107: The Bullet Journal Method, with Ryder Carroll


Wow, this really struck a cord with me. I’ve been doing GTD for years now, but lately I almost never do my weekly review and my tasks have gotten out of control. So I bought the Bullet Journal book and I’m going to give it a try. I like the idea of writing out your tasks by hand, you have an automatic filter for what is important. Do I want to take the time to write this out in my journal? I think GTD’s emphasis on capturing everything, turns your task list into an unmanageable jumble. The weekly review is supposed to take care of that, but miss 1 or 2 and things quickly go out of control.

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I came here to say something similar. I just finished the bullet journal book and it was transformative in some way. I think it’s as @MacSparky says, it strips away some of the fluffiness. It’s also quite possible that my brain works similar to Ryder’s. I have been in the quest to an ADHD diagnosis, and I’ve been learning a lot about some of the symptoms, and one of the is object permanence. I’m really good at organizing stuff into their buckets, and once they are there…out of sight out of mind. Digital hoarding is real, and sometimes the only reviews I did completely was switching task managers.

The bullet journal is nice because you can really just start with the daily spread. I’m glad Ryder made room for the artistic people and made the distinction of actually using it. I would 1,00,000x echo to read the book and follow the journey laid out, because it gives room at the end for exploration of style.


I ordered Paper Like, the screen saved for the iPad that protects the screen & make writing on the iPad just like writing on paper. I downloaded their 12 month journal & imported it into Notability. My fav iPad app. The best of both worlds. Highly recommend this for electronic journalling.


Glad it is helping out. We really tried to focus the episode more on the “why” than the “how”, since the “how” is pretty easy.


I took a look at this journal; it’s just a PDF file, right? No tab functions or am I missing something?

Yes, I like how you talked about asking why are you doing this task? What would be the consequence if I never did this task? With GTD I hardly ever ask these questions. I don’t want to bash GTD because it has helped me a lot over the past few years, but I just think it has the wrong focus. It wants you to capture everything, but then my system easily gets overwhelmed. For example, looking at my Anytime list (my active tasks), I have 84 tasks, so this doesn’t even include the schedule and someday tasks. Now I only skipped 1 weekly review and it quickly got out of control. There is no way I’m doing these 84 tasks this week or even this month.

I love the idea that handwriting your tasks and copying them over if you still think they are worth doing is the perfect way to build friction into your system. In Things and Omnifocus, it is too easy for tasks to live forever since you have to actively remove them. In the bullet journal, the task has to be actively carried forward, so how have to decide again this is worth doing.

Another thing, is my handwriting isn’t good, so I really have to slow down to write down my tasks so they are legible. Turns out this friction is a feature, not a bug.


Here’s a nice thread with requests for minimal bullet journal instagrams.

Reddit request for simple bujo on instagram

I’m obviously missing it, but where do you download it? I went to the Paperlike site but I don’t see it there and I’m not seeing a link on the RelayFM site for the podcast.

As mentioned above, free journal from paper like. Very basic, no links, no dark mode, Sunday start only :grimacing:.

Not sure why I wasn’t seeing it on the site but thanks for the link.

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I think you nailed it with GTD: it was never designed with a digital world in mind. David Allen published the book in 2001 when everything was analog. The original genius of GTD was to capture everything to get it off your mind and then process later. Capture everything meant pen and paper or a pocket notebook.

Today, we have information and details flying at us through multiple channels and multiple devices. My digital inbox can quickly grow to 10-15 items before I have time to process it. Those tasks get filed into the system and before I know it, my task manager is a cess pool. I don’t want to go near it.

Using pen and paper again helps with the temptation to capture EVERYTHING.

The trick is to not let things drop through the cracks. This is why I have found a hybrid to be the best option. I dump things into my task manager, but each night write out the next days task list. I only look at my task manager in the evenings and during a weekly review. So far, this has worked well for me.


After a few days of using just a bullet journal I realized it wasn’t enough to capture all the things I need to keep track of. So now I am also doing a hybrid using Things plus the bullet journal. I did a full review of Things and paired it down to a really small list of projects and tasks so that it doesn’t become overwhelming. I’m using the future log in the bullet journal to park items I’m not working on now, but still want to consider.

In the morning I will look at Things and pick 3 tasks I want to do today as well as write down all the meetings I have. If I finish those 3 tasks, I will look at Things for more. I find this much better than staring at a large list of tasks and having to decide in the moment.

A few times I’ve noticed I had to copy a task in the bullet journal. After a couple of times writing the same task, I realize I’m just fooling myself, I’m never working on this thing and that’s the end of it. In the past something like this would linger in my task list for months, now that it takes effort to copy, I’m more ruthless.


@Jeremy how are you going about this?

I seem to be fighting these deamons as well and try to understand and diagnose the issues the Pomodoro time blocking seems to be ine thing that aligns my brain to focus I did not have this issue earlier in life it is so maddening

:grimacing: indeed!!

Sorry to take so long to respond @D_Rehak

I first suspected it because my wife told me she suspected it, and then I took a million online tests, which while unofficial, all said I displayed the characteristics of someone with ADHD. Then I started watching some Youtube and TikTok people who deal with and educate about ADHD and it was like someone speaking to a part of my soul.

I went to my Dr. and asked her the steps to be tested and she was really cool and referred me to a couple of places, so I called up Harbor Health (our local mental health conglomerate) and told them I wanted to be tested. I met with a behavioral health specialist, who then referred me to a psychiatrist, who had me interviewed by one of their PhD. students. From there I had to fill out some surveys, and my wife filled a survey out about me, then I went and did a test with another office that measured words, vocab., patterns, etc.

Now I am waiting for the official results. I’ll have to call them because they have been pretty awful with follow up, which is really hard because so am I. :laughing:


Thanks @Jeremy for your detailed response

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