Spiraling out of control? Open up the Bullet Journal again

Believe it or not, I've thought of something new to say about Bullet Journalling. I won't dive into the mechanics of what and how, because I've written about Bullet Journalling before (several times, in fact). If you're unfamiliar with the concept of Bullet Journalling, those posts are better places to start.

What I've noticed lately is the pattern behind my Bullet Journal usage. I've picked up the journalling habit several times now, and dropped it just as many times too.

My journal was a constant presence when I was freelancing, but it fell by the wayside when I became an employee at a company. I picked it up again when I needed to find a new job, and it was a massively useful tool in that process. But once gainfully employed again, the journal soon began to gather dust. And when a company I was working at shut down suddenly, out came the journal again and the same pattern repeated.

I've started using my Bullet Journal again recently, too. But this time I'm not in need of a new job, and I'm not freelancing. This time the entire world is on fire and falling apart around us[1]. And that's the pattern; when things feel like they're slipping beyond my control, Bullet Journalling helps me stay on course and stay (or get back to being) productive.

What I didn't realise before is that journalling is a transactional process for me. It's not the life-long everyday habit that I first thought it would be. It's a useful mechanism to help deal with times of crisis. Pick it up, reap the benefits for a few weeks, and then discard it again.

When I do maintain a Bullet Journal, I'm pretty thorough and update it every morning. But I'm still using the first notebook I bought for the job (from a pack of three I picked up in 2013!). Flicking through the pages, I can see a written record of all my periods of uncertainty, transition, and crisis[2].

I'm not saying that everyone should take up journalling when their lives start slipping, but this is certainly an effective coping mechanism for me. And being aware of journaling's function in my life is only going to make the tool more useful. I'll no longer feel guilty when I inevitably stop maintaining the journal - it's not a chore that "must be done", its a tool that has done its job. And maybe I'll adopt the journaling habit sooner next time; maybe get things back on-track before things bubble over into a productivity crisis.


  1. I'm hoping some of you are reading this from a time that's not gripped by a global pandemic. Sic transit gloria and all that. ↩︎

  2. Made much easier by the fact that I'm maintaining a detailed "contents" page, like the nerd that I am. ↩︎



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