How Bullet Journaling Helped Me During Unemployment

Alex Boswell

The productivity tool that kept me sane

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Do you ever get in a bit of a slump? You feel like everything seems to be going downhill and all you can do is watch as the world rolls on by.

When I lost my last job, I didn’t have it for very long but it was one that I tried insanely hard to get. I’m talking about applying multiple times over three years, engaging with the company community, and even adopting their language. I was ecstatic when I finally got the job.

Turns out it wasn’t as perfect as I thought it was, the company was great, but the role didn’t suit me. I suffered from some pretty poor mental health as a result and I was forced to admit defeat.

After losing the job, I felt quite lost. I didn’t know what to do, what direction to go in, what was my purpose?

That’s when I discovered Bullet Journalling

Ryder Carroll, the creator of the Bullet Journal, calls it:

"The analog method for the digital age that will help you track the past, order the present, and design your future."

At the time, I was already into long-form journaling, mostly as a diary but also to ask myself hard questions about life. Though when I came across the ‘BuJo’, it lit a small beacon of hope in my depth of despair.

When I was reading about it, it forced me to think more wisely about my time and how I was spending it. It was showing me that I was not helping myself in my situation because simply put, I wasn’t doing anything about it.

By entering a community of incredibly creative lifestyle and productivity hackers, it felt like a support net had been cast out for me, guiding me towards living more intentionally with the time I suddenly had. To me, the BuJo would become a PA, accountability buddy, and a therapist all in one. It was just the thing I needed.

So when January rolled around, with plenty of inspiration I started my first ever Bullet Journal.

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Bullet Journalling Works With You

While I may have got a little caught up in the myriad of trackers that BuJo-ers have created, I did go for a more minimalist approach. I do appreciate the artsy aesthetic of some that you can find online but I needed mine to be a productivity tool, not a sketchbook.

The beauty of Bullet Journalling is that it works with you for whatever you need it to be, while still using a core uniform language throughout the process. For me, since I was unemployed, I needed to build a routine that was both productive in the day-to-day and aspirational in the long run.

I used the standard Future, Monthly, Daily Log format proposed by Carroll to begin, with some seasoning in the form of habit, sleep, and goal trackers. I later switched to a weekly instead of the daily log for a slightly bigger picture, though I do miss the dailies so I think I will go back to that next month.

More importantly, the reason you’ve got this far (thanks by the way!)

How has it helped?

On a practical level:

  • Bullet Journalling has helped me keep track of how often I’m applying for jobs in my habit tracker.
  • It also helps me keep track of my applications when they are moved into further stages such as online assessments, telephone and in-person interviews using my monthly or weekly logs.
  • One job that I was fairly confident with, didn’t end up being successful. So I used my journal to reflect on why as well as the feedback that was given to me so that I can improve for my next one (which is tomorrow at the time of writing, wish me luck!).

On an emotional level:

  • Actually thinking about and writing down short term, as well as long term, goals gives me something to aspire to. They are the many beacons now lit to help guide my way towards a meaningful life no matter what comes my way.
  • I’m able to keep myself accountable for these goals and figure out if they are actually serving their purpose, or if I need to refocus my energy on something more important.
  • It keeps me to an organized routine, which is something I would pretty much go insane without.

Bullet Journalling is something that helped me while being unemployed, but this productivity tool has been raved about everywhere for a reason. It is super accessible, customizable and it doesn’t take long before it suddenly becomes embedded into your everyday life.

I would encourage you if you’ve never heard of it, to look into it, and if you have but you’re hesitant for whatever reason, just do it! I promise you won’t regret it.

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Los Angeles, CA
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