My apologies for long months of silence – they haven’t been quiet and I thank you if you’re still there reading me.
Life has been both busy and fun as we followed The 10 Year Old into Year 6 in September, with all the associated senior school exam preparation and interview pressures that brought with it. I hope Mr Em’s Life and I are managing to bear most of the stress for him, enabling him to work hard, play hard and just do his best to shine at the right times! The 10 Year Old also started to study Latin at his Prep School this year; so to support him with that, as the Classics graduate in the family, I’ve had to revise noun declensions and verb conjugations for the first time since Uni (about 30 years rusty!).
The 10 Year Old will metamorphose into The 11 Year Old before Christmas, so I make no apology for prioritising! On that note, I wanted to share my recent Goodreads review of Ryder Carroll’s book, The Bullet Journal Method. This is something that has been immensely beneficial to me over the last three years I have been using my own to track my past, make sense of my present and design my future. I now have a colourful collection of notebooks in my cupboard, that document my life personally, practically, comprehensively, yet briefly and always with purpose – to make the most of life after 40!
Here it is…
My review of this book would be incomplete without reference to my own personal experience of Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal Method.
In the summer of 2016, my son started Junior school. I struggled to equate others’ perception of me as an “organised” person, with my own battles against an inappropriately low sense of value I felt since switching roles and starting a part-time career five years or so earlier. My father had recently suffered a stroke in his early seventies, and being unable to recall at the end of each busy day exactly what the hell I had spent that time on, felt like more than a nagging concern – was mild dementia setting in already? My daily juggle to complete ever-growing to do lists (yes, lists, plural!), I felt like I was treading water at best, if not drowning. I struggled to see beyond the day to day and own my productivity. The result of this was that I started to carve out an hour or two each week to focus more time on my development while I was at work and I stumbled on an online post referencing this amazing new productivity hack – Bullet Journalling.
Following their suggested links to various Bullet Journalists, at first I watched the videos, read the How to… blog posts and followed the beautiful Insta-pages, feeling awed, inspired and discouraged in roughly equal measure by the sheer overwhelming creativity and perfection these tended to demonstrate.
Like many Bullet Journalists, I’m a recovering perfectionist but pretty soon I found Ryder’s own website, which set out in the most efficient terms, the bare bones of his blindingly simple, yet clearly effective method. I was inspired and started to keep my own journal as simple and functional as possible and trusted the formula to work for me, instead of blindly filling it with the attractive but time consuming artwork, or complex colour charts and trackers others used in theirs.
As a result, I quickly found I was gaining time I didn’t know I had, I felt I was achieving more effortlessly and most valuable of all, through the critical process of daily reflection and planning, I became aware of what I had actually achieved, what was wasting my time and energy and not only did my goals clarify themselves, their importance (or lack of!) also became apparent on a regular basis. So as soon as I saw Ryder was going to write a book about it all, I knew it was a must-read for me.
Much like the Method, the Book did not disappoint either.
Ryder stays true to his no-fuss approach. As you may expect, the book is simply laid out in a clean, focused and functional way, yet it retains its author’s genuinely thoughtful and articulate style. It is full of personal anecdotes and examples, articulating the problems Ryder had to overcome as he developed the process with due credit and reference to his strongest productivity influences, including Stephen Covey (7 Habits) and Dave Allen (Getting Things Done). It is an interesting and enjoyable read. There’s quite a lot to take in for the beginner, so I’d suggest reviewing Ryder’s Bullet Journal website first to get the overview and then reading the book carefully one chapter at a time – you’ll probably want to make notes as you go, too – either from beginning to end, or by whichever chapter speaks to you first (Ryder’s own suggestion).
You won’t find much artwork in the book, Ryder sticks to the simple layout he chooses and connects them in a simple stick-man, black and white, flow-chart style. He does, however, reference his own favourite members of the wider, more creative Bullet Journal community to humbly share the credit with them for the wider adoption of his method while also demonstrating the adaptability of the Method to individual style and preference, requirement and function.
You will find plenty of meat on the bones as to the purpose and meaning driving Ryder’s approach; read this to understand more about why his method is so valuable and how such a mindful approach is what all people of our time are crying out for; as we try to sift whatever besieges us from one day to the next, wherever we are in life’s journey, and learn what is meaningful and important to us right now if we are ever to achieve that illusive sense of purpose and run, walk or wheel our way past those goalposts.
This book does what it says on the tin – it tells Ryder’s personal story (tracks his past), sets out his method clearly (orders his present) and offers plenty of inspiration and enquiry as to how we might benefit from it (designs the future) ourselves.
Every home should have one.