Book Review: “The Bullet Journal Method” by Ryder Carroll
I don't know about you, but I'm always on the hunt for a new good read. With so many books out there it's hard to know which ones are going to contain those ah-ha moments and which will just be meh.
Once in a while you get lucky and stumble upon a book by word of mouth from a trusted friend – and that's just what's happened here! Shaina, the head of graphic design for I Heart Planners, recently read The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll and has put together an in depth review for us.
Keep reading – you're in for a real treat!
I’ve felt it the same as many of you have, I’m sure. That overwhelming dread that I’ll never quite catch up with my to-do list, that I’m forgetting something really important, and that, if something doesn’t change, I’m going to be stuck feeling exactly the same way for the rest of my life.
Know what I mean?
And so for years I searched and searched for some sort of system that would ease this feeling, even just a little bit. I tried planners that only got used until about February 6th. I tried so many apps I forgot which ones had which information plugged into them. I bought classes that were supposed to help me get and stay more organized but never had enough time to actually go through all the content. It seemed to be a never-ending pattern of chaos and defeat.
And then in July of 2015, I stumbled across Bullet Journaling on Instagram (of course!) and fell madly in love. I dove headfirst into the hand-drawn layouts and daily logs, doing my best to figure it all out as I went along. Over the months, and years now, it has become a really personal way for me to keep track of what has happened, live more fully present in the moment during my days, and plan for the future.
So when Ryder Carroll, the inventor and creator of the Bullet Journal process, wrote and released his book all about it, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. My paper-pen-checklist-journal-loving heart was all-in! And let me tell you… I got what I expected from this book, but also SO MUCH MORE.
Here’s my review of “The Bullet Journal Method” and why I think everyone should read it, even if you’re already rocking a planner/organizing system you love.
I think the book’s tagline: “Track the Past. Order the Present. Design the Future” says so much. This is way more than just a to-do list, this is a way of life. And using the Bullet Journal Method as a tool, you can pack way more productivity, meaning, intentionality, and life into your days.
Ryder Carroll starts his book by talking about his diagnosis with ADD back in the 80’s when not much was know about it, and even less was known about how to help people with it. To help organize the chaos in his own mind he created this system over a period of time that was part planner, diary, notebook, to-do list, and sketchbook, giving his mind a place to focus and stay organized. As the years passed and he really honed his system and started to share it with others, it became clear he was onto something.
“The Bullet Journal method’s mission is to help us become mindful about how we spend our two most valuable resources in life: our time and our energy. It will help you accomplish more by working on less. It helps you identify and focus on what is meaningful by stripping away what is meaningless.”
It does this through a powerful framework that is flexible, forgiving, and practical.
You might expect the book to begin with a basic tutorial of the different sections of a Bullet Journal, with diagrams and examples, showing you how to use it. And yes, the book includes those things. But interestingly, the book does something completely unexpected and refreshing: it starts with WHY.
And I think WHY is the most important place to start. Because that’s the thing that was missing for me before with my previous planners, and apps, and courses. I just thought I wanted to be less scatter-brained, more organized, and productive. I didn’t realize that each task I wrote down, or event I said “yes” to, or project I wanted to tackle, or goal I set was (consciously or subconsciously) defining the meaning of my life. The Bullet Journal method allows you to make these choices with intention, aligning the things we spend our days doing with the things we truly believe in. So powerful, right?!
The next few chapters dive deep into the framework itself. These parts include the Index, Future Log, Monthly Log, Daily Log, Rapid Logging (a total game changer!), Collections, and the crux of it all: Migration. Each part of the framework is explained in detail with examples of what it can look like and how you can make it your own.
Then the book shifts gear a little, focusing on the Practice of Bullet Journaling. Pairing action with belief and through reflection, we can begin to see how this method will really add meaning to our lives, and help us set and reach goals that actually matter to our hearts. The author shares his approach to goals and working on things in sprints and how that can help us perpetuate our motivation. I really loved this section… seeing the difference between traditional goal-setting and working on things in sprints was a total “aha moment” for me. I can’t wait to implement more of this in my own BuJo.
The final section is all about the Art of Bullet Journaling, which is why I fell in love with it in the first place. Those images on Instagram of custom collections, gorgeous trackers, mood mandalas, and the like. But I love that the author pulls you back to center again, reminding you that anything you add to your Bullet Journal needs to serve a purpose. Don’t allow the pretty to distract you from your purpose. Such a powerful reminder.
The book ends with a note that no two Bullet Journals are alike, and that’s the beauty of the Bullet Journal Method. It helps each individual facilitate their own journey of self-discovery through awareness, reflection, intention, and purpose.
Reading this book has motivated me to be more intentional with not just my personal Bullet Journal, but with my life. I thought I’d already learned all there was to know about the concepts behind the Bullet Journal, and I was so wrong. I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy and allow it to guide you on a journey to discover your deeper WHY and see how tracking daily really is the key to becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be. I know I am forever changed.
Want to get a copy for yourself? Order the hard copy or the Kindle version directly from Amazon HERE. And if you take the time to read it my team and I would love to hear your thoughts. Come share with us on Instagram @iheartplanners.