I often get asked, ‘Which planner is best when you have ADHD?’ or ‘What do you think of planner X for someone with ADHD?’
The best planner is one that works for you.
So if you are a big fan of planner X, then keep using it!
But usually, the people asking these questions have yet to find the best planner for them, and that is where the Bullet Journal comes in.
The Bullet Journal ( BUJO ) is essentially a notebook that you customize to work for your brain.
What is a bullet journal?
A bullet journal is your all-in-one personal organization system.
- to-do list
- way to capture ideas for the future
- way to remember events that happened big and small
- place to brainstorming
- place to record anything else that’s important to you.
Is the Bullet Journal good if you have ADHD
Absolutely. Its creator, Ryder Carroll, has ADHD, and he originally developed the Bullet Journal to help himself.
When Ryder was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, not much was known about the condition.
In school, he realized that when he doodled in class, he could concentrate more than when he looked at the teacher.
Gradually, over the years, he pieced together helpful things that worked for him, and the Bullet journal was born.
An underlying idea of the bullet journal is when you declutter your mind, you can work on the things that are important to you and your life.
Key Components Of The Bullet Journal
Although you customize your BUJO, so it works your brain, there are some key components to a Bullet journal that make it different (and more helpful) to the other notebooks you have lying around your home 🙂
Just as a store-bought book has an index that lists topics and the associated page numbers, you will create your own index in the front of your bullet journal.
Your index isn’t in alphabetical order, but it’s still like a roadmap of your BUJO so you can find things quickly.
Number your pages.
For your index to work, you’ll need to number your page chronologically 1,2,3,4,5 etc.
Or you can buy a book that already has numbered pages!
I use the brand Leuchtturn 1917 for my bullet journal because all the pages have a printed number in the bottom corner. Plus, there is a blank index table on the first three pages, just waiting to be filled in.
The Future Log
This is where you write down events that are on the horizon. For example, birthdays, holidays, your dentist appointment in 6 months, and your dog’s annual checkup in 11 months.
You can still put these events in your digital online calendar. However, the benefit of putting them in The Future Log of your BUJU is that you’ll see it often, and it won’t be a surprise the week or day of the event.
If you google ‘Bullet Journal Future Log,’ you’ll see lots of different layouts so you can pick which one you’d prefer.
The Monthly Log
This is where you write down events that are happening this month. They might include events from your future log as well as items like ‘pay X bill,’ ‘take the trash out’
If you google ‘Bullet Journal monthly log,’ you’ll see lots of different layouts so you can pick which one you’d prefer. And if you try one and don’t love it, you can test out a different style the next month.
The future log and monthly feature of the bullet journal support your memory and time blindness, which many ADHDers have.
The Daily Log.
This is where you write your to-do’s for the day. If you complete them, YAY! If you don’t complete them, you can carry them over to the next day.
Ryder Carroll recommends you write them daily rather than planning further into the future.
Here are some of the additional features you could include in the journal.
Trackers can help you stay accountable or help you learn more about yourself.
Examples of trackers include
A habit tracker.
Each day you track something that you’d like to become a habit. For example, you might decide you want to get into the habit of washing your dishes after dinner.
Back when my 17-year-old cat, Kitty, took lots of different meds, some 2x a day, some daily, and some twice a week.
I made a tracking chart with checkboxes to put a tick in when she’d received the medication.
This was an excellent visual for me and helped me stay organized.
Some people like to track their moods daily, which can give you helpful insights into monthly and yearly themes.
Period trackers, financial trackers, homework trackers, water trackers, nutritional trackers, sleep trackers, and energy trackers are all examples of things that you might find helpful to track.
Start small, though. If you are new to Bullet journaling, don’t try and track everything at once.
Collections are where you collect similar things together. For example, you might have a collection of movies you’d like to watch. Books you’d like to read. Places to visit. Then when you hear about, for example, a movie you’d like to watch, you can add it to your ‘movie to watch’ collection.
This is great for the ADHD brain because often when you have time to do something, like sit and watch a movie or go be a tourist in your own city, your brain goes blank, and you can’t think of anything.
If you are working on a task and an idea pops into your head, rather than taking action on the idea, you write it down in your BUJU. This way, you never forget anything, and you aren’t jumping from one task to the next. Later in the day, when you are reviewing your day, you can decide if and when you’d like to accomplish your brain dump tasks.
Do you have to be artsy to use a Bullet Journal?
No! But I know why you asked this question!. If you google BUJU or go onto Pinterest, you’ll see the most spectacular art people have drawn to decorate their habit trackers, or monthly log etc.
But don’t you don’t have to be artistic to use a bullet journal.
Remember that a bullet journal is primarily an organization tool.
I use Washi tape to decorate or color code my pages. This way, they look pretty, but I haven’t need to draw anything 🙂
When is the best time to start a Bullet Journal?
It’s always a good time to start using a bullet journal.
Because you start with a blank notebook, you aren’t limited to the calendar year, academic year or the space provided in pre-designed planners.
You can start today!
And when one notebook is full, you start a new one.
If you are someone who is tempted by the promise of a different layout (lots of ADHDers are), you don’t need to buy a new planner. Instead, you can experiment with the new layout in your bullet journal.
Here’s what the Facebook group members wrote about their experiences of using a bullet journal:
“What has been helpful for me is the act of actually writing (not typing) things down. It has been helping me remember things.
I recommend the Bullet journal book because there is a structure to it that is hard to explain, but it works for my brain”
“I use a bullet journal too; the concept of it means you migrate tasks from yearly to monthly to weekly, then daily ‘spreads’ so you are constantly evaluating its need and bringing it to your attention.
Also, it can be completely adapted to your needs, and when I inevitably get bored of one layout I can change it up. It is fun to see how my journals have evolved over the years.”
If you are feeling inspired to learn more, here are a couple of helpful resources
A podcast interview with Ryder Caroll.
In this episode, Ryder explains how the Bullet Journal idea was created, his ADHD journey, and an overview of what the bullet journal is.
He also explains how organization can be its own form of distraction.
Here’s his book called
The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future.
By Ryder Caroll
Do you use a bullet journal?
If you do, let me know your experience!
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