I created Bullet Journal, because I needed it. Growing up with ADHD way before resources were readily available, I struggled tremendously with distraction, procrastination, hyperactivity, overwhelm, and from the ensuing stress, anxiety, a loneliness from being seen as the "dumb kid."
I dedicated myself to finding and developing tools that would help me become what I was not: focused, organized, and productive. I did this using the only tool I had at the time: pen and paper.
Beginning in my youth, I spent years testing and iterating different tools and systems. Most didn't work. I kept going though, because there really was no other choice. I had to find something that could help me change the dismal future many of my teachers, peers, and even family members had prophesied for me... given my "disabilities."
What I never expected was that I would find something, and it would change not only my life, but that of countless others around the world.
As I was looking for things to help me, every so often my persistence was rewarded with something that worked. Then another. Then another. Over then next twenty years, I assembled a powerful toolkit that helped me pay attention, focus, get organized with my work. Gradually, I transformed into something no one expected, least of all me: a high achiever.
Raise after raise, promotion after promotion, my accomplishments started stacking up. I became the youngest art director at one of the biggest fashion brands in the US. I started successful companies without any outside investment. I was the creative head of design agency in NYC, and pitched and won contracts with two of the biggest software companies in the world worth millions of dollars. The strange thing was, no matter how much I accomplished, I didn't feel any better. All this accomplishment felt empty.
Everything changed one day, when I had hit a professional highpoint. I checked a box in my career that should have brought me tremendous joy, at at least a major sense of great accomplishment. Instead I felt nothing. Then I felt sadness...then fear. If this doesn't make me feel good, what will?! What do I do? Then, in a blinding moment of clarity, I realized that I was missing the answer to a fundamental question: What do I want?
I had spent my entire life doing what other people told me I should do, I should want. I never stopped to think about what I actually wanted. No wonder that most of my work felt meaningless.
That's when I had a thought: What if I take this method that had been so powerful at working better, and used it for being better? After all, a good productivity system improves your focus, organization, and action. My system had been incredibly effective at helping me do just that for running projects, building products and companies. What if I used it for the most important project of all: my life?
What if I used it as way to learn about myself? What am I thinking? What am I feeling? What do I truly value? What brings me closer to those things, and what distracts me from them? So I did. I structured my system to help me practice this form of self-inquiry and I discovered the missing piece: The Why.
True productivity starts by becoming aware of Why we do what we do.If we don't believe in why we're doing what we're doing, the fruits of our labor, the labor itself, can feeling meaningless. Since most of our lives will be spent at work, this means that most of our lives can risk feeling meaningless if we work without a Why.
This realization shifted my system from a process-driven approach to life, to a purpose-driven one.The process-driven approach focused on the what and the how. What is the best way to do this project? How can we reduce the amount of time it takes?
The purpose-driven approach focused on Why. Why does this get to take our time...at all?! This shift resulted in me working on far fewer things, but the things I did work on finally felt meaningful.Because I was less distracted by meaningless busy work, I was also able to make much more progress towards the areas of my life that mattered. This new approach made me even more productive!
Eventually this method came to be known as the Bullet Journal Method. I created it because I needed it, and I continue to use it because I still do. The difference is that I began using it to essentially become a different person, whereas I now use it to cultivate who I am in every moment. How? By using it as a framework for living an intentional life, one where I can align my actions with my values in a way that's sustainable, compassionate, creative, playful, and effective. That's what it means to me to be mindfully productive.
The most incredible thing about this, is that I've seen it do for others what it has done for me. Over the years, I've watched the Bullet Journal method transform the life of countless people around the world. My hope is that it can do the same for you.