How bullet journaling changed my life

As a professional organizer specializing in residential organizing here in Tacoma, I spend most of my time talking about organizing things. But today, instead of talking about stuff, I wanted to share how I organize my thoughts.

I’ve always preferred pen and paper for notes. Sure, I use google calendars and an online systems for managing my clients. I use lots of apps for this and that. But for general note taking and to-do’s I’ve always been an analog gal. I would sit in meetings or spend lunch breaks writing pages and pages of notes, tasks, and things to remember. The trouble was I never had a system for following up.

I don’t recall how I found the bullet journal method, but my first impressions were that it wasn’t for me. My IG feed was full of spreads of perfect lettering, artistic wonders, and meticulous habit trackers. At some point, I found and my attitude changed. I watched the “getting started video” and immediately set up my own journal and put it into practice.


There are three major life events that I just don’t think I could have managed without my journal, or at least not as well. I wanted to share them with you to show how using this method has changed how I function in the world.

It helped me launch my business.

I first started bullet journaling in April of 2016 when I was first getting my business off the ground. At the time, I had tasks on my google calendar, notes in my phone, and notes in a notebook covering a million things I needed to do as a new business owner. Getting everything into one notebook, with a way to organize it and find what I needed at any moment, helped me get things off the ground so much more efficiently than if I had left my notes spread over all of those other platforms. It gave me a way to integrate my new responsibilities with my existing daily life, and that made all the difference.

It helped me manage the death of my father.

I lost my father unexpectedly in March of 2017. No one is ever prepared for the death of a loved one. There is so much to manage. Navigating arrangements, paperwork, insurance, and other legal affairs is hard anytime, and ridiculously so when you’re consumed with grief. I knew nothing about how to manage the situation, but was lucky to have friends and loved ones with lots of advice. And with each conversation I pulled out my journal, turned to a blank page, and started writing. I wrote down everything I needed to do, everyone I needed to talk to, and just kept adding to it as the weeks went on. When my mother and I would sit at the dining table collecting our thoughts and managing our next step, she’d say “What’s in your notebook? What’s next?” We both relied on my journal. And while everything about that time was hard and stressful, I knew that everything that made it into my journal wouldn’t get lost. I’d be able to manage somehow. And it made it just the tiniest bit easier.

It helps me manage my dog’s health… while running a business… and managing life in general.

My two pugs, Mary and Burt.

My two pugs, Mary and Burt.

I have two older pugs, and one of them has a lot of health issues. She has 3 different vets, acupuncture appointments, special food, and lots of medications. Those medications all require checking in with one of the vets at different times for different reasons. My dog “to-do” list on any given day is often as long as my business to-dos or my shopping list. What has helped me the most while using the bullet journal is that all of these things can co-exist in the same notebook - and nothing gets lost. There is a built-in system for following up on unfinished tasks, and collecting my thoughts on different projects. At any given moment I can turn to a blank page, list a “brain dump” of thoughts and ideas and worries and tasks, and know that I have a way to follow up on them.

I’m not always perfect at managing my tasks. I’m human, and sometimes things do fall through the cracks. But the bullet journal method has allowed me to pursue goals and manage my daily life in a way that I didn’t realize was possible. I’m less stressed, and feel in control even when the tasks or responsibilities are never ending.

Do you use a bullet journal? I’d love to hear your stories. If you’d like to more about the system, you can read more here.