This week’s Pro Q&A features the multi-talented, multi-social-media-slayer and all-around wonderful bullet journalist and artist, Kara Benz, the creator of one of our favorite blogs, BohoBerry.com. Kara’s posts and videos include beautiful techniques, teachable-moments and inventive ideas which are often filled with thoughts of peace and gratitude. But don’t let her Zen persona distract you from her Ninja business savvy. Kara is running one of the most successful blogs and businesses in the community and is continuing to expand her interests. She has recently opened a new Etsy shop that features printables, stickers, artwork and more. Kara’s work, joy and counsel are found on almost all social media channels and in many groups on Facebook. We are so pleased and proud to welcome her to Bullet Journal for Professionals.
BJP: Kara, thank you for all of your contributions to the bullet journal community and for being a great inspiration to so many of us. For those of us in the Pro community, let’s start by having you share a little about yourself, what you do and how long have you been a bullet journalist?
KB: Thank you so much for having me, Todd!
For those of you that don’t know me, I’m the voice behind the Boho Berry Blog. In addition to blogging, I also run a successful YouTube Channel, and recently launched an Etsy shop (as if I didn’t have enough going on already!).
Before I began my online business, I was in the service industry. I worked as a server, bartender, and restaurant manager for 15+ years.
At some point I realized that I wanted to do something more purposeful with my career. I wanted to build something that I could be proud of and that would help others in the process.
Boho Berry was born out of that desire in May of 2015, and I haven’t looked back!
I first discovered the Bullet Journal system a few years ago, but wasn’t in a place in my life where I needed it. I tried it out for a month or two, but it just didn’t stick.
In August of last year, 3 months into my new blog and business, I realized that I needed a way to organize all of my thoughts and plans. I rekindled my relationship with my Bullet Journal and the rest is history. I can’t imagine where I would be without it today.
BJP: Share with us your experience, Kara, with both analog and digital planning that you’ve used and advantages of the bullet journal, from your perspective.
KB: I’ve definitely had a lot of ups and downs in life when it comes to planning. I’m actually a highly digital person, and I love apps and new software programs as much as the next person. But there really is something about putting pen to paper that allows me to express my thoughts so much more clearly than any app can do.
I’ve tried almost every planner system out there, never really sticking with one in particular until I came across the Bullet Journal.
The biggest advantage to the Bullet Journal system for me is its flexibility. If I miss a couple of days, I know that I can just turn to the next blank page and not worry about blank “wasted space” like I would with other pre-printed planners.
Also, having the ability to create my own layouts has been a huge factor in me finally sticking with one planning system. I am free to lay out my week as I see fit. If it works, great! If not, I’m free to switch it up the following week.
Being able to make small tweaks as I go and really customize my own system is the #1 reason I love my Bullet Journal.
BJP: Speaking of tweaks, what features of the bullet journal do you find are well-suited for career-minded professionals?
KB: Again, I have to emphasize the flexibility factor. There is SO much to manage when it comes to our careers, and I don’t believe there is a single pre-printed planner on the market that can handle managing all of the hats that we have to wear on a daily basis quite like the Bullet Journal can.
BJP: In regards to your website, Kara, discuss how some of the basic principles from Ryder Carroll’s initial concept of the bullet journal work or don’t work for you and any work-arounds or hacks you use.
KB: Ryder Carroll’s original concept is a great starting point. Although I’m known for adding a lot of complexity to my Bullet Journal, I constantly find myself drawn back to the simplicity of the original method.
That being said, there are two parts that I have “hacked” to work better for me.
1 – The Index
I still use the index as described by Ryder, but I’ve added in a “color index” to my pages. The color index is essentially a way for me to flip easily to pages/collections that fit within a few major categories.
Whenever I create a collection that falls into one of these main categories, I’ll color in a little square on the edge of the page. This helps me to quickly flip to a recent collection that I’m searching for without having to scour my entire index.
2 – The Calendex
The Calendex is a method of future planning developed by Eddy Hope. I always struggled with the traditional future log. As someone with a LOT of events and appointments, I needed a better way to wrangle them all.
The great thing about the Calendex is that I can write my appointment details out in real time, on the day that I make the appointment. I then simply index that page number on my main Calendex page so that I can see all of my events and appointments at a glance.
BJP: These are great hacks, Kara. Would you share with us now some of the projects that you manage for your business in your bullet journal and how you do it?
KB: I manage a multitude of projects on a daily basis for my business. So many in fact, that I created a separate “Blog & Business” Bullet Journal in an A4 sized notebook.
The larger A4 format is perfect for brainstorming ideas, creating mind-maps for projects, and planning out marketing and editorial calendars.
BJP: As we said at the beginning of this interview, you are such an inspiration for so many bullet journalists, Kara. We’re curious, where do you get your inspirations for your bullet journal?
KB: My biggest inspiration is Ryder Carroll himself. Not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for him developing this amazing system and sharing it with the world.
I’m inspired daily by Kim Alvarez, Jessica Chung and Dee Quine. These girls have been instrumental in spreading the Bullet Journal love all across the globe, and I consider it SUCH an honor to work closely with them on a weekly basis.
Of course, I can’t miss the opportunity to thank the entire Bullet Journal community. I’m constantly inspired by the sheer number of folks who are out there sharing their progress with each other on a daily basis.
BJP: Finally, as we wrap up, Kara, what would you like to see from this community of professionals?
KB: Honestly? I’d love to see more interviews along the lines of this one. It’s so fascinating to me to get a glimpse into the planning lives of other career-minded individuals. So thank you for putting all of this amazing content out there!
And we say, thank you, to the lovely and talented Kara Benz of BohoBerry.com for participating in this interview and your great advice and spirit. For those who want more of Kara’s energy, tips and plain good reading material, head on over to her blog or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube and, of course, her new Etsy shop. And after that, get back to work!