I’d never heard of bullet journaling until a few weeks ago, but apparently it’s becoming a huge thing! The first mention of it to hit my ears was from my friend Mimi, who is an amazing leadership coach and astrologer. Bullet journaling is one of the tools that she uses to support her clients in increasing their effectiveness in all areas of their lives. She asked me if I wanted to be a guinea pig in a new 4-week bullet journaling course she’s developing, and I immediately jumped at the chance to . In addition to the obvious benefit of improved time management, Mimi promised me increased self-awareness and goal manifestation. So far we’ve had two coaching sessions and I’ve been bullet journalling daily. Here’s what I’ve learned from the experience so far!
1. I do a lot more in a day than i give myself credit for. My professional to-do list has always felt so endless that I find myself working late into the night trying to complete it. I of course never do (because there’s always another task around the corner!) and the result is that I end each day feeling unaccomplished. Yet with Mimi’s approach to bullet journaling, I’m also including all the calls, meetings, and “insignificant” items on my to-do list, so that when I cross them off, I recognize how much I actually have done at the end of the day.
For example, replying to comments and messages on Instagram requires a good chunk of time each day—an hour or more!—but I’d never include it on my to-do list because it felt so mundane. Now, it’s an item that gets written down and crossed off just like any larger, more seemingly “important” projects. The result of including all my daily activities on my to-do list is that I’ve been giving myself a lot more credit for how hard I work and how productive I am. And I’m giving myself permission to stop working at a more reasonable hour, since I’m able to recognize that I really have gotten a good chunk of work done for the day!
2. I don’t leave space for transitions. In addition to planning my tasks each day, Mimi has me tracking how I’ve actually spent my time at the end of each day. Making note of how I’m filling all my hours is teaching me a ton about how I set myself up for frustration when I plan out my days. The biggest example of this is my failure to take transitions from one task to another into account. I won’t include the time driving from one appointment to another on my calendar, for example; or I won’t keep in mind that my brain needs a little break when I finish one task and shift into a different set of skills for the next. Instead, I pack my days full of appointments and to-do’s, then wonder why I feel like I’m constantly behind the eight ball as I try to complete it all. It’s taken me the last 10 days of bullet journaling to recognize this pattern. Now that I have, I’ll be experimenting with including transition time in my plan for each day. I’m excited to see how it works out!
3. I let interruptions run my time. Probably the most impactful realization I’ve had is the extent to which I let interruptions from others interfere with completing my own big picture tasks. This tendency is something I’ve always known to be the case, but the daily practice of being in touch with how I’m spending my time has also put me more in touch with how I’m feeling as I’m moving through my day.
What I observed is that every time I get a text, phone call, or “urgent” email requesting something from me, I actually have a small but significant jolt of panic in my belly. That sense of panic prompts me to drop whatever I’m doing and fulfill the other person’s request. It’s a subtle and insidious form of people pleasing, an attempt to make others happy and also make it seem like I am effortlessly on top of everything. The price I pay is in my own peace-of-mind, and in the sacrifice to my own important tasks and goals!
In our most recent coaching session, Mimi and I explored ways I’ll practice breaking this habit. To start, I’ll park my phone in another room and turn my iMessages off when I’m doing something that requires my focused attention. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes, and on further learnings as my bullet journaling journey continues!
Images are not of MY bullet journal but rather are from this beautiful + inspiring bullet journal Instagram account!