I always wanted to be a freelance writer. That has always been the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for me. Of course, when you dream about something and turning that into a reality are two different things. Being a freelance writer is hard! There were a lot of new skills to learn (as there are with any new venture) and so I needed all the help I could get. It turned out that bullet journaling offered a lot of that help.
What is bullet journaling?
That’s the big question, isn’t it? Basically, bullet journaling is a way to journal with pen and paper in a way that you only need one notebook to keep all your plans, goals, lists and ambitions in one place. That’s great, because if you’re anything like I was before I started bullet journaling, you’ll have dozens of half-filled calendars, scribble books, loose papers and sticky notes detailing everything that you’re trying to remember.
That’s ghastly difficult to oversee.
The trick with bullet journaling is that by using a straight forward and simple system you can suddenly combine all of that into one central place – namely your bullet journaling notebook – using the system the creator describes in his video:
The system is quite flexible, so that you can make change it to reflect your problem solving needs and wants. Even better, it’s only a guideline and if you decide that you want to do things differently from how they were initially conceived by the creator, then you just go ahead and do that. Sure, the haters might then say you’re no longer ‘bullet journaling’ but what do you care?
After all, the goal is for the system to make your life better. And if that is best achieved by abandoning the system, then so be it!
How it helped me
Though to the outside it might seem like I’ve got everything organized, nothing could be further from the truth. Often I spend my time running after the facts and getting hugely stressed as I work on putting out fires instead of working ahead. And if you’ve ever freelanced, you’ll know that isn’t a very effective way to get things done.
And I mean that in a lot of ways. For example, cultivating new clients can take a lot of work and even then they often don’t pay for months. That means that if you want to stay financially solvable you actually have to make sure you’ve got these kinds of things sorted out ahead of time.
Then there’s the individual projects. Sometimes you’ve got a real lull where there’s nothing going on. Other times everything comes at you at the same time and suddenly you’re overwhelmed. Ideally, in the lull times you work on some of the long-term things that you conceived when you were being overwhelmed. The thing is, if you don’t keep careful track of those ideas, then by the time the lull comes they’ll often have slipped your mind, only for you to do a head slap as you recall them as the next bout of late-night work hits.
All these things add significantly to a life that can at times, due to the greater uncertainty of it, already be quite stressful.
Bullet journaling saved me from all that
Okay, not immediately. I took me a little bit of time to get used to the journaling. Even worse, as it originally wasn’t a habit yet, I would sometimes forget to write things in my journal, check my journal for important up-coming events and so on. That was quite annoying, I can tell you!
Then there was the stage where I threw everything and the kitchen sink at the journal. That means I wrote stuff in there which was entirely unnecessary. And that, in turn, made it harder to track what was actually important.
Still, those were just growing pains. Once I got the hang of what should go in the journal and what shouldn’t, as well as making sure I always had it with me and that I checked back to it regularly, then it started to work.
I immediately started to notice the benefits.
- I started on projects that needed doing just a few days earlier than I otherwise would have, which meant I didn’t have as big of a final-day push to get it done near the end.
- Instead of doing the busy work that always claims up most of our days, I kept my eye on the ball and spent that time working on those long-term projects that it’s really all about.
- I had a much better idea of how big projects and assignments were. This worked in both directions. I both realized that some things weren’t as big as I was making them out to be, as well as that other things would take more time than I’d originally thought. This allowed me to control the peaks and dales of how much I had to work more effectively.
Nor did the benefit of the system end there. I discovered that simply writing in my bullet journal and following the logic therein made me think more logically! The system imposed a cleaner, less muddled way of thinking!
I hadn’t seen that benefit coming when I first started out. I thought it would be a useful tool to help with my chaotic nature. It certainly did that. But it also made me far less chaotic. And that ended up being a huge benefit to me, as it meant that I managed to keep track of things even in places where I wasn’t using the journal. And that’s a big deal!
I can actually see all that back now, when I look through my journal. I can see my thinking become more systematic and I can see where a new way of looking at a problem suddenly clicked together. That’s another nice feature, I have to say. Being able to look back and see my development is nice – particularly as the system offers the space for not only organizing your life but also gives you space to reflect on things.
It’s a life saver
So yeah, I’m really grateful to the system and I have to say, I now heartily advise it to everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re a lawyer, a programmer or you supervise best college writing websites, everybody can potentially benefit from this simple little tool. Even better, even if it doesn’t work (and let’s be honest, it won’t for everybody) what have you really lost? A few hours of your time and a few pages in a notebook. That’s it.
Now that’s a pretty low barrier to entry if you ask me – particularly seeing as it can make such a huge difference.
Oh yeah, and it’s great for the kids as well. I mean, it teaches them that they don’t have to turn to that device in their pocket for everything, it teaches them handwriting skills and – even better – it might just make them smarter to write that way. And that’s something we all want to give our children. So why not give it to them along with this powerful tool?
Luisa Brenton writes in a variety of venues – academic, business, and online marketing content. She is a frequent contributor to www.topwritersreview.com, a review website that evaluates custom online writing services.
Luisa is a brand developer in the past. Mom, educational blogger in the present. Freelance writer by trade. Hiking fan by choice. Desperate inspiration seeker all the time. Find more on Facebook and Twitter.