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The Essential Challenge

“The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials” – Lin Yutang

Welcome to this month’s #BulletJournalChallenge!

Lately I’ve noticed an increasing amount of Bullet Journalists embracing the simpler, more minimal approach of Bullet Journaling as Ryder presents it. The celebration of a simpler approach is fascinating and sparks questions such as, “What is minimalism and how does it relate to the Bullet Journal?”, “What is important?”, and finally, “What is essential?”

As this interest in simpler Bullet Journals grows, so do groups celebrating them such as the Minimal Bullet Journals Facebook group and its corresponding Instagram account. In discussing what minimalism means as it relates to the Bullet Journal, members of the group generally agree with this statement that Art G. offered to describe it as “the minimum amount of effort for the maximum satisfaction with your journal.” What this means exactly varies for everyone. Does this mean that you work best with a simple black pen? Great! If you add a touch of color to help motivate you, then that’s great as well! Do you need a little more structure to help you visually distinguish information? Go for it with some simple lines. It’s about doing what works best for you.

Figuring out what works best for you takes some experimenting and patience. It’s about asking yourself what’s important and then using your Bullet Journal to help you organize your thoughts. Sometimes this means making collections for all sorts of things. I’ve noticed that a lot of the time these collections are great to make just once or twice as a way to sort through your thoughts, but they’re not as essential as we may make them out to be. Sometimes these collections are meant to be short-lived, but they were great to try out because they helped you uncover what you needed to get out of them. But, are they essential to your short- and long-term goals? More often than not, I find that some of the most important collections are transient. These collections are highly useful at a very particular point in time. Discovering this is most often done with the process of migration when you’re reviewing your collections and open tasks to gauge what is still important and relevant to your immediate life and interests. Sometimes seeing an idea someone else, or many someone elses, are using makes that idea seem important, but I urge you to ask yourself, “is this essential in my life?” Maybe you need to try it out to see for yourself. Perhaps that idea isn’t right for you right now, but may prove more useful at some other point in your life.

Discovering what is essential to us with our Bullet Journals is an ongoing process. It’s one of the main things that makes the experience of the Bullet Journal so wonderful because it grows with us and adapts to every stage of our life. One of the ways to figure out what’s essential is by paring back down to basics and slowly adding ideas back in as we find them necessary. One of the ideas that struck me from reading Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, was the concept of Weniger aber besser, which translates to Less but better. He explains that it’s not about “doing less for the sake of less” but that it’s about “making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at your highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.” When you remove the inessential, you open the door to what truly deserves your attention and how you can simplify to make time for those activities.

As we tip-toe into being officially halfway through the year, it’s worth asking yourself what’s essential to you to help streamline your system.

Questions to help you think about what’s essential to you:

– What have you learned about what works for you?
– What do you enjoy doing?
– What are some ideas you’ve tried that weren’t essential to you?

Please share in the comments below and discuss with each other what you think is essential to you for a chance to win an official Bullet Journal notebook. If you share on social media, please tag with #BulletJournal #BulletJournalChallenge and #July to participate in this month’s challenge.

Congratulations to Dorothy V. for winning last month’s challenge!

About the Author:

Kim Alvarez is the creative behind Tinyrayofsunshine.com, where she writes about the Bullet Journal, productivity, planning, and other creative pursuits. She runs a sunshiney Etsy shop with stationery goods that will bring a smile to your face at tinyrayofsunshine.etsy.com

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