20 January 2019

Book Review: The Bullet Journal Method

Carroll, Ryder. The Bullet Journal Method. New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2018.

The Bullet Journal MethodThe Bullet Journal Method

Unless one lives fully disconnected from the internet (which might not be bad), one will come to The Bullet Journal Method with some preconceived notions. I did… which is why it took me a while to write this review.

I wanted to give this book an objective, fair review. That required blocking out the hype and hoopla about Ryder Carroll’s methodology and focus instead on Mr. Carroll’s methodology and the text of the book. I’m certain Mr. Carroll would find this necessity of approach both hilarious and mildly disturbing.

If you require a summary of the methodology, visit the website. There’s also no need considering the social media saturation. If you want a solid interview with Mr. Carroll, go here.

Instead, I attempted to answer a couple of questions.

First, with the volume of information readily available, is it worth buying this book? After all, the cover price is $26.00 USD.

Second, is Mr. Carroll’s methodology really the panacea for our distracted, overworked and overwrought times?

Mr. Carroll’s system needs only analog tools which can be as inexpensive as one likes. This requirement is the door through which one must enter in order to progress. And for those of us who have already begun the shift back towards more analog and less digital, we know Mr. Carroll is right.

What impresses me most about the book is Mr. Carroll’s voice. He knows what is wrong with the age in which we live. But he does not portray himself and his method as societal saviors. He is a human being sharing his method of coping with his medical disorder. He does not preach. In fact, there are times one senses Mr. Carroll still can’t believe his method has grown into a phenomenon. This is most evident in the volume of quotations found in the text. There were numerous times I wished these had been pared down as they sometimes get in the way of the author’s voice. Mr. Carroll does not need authorities” to strengthen his work. Mr. Carroll is the authority.

Is there something here for everyone? I believe so.

Those in need of a fresh start at organizing their lives and coping in our distracted age would benefit from committing to the method as presented by Mr. Carroll before refining their individual Bullet Journal approach.

Those with systems already in place won’t find everything necessary or even necessarily new. However, one will find valuable tweaks and ideas which can increase clarity and intent. I am a committed GTD’er to the point that the process is habit. Moving action items and ideas into Collections” (lists) is nothing new for me.

But, I’ve embraced Rapid Logging as a way to capture information, observations and events throughout the day. The result is faster, more efficient note taking with little to no friction. The ability to review everything from the day as part of my evening reflection has been critical for learning from that day’s events and planning for the day to come. This improvement alone was worth the cover price of the book.

As for those meticulously pretty Instabook pictures of other people’s BuJos,” Carroll is appreciative of these works of art but emphasizes beauty isn’t necessary.

Mine certainly isn’t. It is utilitarian… minimalist… workmanlike… which is a reflection of how I work and who I am. It’s integrated into a Daytimer, my trusted organizing tool for almost 30 years. A series of blank, seven hole punched, half letter size pages works just as well as any other paper and allows me to arrange and rearrange pages as I wish. This stems from my dislike of Carroll’s indexing methodology. That part of the system doesn’t work for me. And Carroll readily admits in the book that there are portions of the system that may not work for some.

Is the Bullet Journal going to solve world hunger?

No. But if it provides you with even a single way of finding clarity in this distracted and chaotic age, then your money will have been well spent.

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