at my local library. He’s written a book about it and is touring to promote it.
Yes, he signed my Bullet Journal.
Since he first shared his method for tracking tasks and events in 2013, Carroll has evolved his own use of it to focus as much on the “why?” as on the “what?” He has listened to communities of BuJo users, and their questions have grown less technical and more philosophical, less “How do I migrate tasks from my monthly log to my daily log?” and more “How do I set a meaningful goal?” The book–and his talk last night–is his attempt to offer guidance about pursuing meaningful activities and not just about keeping track of to do lists.
My Bullet Journals are filled with logs and collections of things I have to do. There is precious little in them about things I want to do. Lucky for me, many of the things I have to do I also want to do, but they are clearly responsibilities, and the overwhelming majority of them are professional.
- Write the weekly newsletter
- Work on next week’s sermon
- Write Confirmation curriculum for dates X and Y
- Draft agenda for next week’s meeting
- Get Meredith’s Christmas gifts
These lists delight me, especially when they are filled with X’s signifying completed tasks. Identifying responsibilities and fulfilling them is my life. Listening for desires and pursuing them? Not so much. For five years now, Bullet Journaling has helped me keep track of the various things I’m working on, so that more of them get done and less of them overwhelm me. I am more organized, less stressed, and much more tolerable to be around and work with as a result. I am starting to wonder, though, if this setting up and knocking down of tasks is all there is.
I don’t mind it most days, honestly. It energizes me to organize projects and their related responsibilities. I get a boost from getting things done. But Carroll is suggesting that you maybe don’t want to look back on your life at some point and see only completed tasks; you also want to see thoughts, interests, pursuits, wins, and failures. There’s very little of that kind of thing in my Bullet Journals.