I struggle with depression.
There are good days and bad days, which usually occur in clusters. During a period of good days, I’m on top of the world and can do all kinds of productive and interesting things. I was raised under the philosophy that if I’m not working my ass off, I’m lazy, so I push myself to continually stay busy.
Half of the time, I can get all kinds of shit done.
The rest of the time, depression takes over and all I can do is stare at my to-do list without actually doing any of the things on my list. This causes anxiety, which makes me feel worse. It’s a nasty catch-22.
In March 2018, the World Health Organization reported that over 300 million people struggle with depression. This means that out of 100 people, about 7 of them have to deal with depression on a regular basis. It may not seem like a lot of people, but it is the number one cause of disability.
Bullet Journaling has become HUGELY popular over the past few years, and along with its simple method that helps people organize their lives, there have been countless studies proving that writing is a beneficial exercise for people who are managing depression.
Like hundreds of others, I fall into both groups, being a bullet journaler with depression.
I recently reached out to a group of Bujo friends (people who Bullet Journal.) When I asked what they suggest to make the to-do list more manageable in this situation, I was overwhelmed with helpful ideas and we had a lot of great discussion on the subject. The ideas shared were simple and totally doable. In fact, I found these ideas too good to keep to myself.
I have a habit of continually cramming all kinds of stuff into a single day as if every day is one of those highly productive days. I usually give myself so much stuff to do that it’s not practical to even think about getting all of it done, even on a moderately good day…and then I feel extremely guilty when I can’t complete them.
During a string of bad days, however, I feel guilty about overdosing on couch time. This, along with the anxiety I mentioned above, makes me feel lazy and worthless (and like I’m taking advantage of the rest of my family because I’m not doing my share of the housework.) I’m aware these negative feelings continue the downward spiral. I’m working on changing my perspective and attitude about allowing myself to take a little time off to rest or do self-care.
It’s a process.
Before I discovered the bullet journal, I made to-do lists on index cards, crossing items off as I finished them. At times, I had a stack of partially completed index cards to manage, and keeping track of these cards with duplicate tasks was a project in itself.
My Bullet Journal tremendously helped with productivity on good days. I can keep track of scheduled meetings and appointments, manage my ambitious to-do lists, make notes about creative projects I’m planning and/or working on, as well as stay on top of everything else I cram into my life. Bullet Journaling has completely changed my life.
If you are familiar with the Bujo, I bet you also saw how it changed how you get things done, and how much easier it is to stay on top of all the stuff in your head.
If you are not familiar with Bullet Journaling and would like to learn more, here’s an overview of what a Bullet Journal is and how it works. Many people who use a Bullet Journal refer to it as a Bujo, and I prefer to use that term here as well.
In my quest to put an end to the unfinished to-do list anxiety and to figure out how to GSD (get shit done) that has to be done when I’m having a week of bad days, I started to examine my current Bujo habits.
I found that I was constantly migrating a lot of stuff that has to get done or going back in time to work from a Daily that was 2 weeks old. Stuff would be late, forgotten, incomplete, and it was just like life back in my index card days. Not good.
In a traditional Bujo, for someone who doesn’t struggle with depression or some other situation that prevents them from being productive, the rule is that migrating a task forces you to consider how relevant it is, and if it’s not worth doing, you eliminate it from your list. This is fine for many people, but not an option for me.
There are untouched things I absolutely HAVE to do, and delegating them to others isn’t an option (for example, two big items currently on my to-do list include making an eye appointment to get a new glasses prescription, and I need to update my social security card with my new last name.) These are absolutely must-do items, so it’s not like I can eliminate then after migrating a few times.
I recently reached out to a group of Bujo friends (people who Bullet Journal.) When I asked what they suggest to make the to-do list more manageable in this situation, I was overwhelmed with helpful ideas and we had a lot of great discussion on the subject. The ideas shared were simple and totally doable. In fact, I found these ideas too good to keep to myself. When I wrote out all of the ideas and commentary, it was a 9-page Word document.
If you struggle with depression or some other situation that makes it difficult to tackle a daily to-do list, perhaps you may find these ideas helpful as well.
I’m going to break it into manageable chunks, sharing one idea per post. There are 13 excellent tips, posted weekly, so please bookmark this page and check back every Monday for the next tip. You can also follow me on Facebook where you will see new posts as soon as they’re published.
Need to get caught up on this series? All of the published posts on this subject can be found under the tag “Bujo Tips.”