I am a compulsive list-maker. Everything in my life needs a list – not just times where a high level of organisation is required – such as Christmas, moving house or getting married – but everyday tasks like ordering the groceries and remembering to renew my travelcard. For my wedding I had a to-do list of over 150 items which later morphed into a spider diagram covering two A1 sheets of paper. I was in organisation heaven. (Okay, maybe my inner Bridezilla emerged but at least everyone involved knew what they were supposed to be doing). In fact only this week, my plumber joked about my prolific list-making. I bet he was wondering how on earth he would have managed to refurbish our bathroom without my daily lists. Moving house last year involved what my husband dubbed the ‘nerve centre’: a file containing list upon list upon list which covered every aspect of the move from the paperwork to buying a bottle of champagne to leave in the fridge for our buyers.
Every Sunday night I draw up a list for the coming week. In fact, holidays are the only time I don’t make lists. (That’s once I am on holiday: the lead-up and preparations involve many a list) I’m not alone in loving a good list: if you haven’t read Mike Gayle’s The To-Do List novel, then I suggest you add it your reading list right now. People who get stuff done make lists. I’m pretty sure world leaders and self-made billionaires are all list-makers.
The internet’s latest obsession with the bullet journal (or #BuJo as the kids say) seemed like the answer to my Type A personality’s prayers. It promised to allow me to micromanage and therefore streamline every area of my life – not just the larger events like getting our new dog or holidays but the everyday minutiae too. It’s so much more than just a book of lists, it is a whole lifestyle rehaul, apparently. And it also involves stationery, another of my passions. Ever since a childhood visit to the new phenomenon that was Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road in the early 1980s I have been obsessed by beautiful stationery. I still keep a paper diary and write letters. In today’s electronic and instant society, going old school soothes the soul.
So for the past month I have been trying out the bullet journal, making lists of every single aspect of my life, from daily to-dos to five year plans and I have been in my element. I had very high expectations and wanted to become a powerhouse of activity – more so than I already am. The very act of writing and re-writing lists apparently helps to hone your thinking and focus the brain on what is important and we all know how satisfying it is to tick off items once they’re completed. For me, the fact all the lists are indexed and contained in a beautiful hard-backed notebook only enhances the experience.
So how can a bullet journal help us writers? Well, list-making is a form of writing in itself. I have made lists of all the outstanding bits of writing I need to get done as well as what is needed to finish my Work in Progress (first started 2009!). Another list has been drawn up of possible markets for my writing. A bullet journal can help with scheduling in writing time, jotting down ideas as they occur and setting goals. But again, you can write all the lists you want but putting bum to seat and fingers to keyboard is what’s it’s all about.
If you’re interested in starting your own bullet journal then there are many tutorials on the internet. I’ve yet to branch out into colour coding my journal which is a whole new adventure, but right now I am well and truly hooked. Try it for a few weeks and see if it changes your life.