No seriously. It did.
In 2017 I was pretty clapped out. Three young kids, a never-ending house renovation, a business to run and hopefully grow, holidays to organise, family to visit, friends to keep in touch with (badly! Sorry guys!), and a frustrated creative urge that never seemed to get to the top of my dreaded to-do list.
I was spinning all the plates, and feeling all the pressure.
But then I discovered this thing called bullet journalling. A simple paper-and-pen technique that promised to sort out my entire life. I went along to a workshop organised by the Cheltenham MumBoss Club, and OH MY GOODNESS it was a revelation!
So without further ado, here are my top five reasons why the bujo has saved my life:
1 – Before the bujo I was too busy, and never happy
Yep. Awful. Frantic, erratic, dashing about like a headless chicken…completely unfocused but also really driven. It wasn’t a healthy way to live and I was sinking. The bullet journal technique made me identify the things I actually wanted to achieve, work out my plans for achieving those things, and break down the goals into daily/weekly/monthly tasks that I could actually manage in the time I had. I started achieving way more stuff, in the same amount of time. Partly this was because the journal made me mindful of the stuff I kept writing down every week/month and not actually doing; it made me more self aware. I admitted that I did not do those things because I didn’t want to or have to. Suddenly I saw the weight of things that I detested doing, but wrote on my lists anyway, and I gradually STOPPED DOING THAT SHIT. There. That’s better already isn’t it?
2 – Before the bujo I was always forgetting things, or thinking I was forgetting things
Before Children (BC) I was the most organised teacher on earth. Never missed a meeting or forgot a deadline, or to drop off a thing to a person en route home, or any of that little stuff. After Dylan (AD) I was a nightmare! Couldn’t even remember to buy loo roll when I’d gone specifically to the shop to buy loo roll. This is because we can only store seven things in our short-term memory, and when you have to keep a child alive all day, your brain is already chocablock with STUFF and it’s impossible to keep any more than seven plates spinning at once. The bujo is an external hard drive for my brain. I forget 95% less stuff than I did a year ago. It’s such a relief!
3 – Before the bujo was The Motherload
Imagine the scene. Your partner has yoga at lunchtime (remind him to take his kit), and the kids have football, swimming, recorder lessons and ballet at 45-minute intervals today (all the kit x4), and it’s your grandad’s birthday tomorrow (must post that card), and the builder is coming to quote (what for again?), and the cats need booking in for the cattery in April (ring during office hours), and you have a birthday party to organise before the holiday, oh and you need to pack for that holiday for five people, and, and, and, and…what am I meant to be doing right now?! The motherload is real. We carry everyone’s to-do lists round in our heads, as well as our own. Guess what? The bullet journal lightens this load and there is way less overwhelming of ME going on round here these days.
4 – Before the bujo I was frustrated by fleeting ideas and so grumpy about losing them!
I’d be feeding the kids and think of a genius idea, but during the ‘No! I want the blue plate and the toast cut into star shapes!’ battles of tea time, I’d misplace my genius idea under a pile of washing up and self pity, and then never find it again. With the bullet journal as my go-to place to jot things down, my own space for my own thoughts, I can keep track of little ideas and then, as time goes on, they might join forces and become Proper Plans, just like The Window Magazine, or this week’s International Day of Multilingualism I’m helping to organise…I have nurtured these little seeds and grown fully-fledged projects out of half-articulated thoughts that I previously felt sad about losing in the noise of everyday life.
5 – Before the bujo I never had time for creativity
I’ve always been the creative, doodling type, yet not so good at art that I need to carry a sketchbook and charcoal around with me at all times. However, I know that when I do the occasional bit of colouring in with the kids I LOVE it! As the bullet journal has released me from the drudgery of being overwhelmed and paralysed by constant tasks that all feel equally urgent, I now have time to get the Crayolas out for my own benefit. And no one is going to see the results if I don’t want them to so it’s all for my own benefit. It feels good to release my creative energy somewhere I can keep it and it brings me joy to look back on the year’s doodles too. A bit like a mood tracker of my year – the colours and images show me what I’ve been up to as much as the tasks and events do.
So there you have it. I can’t recommend bullet journalling enough. And because I now have some much extra time (!) I run a few workshops every year to help people discover this amazing technique for themselves. This Saturday 30th March at The Happy Makers’ Project in Bishops Cleeve I’m running a workshop to explain how bullet journalling can save your life, and how to create time for creativity. Come and join us! Book a ticket right here, and if you book two tickets (one for you, and one for your mum?) you save £5.
A Guest Blog from Cate Hamilton
Cate Hamilton is the co-founder of Babel Babies; multilingual, multisensory music sessions and loves helping parents and children learn languages together. She used to teach reluctant teenagers French, but realised after having her first child that babies are total geniuses at learning languages, and adults often wish they could speak other languages, so we should pair them up. She is a maman of three and enjoys (school) runs, photography and baking elaborate birthday cakes.
Find Babel Babies on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and join the little language revolution that started in Cheltenham nearly six years ago when two sleep-deprived mamans said to each other, “Know Twinkle Twinkle in any other languages? I’m so bored of singing it in English!”