This month, we’re pleased to introduce a new ongoing series by Todd Foutz about people using their Bullet Journals on the job. It’s called Bullet Journal® for Professionals. Todd has been running Bullet Journal for Professionals as a blog and Facebook group since the beginning of this year. In July it was announced that he would be joining us at The Bulletjournalist to bring ‘Bullet Journal Pros’ with him.
At The Bulletjournalist, Todd will begin to roll out special articles for specific segments in our community of project managers, educators, marketers, HR professionals and more. This column will feature tips and advice for professionals and share unique spreads that professionals are creating in their Bullet Journals. We kick this series off with Todd’s interview of Ryder Carroll, the creator of the Bullet Journal®.
TF: Ryder, first of all, it’s great to have you sit down and chat. I want to thank you for the incredible Bullet Journal system that you have created and advanced and for being the spark that has ignited a large and connected community of Bullet Journalists. Ryder, you have been a great inspiration to so many of us in the Pro community and yet I feel like we don’t know a lot about you, the man behind the Bullet Journal. Let’s begin by having you share a little about yourself and what you do professionally.
RC: Thanks for having me! I was born in Vienna, Austria and lived there until I left for college, where I studied graphic design and creative writing. After school, I moved to New York City and have mostly been here ever since. I’m a digital product designer. I design interfaces and user interaction models for anything from web-apps to mobile games.
TF: Can you give our readers some background on how you developed your system and, more specifically, how you have built a business around the Bullet Journal?
RC: It was a very slow iterative process fueled mostly by stubbornness and frustration. I was diagnosed with A.D.D. when I was young, making school a painful experience. I just didn’t compute the way others did when it came to taking notes and learning. Existing methods and templates didn’t work for me, so, piece by piece, I designed ones that did. That collection of solutions is what you see today. Now I’m focused on creating tools that teach others how they can overcome their challenges with the Bullet Journal®.
TF: The background and history of the Bullet Journal are fascinating to me and our readers. Talk to us, though, about how the system has changed or evolved since you created it. And further, maybe touch on how your company has evolved as well.
RC: In short, the biggest change is, the purpose of the Bullet Journal®. The Bullet Journal® system wasn’t initially designed to be shared. But it was designed to be flexible, adaptable, and forgiving. Those qualities allowed Bullet Journalists to map my framework to their own lives. The impact that it’s had on some people is transformative, and I never anticipated that. It’s very humbling and inspiring. My goal moving forward is to develop better ways to teach the Bullet Journal system.
TF: The changes you discussed make me want to ask you about the changes you have seen in the Bullet Journal community. For instance, the number of news articles about the Bullet Journal and, most importantly, strong social media support has spawned so many new users and niche communities like the professional community here. What do you think when you see all of the various ways that people are using the system you developed? What does the community mean to you and the Bullet Journal?
RC: The communities are everything. They taught me how diverse the applications could be. It’s been an incredible learning experience and allows me to more clearly see what I can be doing better.
TF: Let’s transition for a minute to talk about the big “B” – Brand – Bullet Journal. I see a lot of people posting pictures of their journals in Facebook groups, on Instagram and Pinterest. Many of these people are referring to their journal as a Bullet Journal but many of them look far removed from the system you pioneered. Many of these journals that people refer to as Bullet Journals are not even using your system. What do you think of that? What does it do to the brand, Bullet Journal, when the brand name is being misused or misrepresented?
RC: I often get asked “what is the right way to Bullet Journal.” Most people come to the Bullet Journal® through the beautifully designed notebook pages they see online. Decorated books are by no means incorrect, but they also don’t provide the full picture. The Bullet Journal® is more than a system, it’s a practice that provides clarity through focus and reflection. The methods I’ve shared have been deeply considered and refined for over two decades. The brand is designed to protect and maintain the integrity of this practice, so that it can continue to provide value to Bullet Journalists.
I encourage people to make Bullet Journal their own for personal use, but it’s also important to provide accreditation. I ask this on behalf of those new to the system who may be encountering it for the first time. It’s really important for beginners to understand the basics, and start simple. It’s not a good idea to get in the cockpit before you know how to fly the plane.
TF: So what can the community look forward to?
RC: The core driver for the Bullet Journal as a brand and company is to make things that help people. Education is a big part of that. The Bullet Journal launched in 2013, and since then, I’ve fielded thousands of emails with questions. In response to that, we’ve launched the new “Help” section on the site. It’s a knowledge base designed to act as a helpful resource for both new and seasoned Bullet Journalists. I’m really excited about the launch of the new “Help section”, and hope that it serves the community well.
One resource I’m particularly excited about is the free Starter Guide. It’s a one page printable reference guide for Bullet Journaling. Originally created by Kim Alvarez, it’s been translated into over a dozen languages by volunteers from the Bullet Journal® community! How cool is that?
TF: Let’s transition now to talk about the future. I’d like to hear about your vision for the future of Bullet Journal.
RC: There is one focus for the Bullet Journal: Help as many people as possible. The beauty of the system is its flexibility. It can become whatever the user needs it to be. That’s very powerful concept, but it can also be an overwhelming one. Sometimes it’s hard to see how this practice will help with your needs as an individual.
So, the next steps are to teach Bullet Journaling through the lens of specific needs. Two examples are the Bullet Journal for Moms series and the introduction of this Bullet Journal Pros series. These are the first steps in making the Bullet Journal ever more relevant and helpful to users. Speaking of which, can you talk about what’s coming up in future posts from Bullet Journal Pros, and what excites you about the Bullet Journal?
BJP: Sure! First, thanks, Ryder, for the opportunity to bring our programming here to The Bulletjournalist. I will be hosting monthly interviews with Pros from various industries and how they use their Bullet Journal along with tips and sharing photos of spreads that our readers will find interesting. These shared experiences will provide our readers with new insights into the Bullet Journal system and how it can be enhanced for Professional use.
On the Facebook Group for Pros, you will find some great conversation about how Pros are using the system. I have been impressed by how many different professions are represented in our Pro Community including blue collar, white collar, government and even military users. One feature coming up this fall will be a series of interviews and insights into specific professions. We will be talking to groups of project managers, educators, healthcare professionals, marketing professionals and more. I’m really looking forward to sharing this new content with the readers of The Bulletjournalist, Ryder!
RC: I’m as excited as you are, Todd! Thank you for bringing the Pro Community formally to our blog.
BJP: Thank you for the opportunity and stay tuned for great things to come!
Image by: Bethany Legg