WTF Is the Bullet Journal? (And Why Are People So Obsessed With It?) 

Bullet journals | Photos via @thebulletjournaladdict (left) @annaslettering

Bullet journals | Photos via @thebulletjournaladdict (left) @annaslettering (right)

The bullet journal has been taking over the internet lately. To wit: If you search #bulletjournal on Instagram, you will find over 200,000 photos of people’s journals — yes, THOUSANDS of people are Instagramming their journals — from all around the world.

So, WTF is the bullet journal, you ask? Well, it’s a journaling technique that was created by Ryder Carroll, a Booklyn-based digital product designer. The technique is … complicated to say the least, but it can be put into any journal and molded to fit and highlight your particular needs and priorities and organize just about everything in your life, from your eating habits to your emotions to your workouts to your to-do list. As Carroll explains in a video on the bullet journal, it’s a single place to “track the past, organize the present and plan for the future.” See the full video of Carroll explaining the journaling technique below. (It’s been viewed an impressive two million times, by the way).

Now, doesn’t the idea of having one place to put all your tasks, worries, goals, and so on — from doing the laundry to becoming the next Beyoncé (just me?) — make your mind let out a loud, relieved “Ahhhhhhhh” sound? Well, THAT my friends, is why people are obsessed with the bullet journal: Having a method to put things down on paper that feels organized, manageable and personalized tempers the “HOLY SHIT, how am I ever going to get ALL of this stuff done?!?!?” fears that can arise from a crazy to-do list.

A few weeks ago, Science of Us chatted with behavioral neuroscientist Daniel Levitin about how, exactly, the bullet journal soothes a stressed-out, panic-filled mind and he confirmed that having a place to store thoughts and tasks that would otherwise be taking up valuable space in your brain, and balancing those tasks with reminders to engage in mindless fun — many use the bullet journal in part for doodling or to check off activities like reading or taking “me time” — helps to soothe the mind.

And as clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior told BuzzFeed, which just put together this super-useful guide to using a bullet journal for better mental health, “When your life and emotions feel so out of control of chaotic, there is something immensely therapeutic about organizing it into a systematic structure like a bullet journal. You lay things out in an aesthetically pleasing way and already it does feel more manageable … It feels luxurious, too.”

And when I say that people are obsessed with the bullet journal, I mean they are OBSESSED. Again, see the #bulletjournal posts. And comments on a recent blog post by Carroll read like reviews for a top-notch life coach. Take this one for example: “Just after Thanksgiving I finished chemo for stage 3 colon cancer. I worked through my treatments but it was hard to focus on everything. Then when I finished, it took me awhile to wrap my head around what I went through. I found I was missing appointments or going to the wrong office or missing meetings. Then I decided to start bullet journaling to get my head and heart back into everyday life. It has been a huge help and I find that I am on top of my home life and my work life.”

Makes you want to run out and grab one for yourself right this second, doesn’t it?

I’ll admit: After watching the bullet journal video put together by Carroll, above, a few weeks ago, the idea of bullet journaling sort of intimidated me. It seemed a little tooooo organized for my liking. But after reading a bit more about it and learning that Carroll sees it as an incredibly moldable method that can be bent to your sanity’s liking, and scrolling through some of the thousands of Instagram posts, I’m thinking of trying to set up a bullet journal of sorts in the organizer I’ve already got going.

And there you have it: My weekend arts and crafts project. Anyone else planning on getting in on the bullet journal game or already a fan of the technique?

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