How Ryder Carroll Does Bullet Journal

How Ryder Carroll Does Bullet Journal

How the inventor of the online phenomenon gives every entry the “opportunity to be a better bullet.”

Ryder Carroll spent much of his young life inventing ways to work with his attention-deficit disorder, and the result has been a product that now fills many boards on Pinterest. The 37-year-old graphic designer from Vienna created Bullet Journal after years of trial and error. He uses it twice a day every day to organize his tasks, reflect on his progress, and in general, be an awesome human being. In his blog, Ryder encourages people to do Bullet Journal their way, but how does the OG Bullet Journalist use his own invention?

1. Keep it simple

First off, Ryder cares “very little about aesthetics.” He views Bullet Journaling as a task that should take up the “least time organizing” so he can spend “the most time pursuing things that matter”—which for him means finding new ways to build his Bullet Journal business! For the Bullet Journalist, “Creativity is in the content.”

2. Your journal, your design

Keep in mind, Ryder is a graphic designer, so he isn’t knocking people who like go all in creating those beautiful, pinnable Bullet Journals. “I love that the simple act of illustrating can be valuable to” bullet journalists, Ryder says—it’s just not his thing. And seeing as he designs for a living, it maybe makes sense he should want to keep his work-life and personal-life separate. Could you imagine being a bus driver who spends his spare time driving cross-country?

3. Try using it like a computer

Ryder’s idea behind the simplicity of Bullet Journal comes in part from his background in digital design. Designing user interfaces, he looked for ways to implement “quick iterative problem solving.” Ryder treats his Bullet Journal just like any other tool: the more practical the better.

4. Be reflective

When reflecting, Ryder likes his Bullet Journal to serve as a “paper mirror.” He can flip back and see all his progress and mistakes from the weeks and months before. Looking through, he asks himself why he still makes bullets for certain tasks. If he feels the bullet and its task have outlived their usefulness, he stops doing it. Every day is a new day to focus on what’s important.

5. Bullet in the morning; bullet in the evening

Ryder starts his day with a five-minute Bullet Journal session, and he ends his day very much the same. First, he likes to empty out his head of all the ideas he has and capture them in writing. He reviews what he’s done the past few days, asking himself whether the tasks are relevant still. The evening looks something similar, Ryder taking a mental inventory of what he has done and what he plans to do tomorrow. All in all, he spends about 10 minutes Bullet Journaling. That’s bullet speed.

6. Use it for you

Ryder intended Bullet Journal as a vehicle of self-exploration and self-journaling. This is the perfect case of “Do as I say, not as I do.” Make your BuJo “a basic framework that helps you figure yourself out on a regular basis,” Ryder says. “Maybe it’s health, contentment, religion, whatever you feel you want to get better at.” Ryder mentions gratitude tracking as an example. The “more intentional about gratitude tracking” your are, the more it “your attitude gets better, and it’s easier to see opportunity or kindness.”

7. Engage in the community

When it comes to Bullet Journal, Ryder is all in. “What I want to do, I believe in it fully,” he says, and he wants other people to believe in it too. Ryder loves that a community has come up, and he wants to focus on bringing together Bullet Journalists from all different walks of life. “I’ve never been a doctor or mom, so I try to expose those people to the community at large,” Ryder says. Experience is valuable, and sharing it lets everyone thrive.

8. Give your lists purpose

Ryder doesn’t do much traditional journaling. Bullet Journal tracks his habits, and he writes out his feelings on occasion, but he goes over his activities every day and night to check that they’re still relevant. Devote time in your day to think about why you think what you’re doing is important so you keep that drive for the things that matter.

9. Make the most of opportunity

Bullet Journal has been around for five years and is a collection of solutions to productivity that, for Ryder, become supercharged when applied to the things he loves. Ryder sees in every entry the “opportunity to be a better bullet.” Going forward, adjust your journal to make it more what you intend for it. At the end of the day, you are interested in things you love and see a purpose in. So figure out what that purpose is, and fire away.

Cover Image Credit: Bullet Journal

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.

You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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I Am 9,170 Miles Away But I Still Choose To Stand In Solidarity With The People Of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has its own flaws and imperfections, but what I've learned is that even on our darkest days, no one can take away faith and solidarity.


April 21, 2019. Easter Sunday.

I was devastated to wake up on Sunday morning to a series of missed calls and texts from friends asking whether my friends and family were affected by the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. I was shocked to read all of the news about the bombings in various churches and hotels that I'd visited on my trips to Sri Lanka. I remember wandering around the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in middle school hoping to get a glimpse of internationally famous cricket players like Lasith Malinga and Kumar Sangakkara.

Now, this hotel where I associated happy memories of staying up until 5 a.m. to watch the World Cup and running around with my brother is one of the 6 locations in Sri Lanka that was bombed on Easter.

Sri Lanka is a country that most of my peers have never heard of. It brings a smile to my face when I'm able to talk about the amazing experiences I've had on this island nation. I'm able to talk about how I almost got run over by an elephant during a safari in Yala National Park, how I took surfing lessons at Arugam Bay, and how I climbed all the way up Mount Sigiriya when I was 4 years old. All of these experiences have shown me the beauty of the people, the nature, the animals, and the culture of Sri Lanka. While there is so much to appreciate, there is also so much to acknowledge about its recent history.

In 2009, the 30-year civil war finally came to an end. I remember going to my parents' room when I was nine, and watching live streams of people in the streets celebrating that the war had finally ended. This was a war that caused the majority of my family to flee the country to avoid the violence and destruction. Now, almost ten years after the war ended, there was a coordinated attack on churches and hotels that led to the murder of over 300 innocent citizens and wounded around 500 people.

Sri Lanka isn't perfect, but it's roots and culture have made me who I am today. Even though I wasn't alive during the majority of the war, it has left a lasting impact on my family. My mom had to go by herself to Russia, without any prior Russian language experience, to avoid being in the middle of the war. She now speaks English, Russian, Tamil, and Sinhalese. I had other family members who fled to places like New Zealand, Nigeria, Canada, and Australia.

Because of the war, I have family all over the world who can speak Mandarin, Arabic, Dutch, Malay, French, Russian, and so many more languages. Being Sri Lankan has given me an international perspective on the world around me and has given me the insight to look past cultural differences. Instead of going to shopping malls with my cousins like my friends in the US do, I meander through bazaars in Singapore and Malaysia or go dune-bashing in the United Arab Emirates.

When people look at me, they never think that my last name could be Paul. Shouldn't it be something that is hard to pronounce or something much longer? My last name dates back to 1814 when missionaries from Williams College traveled all the way to villages in the Northern parts of Sri Lanka to share God's love. My great great great grandfather studied in one of the many Christian schools and his faith has been passed down from generation to generation. No matter how dark things got during the war, faith is what kept my family going.

Though Sri Lanka has faced adversity over the years, it continues to grow stronger. Through violence, hurricanes, government corruption, and internal conflicts, Sri Lanka continues to push through. Sri Lanka has its own flaws and imperfections, but what I've learned is that even on our darkest days, no one can take away faith and solidarity.

So today—9,170 miles away—I stand with the people of Sri Lanka.

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