Search for ‘bullet journal’ on Pinterest or YouTube and you’ll uncover a world of planners, stationery and exquisitely designed journal spreads.
An army of journal planners – armed with stickers, washi tapes and stencils – are taking the world by storm. And, being a stationery queen, I was keen to be one of them.
I have started many a bullet journal, spending hours drawing out my ‘future log’ and monthly spreads. But, usually about three weeks in, I realise I haven’t looked at it for a few days. The fun was in the design, and once that was done I was bored with it. (Or I accidentally used the wrong colour somewhere and deemed that enough to have ruined my whole project…)
The man behind the bullet journal phenomenon, Ryder Carroll, has released ‘The Bullet Journal Method‘ and it popped up in the ‘recommended for you’ section of my Amazon account (possibly because of the volume of gridded notebooks I have ordered, started and abandoned over the years).
The book takes you through the basics of bullet journalling and looks at how organisational theories play into this method. I was hooked, and devoured the book in little more than 24 hours.
I am going to give bullet journaling another go in February, but this book has already taught me a lot – including these three ways the system can help you grow your business.
Create head space with a mental inventory
Does your brain ricochet between a thousand to-dos? Your strategic business plans, your personal goals, the birthday card you need to pick up, that thing you keep forgetting at the supermarket, the book idea you want to develop?
Before you even open your new bullet journal, the first thing to do is a task inventory. Write down every single to-do you are holding in your head or on scattered notes, then take a look at the list. What can you scratch off just by deciding that the reason it has been on your list for so long is because you don’t really want or need to do it? What can you park because you don’t need to take any action yet?
As a business owner you have a million things to think about and this is a great way of capturing everything in one place. Then you can take a critical look at what to work on next based on its urgency or importance rather than what has surfaced to the top of your mental list.
Be realistic about what you can achieve in a day, week and month
The book suggests we massively underestimate what we can achieve in a year, but massively overestimate what we can do in a day.
How many times have you decided you can tick off several big tasks in a day, only to feel like a failure because you didn’t get to the middle of the list let alone the end of it?
The bullet journal method gives you a framework to plan your day, migrate things to another day, or reschedule work that doesn’t need doing yet.
So what does this mean for growing your business? Firstly, be realistic about how much time you have. On your daily planner, block out the time that is accounted for – your commute, appointments, gym or exercise class, the weekly shop, cooking…you get the idea. Now look at how much time you have left and match it to the tasks you have to do. For example, if you have a couple of hours you could do a good chunk of audience research but if you only have an hour, researching a blog post may be more realistic.
Set fewer goals
We are conditioned to hustle and drive towards goals across all areas of our lives. We might set a personal goal to get in shape at the same time as professional goals to increase our mailing list, blog three times a week, write a book, pitch for work, and start that podcast we’ve been thinking about. All at the same time!
Ryder Carroll suggests we list the goals we want to achieve in five years, one year, one month and one week and then whittle down each list to one thing. Work towards that, and only that, until it is achieved. Give these goals your all, and add more only when they have been achieved (or until they are deliberately replaced).
Giving your all to a smaller set of goals can be a great way to grow your business sustainably. For example, you might decide to focus on growing your mailing list through consistent blogging – so do that before your throw yourself into podcasting. And when you’re ready to give podcasting your all, do it and know that your book idea will get all your time and attention next.
I am going to start my bullet journal this week, as a new month starts. I’m excited to use it as a way to keep myself focused, knowing that everything I need to do is noted and scheduled. (And this time I’ll worry less about how pretty the pages look.) At the end of February I’ll let you know how I get on with my first month, and share the ideas and tips I develop.
I’d love your bullet journal tips and tricks – how do you use it to help you in your life and your business? Drop me a comment below!