List Lovers: Discover the Bullet Journal for Work

I have a problem. Some might term it an addiction. I love lists. I need lists. I have lists for everything; I have lists of new lists to make. I have whole notebooks dedicated to my lists. And recently, I’ve found I’m not alone. Buzzfeed, Reddit, and Instagram have been populating the internet with images of lists, in the name of a new trend: Bullet Journaling.

Bullet Journaling is a style of tracking your life in a notebook. The term and the system was designed by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer from Austria. Carroll struggled with focusing and needed a way to capture his ideas, so he developed this system. He has described the system as

“For the list-makers, the note-takers, the Post-It note pilots, the track-keepers, and the dabbling doodlers. Bullet Journal is for those who feel there are few platforms as powerful as the blank paper page. It’s an analog system for the digital age that will help you organize the present, record the past, and plan for the future.”Bullet Journal

So what does this have to do with the workforce? Bullet Journaling is not limited to tracking grocery lists or birthdays; job seekers, students, and employees can use a daily journal to visually track progress toward career or educational goals with lists such as:

  • To Do: Note the tasks that require your attention. Make use of the Bullet Journal symbols to track whether the tasks have been completed, migrated to another list, or scheduled.
  • Kudos: Track the compliments you receive on your work. Whether you are an employee with a yearly review coming up or a job seeker interviewing for a new job, you can pull out this list as evidence of the work you’ve done well.
  • Lessons Learned: Write down something you’ve learned that day or week, whether it is a new skill or a reflection.
  • Accomplishments: Record projects that have been completed or goals that have been reached. If possible, write down the outcome.
  • Progress: Break down projects or goals into manageable tasks, and track when each phase is completed.
  • Duties: Divide responsibilities into daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.

Communities have sprung up around the Bullet Journal trend, and among them are the Bullet Journal Professionals. Wondering why you should keep your own Bullet Journal as a workforce professional? Don’t worry; there’s a list for that.

The Benefits of Using a Bullet Journal at Work:

  • Organize and prioritize your responsibilities in one place.
  • Document growth and success in your career for reviews and raises.
  • Refer to the lists when building your portfolio or LinkedIn profile.
  • Record the ideas and plans that usually get lost in the shuffle.
  • Feel a sense of accomplishment from checking off completed tasks and projects.
  • Reflect on successes and missed opportunities.

If you’re a case manager in an American Job Center, consider sharing the benefits of Bullet Journaling with your clients. Maybe you could even offer a “Bullet Journaling for Your Job Search” workshop! If you keep your own Bullet Journal or something similar, be sure to comment and/or post images below. You can also check out our Bullet Journaling at Work board on Pinterest for inspiration.

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Color Me Stress-Free: The Adult Coloring Trend at Work

Have you noticed stacks of coloring books in the magazine racks in the grocery store? Have you seen patrons at coffee shops, book stores, or libraries with pencils or crayons spread out around them? Did you notice Twitter and Instagram were inundated with the hashtag #NationalColoringBookDay this past Wednesday? Well, if you can answer yes to any of these questions, you are likely aware of a new trend that’s taken hold across the U.S.: adult coloring books. Maybe you’re familiar with the trend; maybe you’ve even bought a coloring book for yourself. Maybe you’re wondering why we’re writing about coloring on a workforce development blog.

Coloring page from AJLA ConferenceAt the 28th Annual AJLA Conference in San Francisco, the theme was Collaborate – Create – Captivate. One goal of the conference was to encourage attendees to be creative and to develop new perspectives, like learning how to take graphic notes. Each attendee received a pack of colored pencils and a coloring and doodle sheet (download your own here). We did this not just to be cool and trendy, but also because coloring has been proven to reduce stress, increase mindfulness, and to contribute to an overall more healthy life.

As Tom Roston of ideas.ted.com writes, “…there is something calming about engaging in a familiar, low-impact activity that requires minimal thought and bestows a clear sense of progress.” The benefit of taking a quick coloring break at work is that this simple task allows you to hit pause on your self-consciousness, resetting your focus and potentially jump-starting your creative problem-solving skills (Tate). Studies have even demonstrated a clear reduction in cortisol (stress hormone) levels after participating in an art task (Kaimal, Ray, & Muniz).

While we’re not advocating for you to ditch your responsibilities at work in favor of coloring a masterpiece, we do suggest you find what works for you to reset your focus and increase your creativity. Maybe it’s taking five minutes or a lunch break to color or draw. Maybe it’s watching a funny cat video. But whatever it is, we hope you find that essential balance between work and play so that your productivity and creativity increase and any stress and anxiety decrease.