It’s a bit bold to say that everyone should do a certain thing. But here goes: a bullet journal is the best tool you can use to stay organized and track your life.
The number one reason is our brains process information much more thoroughly when we write it by hand.
More processing time:
A study by Princeton and UCLA – profiled in this NPR article – shows that students who used a laptop to take notes generally tried to capture everything the professor said verbatim, because we can type faster than we write. And thus, had longer notes with which to study later.
But when they were provided a comprehension quiz after the lecture, they scored significantly worse than their counterparts who wrote longhand notes.
Writing longhand does generally take longer, so as a student you’ve got to paraphrase what the professor is saying. This tiny amount of analysis in the recording phase of learning makes a significant different in the comprehension.
Now, you may be saying “surely that doesn’t apply to me, I don’t have to take notes” or something.
But, being an “organized person” means you have a clear understanding of your tasks and responsibilities and how they relate to the amount of time you have available.
It’s when you lose perspective of this relationship that you run into time management issues. Before we got married, my husband was notoriously bad about this and we’d often end up “double booked” between family, friend, and school obligations. Mostly because he tried to either keep all the obligations in his head or in a scarcely used Google Calendar.
I even struggled with this for a time during college when I tried desperately to find a digital solution for my planner. Inevitably, with each program I ran into two issues: I forgot to use it and it never suited my needs.
Some programs had monthly tracking, but not daily or weekly. Or some had issues with their actual task management. And every program I tried I would always think “Oh I’ll record that thing the next time I pull out my phone” instead of doing it immediately when a pen and paper.
Regardless, I always felt I had a better handle on my responsibilities (and life) when I kept a paper planner. (Even though I had issues with store bought ones too!)
So, it felt very right when I found all this research about the benefits of analog records keeping because that’s what I had been experiencing my entire student career.
Digital calendars can be extremely relevant when managing many people. My old job had one for requested time off and it was great because you could see blacked out days and how many people had already requested that time. But they lose their effectiveness when just managing one person (or in our case, two).
Another great benefit to an analog planner is that it is completely separate from your phone/device.
Why yes, Hannah, what an astute observation.
But what I’m getting at – it takes less mental energy to jot down a quick note or reminder than it does to navigate the seemingly absurd number of fields required to create a reminder on your smartphone.
You don’t have to worry about running out of battery or data. And there is the added bonus of increased privacy. Since you don’t have to create an account, your keeping your schedule private and not in some company’s database.
Your notebook will always be there waiting for you to record equally astute observations as the one above.
But why a bullet journal?
Now that we’ve established that paper is the superior form of organization, why insist that everyone use a bullet journal?
It’s the customizable and flexible nature of bullet journaling. A store-bought planner is never going to 100% fit your needs for an organization device.
(seriously, who uses the million address book pages they give you)
And bullet journaling can be as simple as you want. The four pages detailed in my previous post are the only ones you need.
Getting fancy and adding all sorts of layouts or art is purely an individual choice. (even the original method is pretty sparse.)
(During my recent move all semblance of a layout went out the window with my journal. It was just several pages of notes and thoughts and things to do that I was tracking. i.e. cancel the power, set up new internet, how much are we trying to fit in the car?!)
And you can bullet journal in any kind of notebook. You can use lined, dotted, or blank paper. You can build one out of a three-ring binder or buy a fancy smancy leather bound tome.
There are so many options, the bullet journal world is your oyster. Not literally though, because that’d be gross.
Let me know in the comments what you think about the benefits of a paper system. Or if you’re a diehard digital loyalist, I’d love you know your opinion too!