Mark is a bullet journaling enthusiast who runs an Instagram community dedicated to the craft of journaling. Specifically, the "Men Who Bullet" account encourages men to become more involved in creative activities like starting a bullet journal.
To learn more about Mark's background and his passion for journals, we interviewed him. Here's our discussion:
Can you tell us about how you discovered the craft of bullet journaling?
After years of feeling unfulfilled by different digital tools to try and organize myself at work, I decided to start to explore other options. A friend of mine told me about the Bullet Journal method when it first came out, and I was immediate like, no, that’s way too much to have to remember.
I spend the next 6 months trying different things with no success. So I decided to go ahead and give the Bullet Journal Method a try. That was 6 years ago, and I haven’t stopped using it since. I love trying new tools and technology, but my bullet journal will always be it.
Take us into your personal use of a bullet journal. Do you consider it a practical tool, a creative release, or both?
I use my Bullet Journal primarily for work. I keep my notes, projects, and ideas all inside that one journal. I have been using this method for 6 years and it’s so flexible in how it works that as my role changes, or my job responsibilities change, it can change with me.
I do add creativity into my journal with stamps, inks, and some decoration. I call it minimalist with a twist. One of my Instagram followers actually described it as that. I love stationery. I have a huge collection on notebooks, pens, and ink and I love to incorporate my enjoyment into my journal while making sure that it’s very functional. I have some fun journals where i try new ideas and experiemcent with stationery, but those are just fun ones when I just want to have some fun.
What kinds of spreads do you make use of on a regular basis?
I am a heavy user of weekly spreads for work and collection pages. Weekly spreads allow me to get the big overview of a week and assigned tasks to days. I can also add meeting and events to those pages too. On those same pages I keep a daily rapid log of meetings, notes, and tasks. I love to experiment with these layouts and that’s what you will see on my Instagram account and Youtube Channel.
You're the creator of the @menwhobullet account on Instagram. Can you tell us what inspired you to create the account?
When I first starting researching about Bullet Journaling, I wasn’t seeing a lot of inspiration for how I wanted to try to take it on. Everything was very designed and didn’t all feel really functional to me. I also didn’t see a lot of guys in the community. So I thought that I could be an account that could both share my own work and help inspire others that maybe felt the same way as I did about journaling.
You've also created a podcast and website. Can you tell us how you manage to balance these various activities and your personal life? Do you think that journaling helps you to balance different aspects of your life?
I have a bad habit of getting an idea into my head and then wanting to execute on it right away. The podcast was the result of an email promotion for an easy way to publish a podcast. I have a background in radio broadcasting, I was a radio DJ in my early career) and I knew how to edit and record from my Youtube videos, so I just made it happen. My background is also in design, so I had a logo, feed, profile, and my first episode in 2 days. I tried to be consistent with it, but that, along with my instagram, youtube, and my full time corporate job, it all got too busy.
I use a few different tools to try and help organize all the things I am trying to do. I use a planner from Antou, that has some neat planning templates to help with video and podcast scheduling. I keep all my running ideas in there too. It’s my 1 go-to-spot for all things creative now. I fit in my bullet journal, video, and podcast time early in the morning or in the evenings after work. I do my best to keep those 2 things separate because I can easily go off on a creative exploration with an idea, and I dont want that happen during my work day.
It’s not a perfect mix, and sometimes I feel very overwhelmed by everything I have put onto my own plate - but I love creating and sharing. I tell myself that this is just a hobby, which sometimes also feels like a full time job. I don’t think that I will ever be in a spot to take on content creation full time, so that helps me prioritize what I need to do and when I need to do it.
Some bullet journal users have reported benefits of journaling, including potential mental health benefits, which is especially relevant since mental health is a topic not always spoken about among men. Do you think that more men should try creative activities like journaling to help manage their mental health?
I think that guys, or anyone really, should only take on creative activities if they think it will be fun and positively mentally challenging. If you get easily frustrated because something doesn't look perfect, it is going to have a negative effect on your mood and disposition. I think everyone should try something once and make the choice if it’s for you or not.
I find creating in my bullet journal to be fun. I enjoy thinking out a new spread idea to help me tackle a problem at work. I love checking off a task when its done, or adding it after it’s done just to get that satisfaction of checking it off. I want to be productive in my endevors and I want to have fun while i do it. And for me, this is the perfect mix.
For a true novice looking to start a journal, where do you recommend they start?
I always recommend starting at the source. BulletJournal.com is the go to place for all things Bullet Journaling. All the resouces you need for the true to form method are going to be there. And Bullet Journal has been putting out some great content recently too!
Then I would recommend heading to my YouTube Channel! I joke, but also not really. I have been trying to focus my content on work productivity and having fun and appreciate for stationery and pens. If I come across something that’s cool, I want to share it with you. I also have 2 videos specific to starting in a journal. One is a beginners guide that shows you how to set up a bullet journal in any notebook, in this case a lined notebook. And I have a shorted 15 min set up that is to the point, no frills, and you are good to go with your journal in no time. I also have a lot of flip thorughs of my old journals so that people can see what i looks like in there and check out my approach and thought process.
Finally, we love to ask our interviewees this question: what's your go-to stationery item?
Oooo, this is a hard one, but I would have to say an Archer & Olive Notebook, I love their paper and designs. And for the pen of choice… this is hard too, but I would have to say my longest running go to is an uniball Signo dx .38mm pen. They are not very expensive, they write great, and are super reliable. I have so many pens I love and am really loving more and more, but at this point - those are my go to items.
Thank you to Mark for this interview. Be sure to follow him on Instagram.