Bullet Jouraling: The Perfectly Flexible ADHD Planner
It’s lucky that one of the best tools for ADHD people is a planner. I love planners. I do. I’m obsessed. There is something deep inside my soul that is touched when I see a fresh planner sitting there, ready to be written in. I feel the same way towards notebooks and journals. Actually, I have pretty much the same love for all office supplies. (It’s weird. I know. But for the sake of my self-image, let’s call it “cute”. Okay?)
However, as much as I love them, I don’t always utilize them well. I have tried actually using planners since the 6th grade. I’m just no good at it. For a long time, I just beat myself up about it. (Like a lot of ADHD people do about a lot of things.) I told myself if I were just more disciplined about using my planner, I’d be a lot better off. Then, after years and years of failing, I told myself that if I could just find the right planner, I would use it properly.
That lead to the purchase of a very beautiful and very expensive Plum Paper Planner. It was awesome. I couldn’t WAIT to get it in the mail and start using it. I adored it!!
… For like 3 months. And of course, I’d been so sure it was perfect, I’d ordered the 18 month version. So here was I was stuck with a year’s worth of empty planner and unable to make myself use it…
The thing I had to accept about my “planner life” is that my needs and desires change rapidly. In true ADHD fashion, what works for me for one month or season, doesn’t work for me the next. I get bored with it or my priorities change or I just can’t help but tweak it. This is when I discovered the Bullet Journal.
Oh Bullet Journal, how perfect thou art!
What’s a Bullet Journal?
Well, basically it’s a planner and a journal and a scrapbook all tied into one. If we’re thinking just in terms of planning and tracking events, let’s just call it a planner that you design as you go.
What makes a Bullet Journal special?
In a word, freedom. You’re not committing to a certain layout or design for any length of time. You can change it as often as you want without any of the guilt. It’s completely personal and completely custom. Furthermore, if you need to take a break from your planner, there are pages and pages of empty boxes waiting to mock you when you get back. (Which is excellent, because as I recently confessed, I ditched mine for two whole months!) You create pages as you go. For ADHDers who often feel like flakes because they can’t stick to anything consistently, this is some much-needed grace. (And I speak from personal experience on the “flakey” bit. I can’t imagine I’m the only one…)
Why do ADHD and Bullet Journaling go together?
BECAUSE! The constant change that comes with having ADHD is perfectly compatible with the fluidity of Bullet Journaling. You can plan by the hour, by the day, by the week, by the month, whatever suits your preference. And you can change your layout as often as once every week if you want to or need to.
What are the downsides?
Truth be told, I don’t think every ADHD person out there is cut out for a Bullet Journal partnership.
One reason is because some ADHD individuals can’t work with paper. They need an electronic planning system to help them through their lives. My husband and I have an app in mind for just that group of individuals. (But as we are both ADHD, we can’t promise when it will get done…)
The main downside is that it does require you to sit and work with it on a fairly regular basis. Some of us, like myself, enjoy drawing and designing and decorating the layouts. Others of us, however, would find that to be toxic levels of tediousness.
How do I start?
Pinterest is a fantastic resource for bullet journaling options. You can find guides for getting started, pages and pages of inspiration, and printables, all in one place.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I would suggest starting with a list of what you need from your planner, what you’d like from your planner, and then searching from there.
The most important thing to remember is that your Bullet Journal is 100% adaptable. What that means for you is that whatever doesn’t work this week or this month, next time around you can chunk it and try again. Over time, you’ll pick up bits and pieces of different layouts that just really resonate with you. So the only thing that’s absolutely essential is that you GET STARTED!
Don’t be a perfectionist…
Perfectionism is major stumbling block for ADHDers considering Bullet Journaling. Bullet Journals are generally hand-drawn and some people – the self-proclaimed anti-artists – find this intimidating. Even as a planner-enthusiast myself, I found it difficult to begin. Once I did, however, it was a total game-changer.
Stay tuned for more photos of my own bullet journal! It is one of my goals to share with you my personal insights into what worked for me and what didn’t.
What about you? What kind of planning system do you use? Let me know in the comments below!