How to declutter your mind — keep a journal | Ryder Carroll | TEDxYale

How to declutter your mind — keep a journal | Ryder Carroll | TEDxYale

Translator: Nataliia Pysemska
Reviewer: Denise RQ I believe that we are responsible for creating the moments of joy
in our own lives. We can’t take credit
for a beautiful sunrise, but we can take credit
for being there to see it. We can take credit for the decisions that we made
that allowed us to experience that moment. You decided to leave house early.
You decided to go for a hike. But making good decisions is really hard. It’s something I’ve struggled
with my entire life. When I was young, I was diagnosed
with Attention Deficit Disorder. At the time, there was not
a lot known about the condition, and there were no resources,
not to mention that there was no Internet. So the few tools that I could find
were either too rigid or too complicated. They didn’t work the way
that my mind worked. A big misconception about ADD
is that we can’t focus. In my experience, I could focus. I was just focusing on
too many things at the same time. So, over the next 25 years, I silently made it my mission
to design my own resources. Over time, I actually outgrew my ADD, but I found the methodologies
I’d developed remained relevant, incredibly helpful so I shared them
with a couple of my friends. I was really surprised to find out
that they too found it helpful. Who knew? I designed it for myself, I’d never assumed
that it would work for other people. But with that in mind,
about three years ago, I built a website and shot some videos to teach the system to others, in hopes that it might help them
the way that it helped me. I called the system “The Bullet Journal.” If you search for the Bullet Journal
on YouTube or Instagram today, you will find hundreds
of thousands of examples of how people have adopted
the Bullet Journal to help them deal with challenges
in their own lives. Those tutorial videos
have been seen over 5 million times. It’s incredible. I just wished that I’d had this knowledge
when I was that young struggling kid. That’s why I’m very excited
to be here today to share some
of what I’ve learned with you. We’re going to talk about
how to declutter your mind, how to cultivate your curiosity, and how to remain focused over time. These practices
will help you close the gap from leading a distracted life
to leading one of intention. And all begins with reflection. Studies suggest we have
over 500,000 thoughts every single day. Remember, as a kid, my biggest problem was I was focusing on way too many things
at the same time. Doesn’t that some familiar though? As an adult, that’s just known
as being busy. But being busy doesn’t mean
that you’re being productive, right? A lot of time, being busy just means you’re in a state of being
functionally-overwhelmed. And a lot of this is due to
the overwhelming amount of choices that we have to make in our modern life. Freedom of choice
is absolutely your privilege, but it’s a privilege that comes at a cost because for every one
of these choices that we make, we have to make a decision. And every decision requires us to focus. And focus costs us
our two most valuable resources: our energy and our time. We don’t like to think
about how to invest our energy and time because it’s really stressful. “What do I want to do with my life?” It’s a very overwhelming question. It’s like going shopping
when you’re super hungry but you have no idea what you want to eat. Have you ever done that? You walk in, and there is
a million different options, you’re immediately overwhelmed, so you just start picking
all sorts of random junk. Most of it will end up
in your pantry of shame. The rest will go bad in the fridge.
It’s always a waste. But you’ve vowed to do better next time as you pick up the phone
to order pizza again. Decision fatigue is a real condition,
and it can lead to decision avoidance. Rather than dealing with these thoughts, we just start stuffing them
into the back of our mental pantry until we have no more room left
to think clearly. That can cause an incredible amount
of anxiety and stress because we feel like we’re losing control. We’re overwhelmed.
We need room to think and to focus. So how do we create room? Like when you cleaning a pantry,
we have to start by taking everything out. We have to externalize our thoughts
to declutter our mind. A good way that I found to do this
is to create a mental inventory. Simply take a sheet of paper and a pen, write down the things that you need to do, the things that you should be doing,
and the things that you want to do. Holding thoughts in your mind
is like trying to grasp water — it’s nearly impossible. But by writing down our thoughts,
we can capture them clearly so we can work with them later. So now we have
this mental inventory; now what? This mental inventory will actually give you
a pretty clear picture as to how you’re investing
both your time and your energy. So the next step is
to ask yourself, “Why?” Why am I doing these things?
It’s a simple question. But you don’t have to dive down
some existential rabbit hole; simply ask yourself, “Does it matter
or is this actually holding me hostage?” We burden ourselves with
unnecessary responsibilities all the time. We’re so distracted by all the things that we should be doing
and we could be doing but we completely forget
to ask ourselves, “Why are we doing these things?
Do I even want to be doing those things?” But now we have
a mental inventory to remind us. So, for every item on this inventory,
ask yourself two questions. One – “Is it vital?” Is this item vital, this task vital;
think rent, taxes – that kind of thing. Two – “Does it matter?” Does it actually matter to you
or to someone that you love? If the answer is no
to both of those things, you’ve just identified a distraction,
and you can cross it off your list. For every item you cross off your list,
you’re becoming less and less distracted. OK, so now, your mental inventory
is divided by the things you have to do, and the rest is probably related to things
that you aspire to — your goals. The key to setting goals
is to set yourself up for success. And the best way I found to do that is to take your goals and to break them
down into small actionable projects. If you don’t know how to cook,
but you want to learn, don’t start by tackling
an incredibly complicated meal for six people. Even if you don’t make a total mess, the experience
will have been so unpleasant that you run the risk
of ruining your curiosity about cooking all together. Natural curiosity is incredibly important
because it’s genuine, it can’t be faked. These small projects allow us to cultivate our curiosities
and help them grow; maybe even help some of them blossom
into fully-fledged passions. At the very least, we learn more about ourselves,
about the things that we want. So what do these small projects look like? For one, they have to have
no barriers to entry. What does that mean? You don’t have to wait
on anybody or anything; you can get started right away. Two – they have to have a very clearly
defined list of actions and tasks. And three – it should take
less than a month to complete. If you estimate your project will take
more than a month, that’s fine. Just break it into two smaller projects. These projects don’t even have to be
part of some big epic goal. They can be self-contained micro goals. The goal really here is to be able
to indulge your curiosity, try it on for size and see if it fits
so you don’t waste time. Unfortunately, time
is not a renewable resource. You can’t make time.
You can only take time. It’s our responsibility to take the time to identify the things that interest us,
to figure out ways to pursue them because project after project,
goal after goal, we will learn what we want to eat, and we’ll have acquired all the skills
that we need to prepare a beautiful meal. We’ll go from this state
to something more along these lines. But it takes time.
And it takes dedication. Please, raise your hands if you’ve ever accomplished the goal
that you set for yourself. Congratulations. (Laughter) Now please, raise your hands again, if by accomplishing a goal
it was like a dream come true, it was exactly like you thought
it was going to be. All right. Not as many hands. Why is that? It’s because time has passed. You’ve learned new things,
your circumstances have changed; you’re not the same person anymore. This mental inventory is like a map and as we navigate our lives, we have to dedicate ourselves to a habit of keeping that map updated
with all the new things that we discover. If we don’t, our map becomes inaccurate,
and we start to go off course, we drift. And all of sudden, the distractions
start leaking back into our lives. Even if it’s only five minutes a day,
just five minutes a day, we have to dedicate
ourselves to a practice that allows us to keep
our mental inventory updated. Over time this skill, this practice will also provide you
with a lot of personal data, and that data can provide
profound insights into your life: what have you tried,
what have you not tried, what should you do more of,
what’s working, what’s not. I’ve been doing this for years, and it’s shown me just how much power
I actually do have in shaping my life. It’s allowed that young
struggling kid with ADD to stand on this stage today
in front of you. It’s also allowed this adult
to get through the speech, but we’re almost there. OK, so, to recap: reflect – declutter your mind
by creating a mental inventory, get rid of what doesn’t matter; ideate – figure out ways
to pursue the things that interest you by creating small actual projects; dedicate – get into a daily practice
of keeping your mental inventory updated. Reflect, ideate, dedicate. Rid yourself of the things
that don’t matter, so you have the time and the energy
to focus on the things that do. I’ll help you go
from leading that busy life to leading an intentional life,
to close that gap. An intentional life is the one
that you want to live not the one that you endure. The intentional life has the power to grant you more of those
beautiful moments in the sun. Thank you. (Applause)

90 thoughts on “How to declutter your mind — keep a journal | Ryder Carroll | TEDxYale

  1. I really enjoyed listening to your talk and I am a person that constantly focusing and too many things! At 36 I have spent most of my career being 'funcionally overwhelmed!' thats a great way or putting it in to words. Very practical and well defined tools to help. Thank you!

  2. Ryder is such a wonderful speaker. I love the way he connects ideas and makes them accessible. The way he's able to connect and come up with solutions to everyday problems is such a magical skill. The Bullet Journal has transformed my life entirely as it's done for millions. Thank you, Ryder for sharing your wisdom so generously. 🙂

  3. As pessoas estao perdendo a essencia e as maravilhas que o tempo tem a proporcionar quando bem admnistrado. Os prazeres familiares, alegrias com os amigos, a paz e o silencio nos momentos de reflexao que sao muito importantes para nosso desenvolvimento intelectual tanto no ambiente profissional quanto no ambiente pessoal.
    A tecnologia desenvolveu e agilizou a busca por essas informações e expandiu a criatividades de muitas pessoas pelo acesso rapido e forte dentro internet, mas nao podemos perder nossa capacidade de interação social por conta disso. Com o Bullet journal é incrivel e eficiente e o melhor de tudo te dá a liberdade criativa de escolher a forma como será lançadas a informações criando mais um ambiente saudavel e nostalgico que é quando vamos consultar nosso dia a dia, analisar nossas realizações e a satisfação da tarefa cumprida.

    Parabéns. Você ja deixou sua marca na historia.

  4. People are losing the essence and the wonders that time has to provide when well administered. Family pleasures, joys with friends, peace and silence in the moments of reflection that are very important for our intellectual development in the professional environment as well as in the personal environment.
    Technology has developed and accelerated the search for this information and has expanded the creativity of many people for fast and strong internet access, but we can not lose our ability to interact socially because of this. With Bullet journal it is incredible and efficient and best of all it gives you the creative freedom to choose how information will be released creating a healthy and nostalgic environment that is when we consult our day to day, analyze our achievements and satisfaction Of the task completed.

    Congratulations. You have already made your mark on history.

  5. I've been watching a lot of BuJo videos this month. I'll start using the February. Hope it helps me for this year. If it useful for me I'll probably use for long time. I have ADD, Anxiety and some Panic… I'm always too nervous about doing things, and I end up doing too much, but not what I should be doing. Really hope BuJo helps me on organising my time and what I have to do without losing myself all the time

  6. The Bullet Journal system changed my life! I, too, struggled with ADD, though I wasn't diagnosed until I was in my 30s. I tried planners more times than I can count, but my life just doesn't fit into tiny premade boxes.

    My bookshelves are lined with journals, where I tried to keep track of my many, varied thoughts and interests. But with no organization, it's often a major hassle to find what I am looking for.

    The Bullet Journal appeared on my radar about a year or so ago and immediately had my attention. Simple, organized, and custom made by me, for me. Perfect.

    Thank you. I can't begin to express how big an impact it has had on my life.

  7. A lot of this is just eisenhower's box with a sprinkle of Dave Allen's GTK – but I think quite inferior. What are your thoughts?

  8. As a busy student, I didn't always take the time to do my mental inventory, but now, I have my bullet journal, which help to do a mental inventory. But I was thinking about a way to improve even more this wonderful system for my ADD with focusing on the task. I focus on the task, I'm not a lunar person. The Bullet Journal has helped me to have a better focus on tasks by putting them in little pieces. Thank you Ryder Carroll, this video was very helpful. (sorry for my written English, I'm from Quebec City, Canada)

  9. saw the analog bullet journal, but a digital version for desktop? Written journals never worked for me, but ill try it, I like handwritten notes, but it just ends up with journals with lists.
    also,ADD is something you 'outgrow'. new skills yes, new tools, new habits, but the brain does not change does it?

  10. What I love about this talk is that it is valuable for people of all ages and backgrounds. This lecture contained the most concise and actionable information in just a few minutes than all of the college (including grad-courses) and professional lectures that I have experienced as an engineer, project manager, mom. I can see that Ryder truly uses what he talks about. Good job!

  11. Fantastic talk! I can totally connect with it! Since I moved to a city I struggled with focusing my attention on one book, one thing, one profession 🙂 It took years and years of gaining control and a lot of GTD practices. Just got my first BuJo

  12. While I was listening to this Tedtalk I was ordering my first bullet journal.
    Then I saw you could buy stencils for the bullet journal.
    12 minutes and 50 seconds later I've spent $100, and not heard anything this guy has said.
    So I've saved this video to an adhd playlist I created (that I'll hopefully look at tomorrow).

  13. Thank you for sharing your story and your vision. Uncluttering my mind first started with the simple To Do list. I love the Bullet Journal system!

  14. 7 people who disliked this vid: I think your hand made a sudden movement when you rated this, because the thumbs up button is a bit further to the right 🙂

  15. I love how Ryder articulates these steps in such a doable-easy way so it doesn't seem scary for us. Thank you!

  16. Wow. This is powerful Thank you for this. I've been struggling for years. It's been a while but yesterday, I just broke down not knowing what to do anymore. Feeling overwhelmed. Not being able to think straight. Could hardly breathe. I have been unconsciously journaling once in a while for years but I recently discovered the wonders of it. So I got myself a traveler's notebook and have started intentionally journaling. It helps unload all these thoughts and feelings and at the same time organize them.

    Here's a hug to everyone struggling with mental health! *hug

  17. Speaking of being distracted, the entire time the camera was on Ryder i was too busy staring At the funky wavy wood pattern in the background 😰

  18. i know of "bullet journals" for years now, but i always thought it was something for pinterest/etsy-addicted women who love colorful pens and stickers. i had no idea it was an actual organization thing with a clear system!

    it has been many years since i started using notebooks to organize my todos and notes and thoughts. but i always feel that they stress me out. it is like they keep looking at me complaining that i dont complete enough tasks. so i complete even less. it has reached a point where i feel like making a list decreases the chances of getting things done.

    reading and watching videos about the actual system makes me curious. maybe it is kind of like konmari (which i loved, then started and never completed) for my brain. which would be a good thing. i am having trouble focussing on things i really want to do and am being distracted by things others are expecting me to do. starting this method right now…

  19. My little brother introduced me to the bullet journal method a year and a week ago today ( I remember becasue 3 days and a year ago I got accepted into college) , I couldn’t get a handle on the symbol side of things for each different type of event but I like the fact that it was completely customisable becasue i could never seem to use a normal planner that was already set out….. so my planner style morphed from bullet journal, to just planner, to digital planner ( since I am very technology based person and I make a lot of mistakes) which means I can just erase it completely and not worry about having to take a pencil case with me everywhere. I never seemed to use a normal plann also becaus eit was simply so generic, so having the freedom to completely customise my own in a method (digital) that I would use and eventually find a style that works really helped. The only downside is that I do believe digital takes a lot more time to set up however I use my semester breaks to set up the next few months all at once that way o have something to do when bod but also don’t have to rush in a panic about setting the next month up when I am chockablock busy with exams.

  20. You can’t “outgrow” from ADD. Making such claims suggests that one doesn’t understand the complex neurobiological mechanisms underlying the disorder, to say the least. Great way to lose credibility within the first two minutes.

  21. I LOVE THIS MAN! I don't have any serious or diagnosed condition but I still struggle with decisions. When I found out about his method… it changed my life

  22. I need journaling/bullet journaling tools to deal with my anxiety issues and make them become non issues. Heal my anxiety, like it’s ADD

  23. New wine in old bottle… bullet journal… Just another name for a diary or a journal or a planner or organiser…I don't find anything new in that… they have been there since ages I believe…

  24. Summary:

    1. Create a Mental Inventory (map) :
    – Things you need to do
    – Things you should do
    – Things you want to do

    2. Ideation:
    For each item in inventory, ask yourself:
    1. Is it vital?
    2. Does it matter?
    If answer is no for both questions, cross that item off your list

    3. Set goals:
    Break big goals into actionable little projects, that satisfies:
    – No barriers (doesn’t depend on anything)
    – Clearly defined tasks
    – Takes less than a month (If not, split)

    4. Update your map
    5. Form a habit

    Recap: (RID)
    – R: Reflect
    Declutter your mind by creating a mental inventory. Get rid of the things that don’t matter

    – I: Ideate:
    Focus on things that interest you by designing small actionable projects.

    – D: Dedicate:
    Get into a daily habit of updating your mental invetory.

  25. I'm a really lazy person, and I procrastinate a lot. I'm also impatient and lose interest in things very quickly. Bullet Journal has caught my attention. I would like to start one for February. I hope this helps me, and I hope I don't lose interest in it or think of it as a chore.

  26. If you enjoyed this I would recommend the books 10 Days to a Great New Life, Write it Down, Make it Happen and If You Can Talk, You Can Write.

  27. 57,600 seconds in a day if you sleep 16 hours; that's equivalent to: 80 thoughts/second, given we have 500,000 thoughts a day, as the speaker indorms us – I find that very hard to believe 🤔

  28. 500k thoughts a day? being awake 16 hours a day, its 57600 seconds a day. it means having around 9 thoughts every second. not possible

  29. You do not out grow ADD. You find tools that work for you in your everyday life to help you function. Use the tools enough for them to become second nature and you have become a functional person with ADD.

  30. Bullet Journal is one of the things that need to be a part of your life. My Mentor can't stress enough on it. I maintaining my journal because he said so.

  31. "Outgrow" indeed…as he does the classic pacing back and forth that ADDers do to help focus their thoughts…i keed i keed….

    I cant knock him for his amazing creation though im sure it was (and still is) instrumental in keeping his add at a more than manageable level

  32. The fallacy that one outgrows ADHD (add is not separate) is interesting to note. He merely managed it better.

  33. that was amazing.. I have started Journaling this year but not Bullet Journal I have prepared to start that on the 1st of June but after watching this video I feel like I need to learn so the process actually works for me.

  34. U see, if u get rid of things that don't matter and aren't vital, then u get rid of hobbies. Say I've always wanted to learn guitar, well, it's not vital and it doesn't matter on the long run so I should cut that out. Say I want to learn Russian, or dancing or soccer, it doesn't matter and it's not vital. Or maybe cultivating new skills is vital in the long run, OK, them how do I differentiate which ones to pursue. Obviously not by the criteria of meaningfulness or vitality, all of those skills are are the right playing field. And this is when I discard those ideas an find a new system for organizing what I do

  35. this was, by far, one of the best ted talks I've listened to, talking about what I'm currently dealing with in my life and perfectly explaining how I can do to make it better

  36. Continuous pacing throughout the presentation. I wonder if he still has ADD?
    The words on the PowerPoint are small. Does he even know the basics of presentations?


  38. Thank you! I too have dealt with ADD for the better part of my life! Journaling has helped much… I stayed away from it for a few years, now I am picking up my journal again and focusing on the important, discarding the junk and enjoying the peace between thoughts

  39. I found it very distracting that he wouldn't/couldn't stand still; I had to shut my eyes to concentrate on what he was saying.

  40. Lovely ideas ..
    I'm a content ADHD drifter.. fighting it and at the same time winning from my Curiosity …

    Piece of advice: raise ur head. It gives a feeling of sadness.. If I am right, you 've conquered ADHD, and in return ADHD has given u abundance…
    Thank you for sharing it !!

    P.S you've a lovely smile

  41. How it is when you grow up poor…….
    Choices — to survive. Goals — to get the f___k as far away from your family as you can. How to focus — easy–survival……Overwhelming amount of choices? No problem, there are none. Need to write down intentions…..meaningless. But, since the time when I could hold a pencil in my hand, I wrote lists….poetry…journals….gossip…..on paper and pads I stole. Kept only for myself. I cannot believe that this man and his followers act as if they've invented something new! Incredible. Bullet is a catchword, maybe.?…….or should be patented? People have made these kinds of personal books for hundreds of years. Are we really in a world where they are actually A Thing? ……………this insanity has left me speechless. But since I've got more than enough money now, I sit in a good seat and watch this mad world's farcical antics.

  42. Thank you very much for your sharing. You don’t know how much I have changed, my life have changed due to bullet journal. I have changed from someone with constant anxiety to someone with clearer mind.
    I really appreciate it, and I think many People would like to thanks you.

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