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Ordered Chaos: How Bujo Helps with ADHD

November 03, 2021 4 min read

An estimated 2.8 percent of the world’s adult population have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD, a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity.

While ADHD is usually first noticed and diagnosed in childhood, this is not a condition that children ever grow out of. However, it does present itself quite differently in adults than it does in children.

For instance, an ADHD child might find it impossible to sit still in class and would end up running around the room. In an adult, this desire to run around the room is now a tendency to daydream in the middle of a workday.

The symptoms are subtler, but the inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity are still very much there. This results in executive dysfunction.

Executive function is a set of cognitive skills necessary for sustained attention, self-regulation and self-control. Executive function is what gives us the ability to be organized, productive and to set goals and achieve them.

It’s almost like the brain’s very own air traffic control system and, naturally, a faulty air traffic control system results in chaos.

Those with ADHD will need to be very diligent about creating external structures and developing coping strategies to compensate for their brain’s natural lack of structure and organization.

But, in the irony of ironies, the ADHD brain tends to reject structure as it is simply not built that way.

On the upside, it is this rejection of structure that leads to flexible thinking, creativity, imagination and spontaneity. These are vital gifts that need to be harnessed, not suppressed.

So how can someone with ADHD have both structure and flexibility?

How the Bujo Helps with ADHD

Organization and time management are probably the top two areas that someone with ADHD desperately needs help with. Having a daily planner appear to be the easiest and most obvious solution to this problem.

Planners, both digital and analog, are extremely useful productivity tools. They help with time management, prioritizing, keeping track of schedule and obligations and many more.

However, traditional planners are structured chronologically, predictably and logically. In other words, traditional planners are made for the neurotypical brain. It’s just not the best fit for the ADHD brain.

Enter bullet journaling. This is a system for organization that allows for time management, prioritizing, keeping track of schedule and obligations, and everything else that an ADHD person needs help with!

The difference is, a bullet journal or bujo is untemplated and non-linear. It takes the flexibility of a blank notebook and the structure of a traditional planner and combines it in a system of organization that won’t feel too constriction on a freewheeling ADHD brain.

How the Bujo Works with (Not Against) ADHD

  • Just like a traditional planner, the bujo can provide the structure that can compensate for what the ADHD brain naturally lacks.
  • The bujo, specifically the brain dump technique, accommodates the non-linear nature of the ADHD thought process. Get the jumbled (but brilliant and valuable!) thoughts our of your head and on paper.
  • The bujo allows for enough freedom and customization to appeal to the creative ADHD brain.
  • It’s simple yet comprehensive, organized yet flexible — seeming contradictions that will resonate with someone with ADHD.
  • It offers an effective system of organization that doesn’t feel too rigid or constraining.
  • There are no hard and fast rules in bullet journaling! ADHD brains chafe at rules!
  • Just structured enough to prevent ADHD paralysis or difficulty in starting tasks or making decisions.
  • The bujo, specifically habit trackers and daily logs, encourage rhythms and routines, which is great since getting into the habit is the hardest part about using a bullet journal.
  • It helps with forgetfulness and keeps track of ideas. ADHD brains tend to have poor working memory.
  • It’s forgiving. The bujo system takes into account that we don’t always accomplish everything we set out to do. If a task doesn’t get done, it can easily be moved using the migration technique.

If you struggle with ADHD, keeping a bullet journal will give you a much-needed sense of order and direction. It will help you manage your symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity so it doesn’t wreak havoc in your life.

It’s also important to note that inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity are not exclusive to those with ADHD. Everyone has moments of forgetfulness, of getting lost in thought, of restlessness or of difficulty in focusing. The difference is in the degree to which it affects daily life and the ability to function productively.

Nevertheless, The benefits of keeping a bullet journal extend to those who don’t have ADHD.Whether neurodivergent or neurotypical, wherever you may fall in the spectrum, if bullet journaling is all new to you and you’d like to try it out, read the book Bujo 101: Everything You Need to Get Started on Your Bullet Planner. Click on the link to download it for free.

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