A Bullet Journal is more than just the notebook and it is more than just about pretty pages. It is about flexibility, efficiency, and a catch-all for what you need. More than that, it’s a way to organize and express yourself. It’s a vague description for a reason – a bullet journal is not really about the notebook anymore, it’s about the lifestyle that goes with it. What can that lifestyle bring you? Read on.
What is a bullet journal?
I’ve answered this question and gave 4 tips on How To Start Bullet Journaling– Bullet journaling can definitely be overwhelming at first. The lot of it has been said and done, many have experimented and shown you their version of bullet journaling that works for them.
The whole point of having a blank notebook is customization, so I will not tell you what is best, prettiest, etc…
In today’s post, I will be giving you my two cents about how the latest happiness and productivity research can apply to journaling and I will be giving away a free worksheet which will help guide you on how to use bullet journaling, without the clutter, for you. The rest is up to you. It’s never too late to start fresh or to get a new focus on where you’ll be going, especially in 2018 when your New Years Intentions got to start on Monday, January 1 2018 – and by start I mean to live inside your imagination until you’re ready to face them… And that’s okay! Let’s do this, fam!
Your Bullet Journal can be extremely beneficial as a way to increase subjective well-being (happiness), productivity and motivation.
How does your bullet journal increase happiness, productivity and motivation?
I’m so glad you asked, teehee!
Benefits of Bullet Journaling
Journaling (whether you get a lined, dot grid, or square grid notebook) is beneficial to have the flexibility to become a haven for dopamine production and a sanctuary for your mind.
Depending on your needs, journaling can help…
# 1 visualize & follow through on your goals
# 2 unburden your mind by unloading some of your worries (and racing-inspired thoughts!) by having a “brain dump”
# 3 track the things you’ve always wanted to track
# 4 remember all of the things you tried to hard to hold onto
#5 never miss another thing.
All of these can lead to an increase in your subjective well-being, aka happiness.
Every time you check off a box in your journal to mark something as completed, your brain releases dopamine. Even if you’ve already done the thing and you are just writing and checking it to get the increased dopamine – I swear.
Not that I’ve done that or anything…
Every time you follow through with a goal, whether it be to save 5$ a week or write every day or lose 2 pounds, your brain releases dopamine. You’ve succeeded!!! YAAAAAASSS.
By writing “brain dumps” (yes, you may find a prettier way to say this if it pleases you) not only are you freeing your mind to think bigger, better things, but you will also be writing down ideas that pass in a flurry which you may not have acted on without writing it down or without the extra thought real-estate.
After writing brain dumps, go in with a different colour pen, marker, or what pleases you to highlight the memorable moments – epiphanies, ideas, recurring negative thoughts that you need to work on, etc.
Want to know another huge benefit of bullet journaling? Increase your creativity, your courage, and maybe even GET A FLOW EXPERIENCE! Whaaaaaaat? Ever heard of “being in the zone”? Have you ever been happier than when you were in the zone? I’ll be incorporating some of my work from a research paper on creativity, artists and flow in Spring 2017. If you’re interested, keep reading!
Why is flow relevant?
Imagine a painter, an artist, a creative type – what do you see?
Do you see a frantic and perplexed-looking person who may or may not have showered in the past week?
What about an oddly dressed, seemingly struggling artist? A snobby ‘made-it-to-the-top’ à la parisienne artist?
No matter how you see this artist, I hope your mind illustrated that there is a commonly preconceived notion that being successful in this day and age means pulling all-nighters, roughing it, and being “superhuman through the refusal of self-care” as Miya Tokumitsu perfectly put it in her article Forced to Love the Grind (Tokumitsu, 2015).
This is true whether the conversation is about a successful (insert here) : creative, student, entrepreneur, a professional with a side-hustle, or any combination of the aforementioned.
Flow is relevant because it is the most amazing way to have that passion and drive that more and more of us are looking for in a career. Flow is so important because it is sometimes fleeting, but always wonderful.
How do you have a career you’re passionate about? You try to add a little flow magic to whatever you do. You find a way to enjoy it and you invest in your future by finding what works for you so that the time you spend growing with your thang is magical and makes you want to keep going. Because the more you flow, the less likely you’ll let go!
Best part: you can experience flow doing literally anything if the conditions are right. No flow discrimination right.
Truth-bomb: Like anything, it won’t always be fabulous and you won’t always be in the flow. But for shits and giggles, how about let’s do our damned best, huh?
What is flow?
Flow… is best defined by your imagination.
It is the nights you’ve spent feverishly writing, painting, cooking, singing; doing anything really that you have enjoyed and immersed yourself wholly in. The moments you’ve lost track of time; you didn’t want to stop, and you felt fucking amazing.
Its synonyms are flow experience, optimal experience, being in the zone, inspiration.
The concept of the flow experience was first introduced by positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in the 1970s; with time this topic became a staple in the study of subjective well-being and happiness.
Flow is a way to success while learning to let go of the grueling aspects of “the grind”
It is a highly pleasurable experience; it is a state of mind that is regarded as the height of productivity and bliss (Csíkszentmihályi, 1990, p.2).
And that is why, my friends, flow and bullet journaling are like two peas in a pod.
Ok, ok, more about flow, I know you want it:
SYMPTOMS OF THE FLOW EXPERIENCE:
being focused and concentrated in an activity
feeling ecstatic, almost as if stepping outside of oneself and of the mundanity of everyday reality
experiencing sensations of clarity and serenity
knowing the activity itself is at a level that makes it achievable, but challenging and requiring skill (expertise)
having intrinsic motivation
and, being in an everlasting moment of bliss where “hours seem to pass by in minutes” (Csíkszentmihályi, 2004).
While many of these components will be familiar (if not infrequent) to many, the concept of intrinsic motivation may not be.
What is intrinsic motivation?
Intrinsic motivation refers to a behaviour being valuable to an individual; a place of happiness or reward coming from within. Intrinsic motivation has its’ place in the study of motivation and productivity and therefore has its place in a conversation about flow and bullet journaling for happiness and productivity.
Flow and your Bullet Journal
Flow is achieved when there is a Goldilocks’ balance of skill and challenge – the skill a person has and the respective challenge of the task at hand.
The reason we may rarely be in a flow state are related to challenge, skill, and anything that would interrupt concentration or focus.
Too little challenge and skill? A person may feel apathetic.
Too much challenge and too little skill? A person may feel anxious.
These factors influence a person’s ability to work in a creative state and achieve flow (Csíkszentmihályi, 2004).
These are just some of the factors that can influence whether an individual is able to achieve the optimal experience. There are many more, and if you’d like to learn more about this please let me know in the comments.
What I’m interested in, however, is removing those factors that throw off a person’s chance of enjoying a flow state regularly and using bullet journal as a method to do that.
#1 Writing it All Out
By catching all fly-away ideas in one place – writing it all out, you’re freeing your mind to do more, think better, and focus on what you need to focus on.
When I work on blog posts, do research, or write, I take notes in my journal. It’s beside me at all times when I’m in “work mode” and it helps me get the extra zest out of whatever I’m doing.
#2 Reducing Anxiety
You can get a handle on anxiety with a routine and journal that works for you.
Okay, we get that a bullet journal is entirely customizable (heck that’s the point) but sometimes it can be too much so. Remedy? Figure out what works for you (yes, it may take a few weeks-to-months trial and error) but I’ve created a worksheet that will help you hone down and go minimalistic on what you want to include in your journal, which should hopefully make journaling an effective tool for getting control back in the anxiety department.
Doing stuff takes courage. Know that fear might be with you but that it doesn’t have to dictate whether you try something or not, and it definitely has no say in the quality of your work at the end of the day. It’s a response to the new stimuli, that’s all.
Anyone who has struggled with anxiety and/or depression knows all too personally how challenging it can be to do the seemingly most basic tasks. Not to mention dealing with your own reliability, memory challenges, flakiness, unpredictable or simply low mood.
Even if you’re not anxious or depressed – surpassing who you were yesterday takes courage. It takes cojones. Putting yourself out there like you do every day is a lot.
Your bullet journal is a safe place to turn to; it’s entirely yours.
Yes, there are so many people who put theirs on display – but I suggest that you do not. Unless there are specific pages that you want to show at some point, go for it by all means, but do not create with the goal of flaunting. If you do, I fear that you are missing the most glorious part of bullet journaling: that it is a self-development and organizational tool that you are making for you.
Of course, please talk to your care professionals about changing up a routine or finding tools.
#3 Aesthetics & Minimalism!
Learn to care less about what’s irrelevant or extra – and to relax with the wonderfulness which is discovering and honing in your aesthetics.
People have this misconception that minimalism means having a capsule wardrobe and only dressing in black and white but minimalism is a spectrum and is more of an idea about realizing that the people and stuff that surround us have an impact on us psychologically, and even physically.
In 2018, minimalism is also the realization that there is an impact on buying all of the things and then throwing them out. What I’m saying is that minimalism goes hand-in-hand with being environmentally-friendly.
What’s ironic, is that once you have less, your mind is free to do more! That is how aesthetics and minimalism can lead to flow – you’re surrounding yourself with comfort, happiness and goals – that it is a prime environment for success and for flow.
Another thing – once you get more comfortable with asserting your own aesthetics, you won’t feel as obsessed with perfection, which leads us to #4…
#4 Play: Unleashing Creativity and Your Inner Child
Once you get comfortable with journaling and you feel adventurous, you get to play – guilt-free, consequence-free.
Play and creativity end up being a circuit that feeds itself – the more you play, the more inspired you get and the more ideas you get. This will lead to flow in one of two ways: a) you will increase the skill with time so playing more will create more challenge, and b) by playing around you might actually inspire yourself, leading to new project ideas, techniques and innovations. That’s flow, baby!
#5 Catalogued Progress
You’ll be cataloguing your days, progress, ideas, thoughts, work. You’ll be encouraged to set new goals in your bullet journal. By taking the challenge and taking the time to improve your skills, and then taking advantage of all the resources out there to express yourself and unlock some good stuff, not only will you be being courageous, but you will also be developing on the exact recipe for flow. If journaling will not directly be your experience of bliss, journaling can still help you have your bliss in another activity!
For example, if you’re into photography and want to have flow in a photo shoot, there are few better ways to increase your skill (therefore decreasing anxiety and being able to take on more challenges) than by taking notes, doodling shoot ideas and even having inspo snapshots than in your journal.
Essentially, a bullet journal can be an extraordinary tool for finding meaning, organization and happiness in your life. Find what works for you.
Get Started With our FREE Worksheet and Participate in our Give Away:
To help, I’ve created a worksheet that lists common uses for bullet journals as well as tips to help you find what will be useful for you.
We are also giving away a complete bullet journaling kit to help you kick off the new year. All you have to do is sign up for our Newsletter, and stay tuned!
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out either in the comment sections or on Instagram @CheekyHippies
Thank you for reading!
S O U R C E S & F U R T H E R R E A D I N G :
“Forced to Love the Grind” by Miya Tokumitsu
Flow by Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi
Finding Flow by Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi0