Procrastination is a weakness of mine. If something needs done, but I don’t want to do it (for instance, vacuuming), I will put it off until the last possible minute…which is usually when company is coming. But I also love to make To Do lists. To Do lists are like porn for procrastinators like myself who have an unhealthy obsession with notebooks and pens. To Do lists are the promise of getting things done, being caught up, not having anything hanging over your head. Getting things done feels great, and so it follows that making plans is fun.
Like the man says in Tremors, “We plan ahead. That way, we don’t do anything right now.”
A few months ago on Kit Dunsmore’s blog, she mentioned bullet journals. Intrigued, I went to bulletjournal.com and read all about it. The various symbols and bare-bones method looked way too complicated to me. I’m not interested in complicated systems.
Then in August on the Smart Bitches Trashy Books blog, they listed more details about how the bullet journal is actually used and so I did some more research…and quickly became obsessed.
Basically, a bullet journal is a personalized planner. You start with a blank notebook and a pen, then fill the notebook with whatever type of calendar is useful to you and load it with events, tasks, and notes. You can set up collections, which are basically lists of projects or reminders, etc. You can journal in it, doodle, budget…you know, whatever you want. That’s the personalized part.
I watched a few You Tube videos, then grabbed a blank notebook from the pile and started my first bullet journal.
I got this lined Harry Potter journal on a whim at Barnes & Noble. You can also find it on Amazon here.
I used it for a few weeks, mostly trying to figure out how I wanted it to look. I would flip to random pages and set up spreads and collections. I tried different types of trackers and handwriting.
I tried not to worry about my shaky handwriting. And I tried to ignore the lines and unnumbered pages.
And then I found Boho Berry on You Tube, and followed it to her blog. She’s very much an artist with exquisite handwriting, and although I am neither of those things, I realized that if I was going to use my bullet journal consistently, I needed to make it interesting to myself.
So I drank the Kool-Aid and got a new, fancy, dot grid, Leuchtturm notebook:
Then I loaded up on fancy supplies. I halfway wonder if I’m not just using the bullet journal as an excuse to feed my notebook and pen habit…
After a month of trying different styles and layouts, messing with my handwriting and doodles, I feel pretty good about my bullet journal. The best part is that I actually want to use it. The fact that it’s mine and I’m allowed to spend time making it pretty helps.
One of the first things I did was a pen test to see how everything looked and how badly they bled through to the back of the page. This told me that I shouldn’t use my beloved fountain pen or the Flair felt tip pen. Sharpie pens and the Faber Castell artist’s pens are my favorites. They barely bleed through even when you color things in, and they’re still nice and black.
A calendex to show you at a quick glance what’s coming up in the next few months. Great for keeping track of tasks that happen every few months.
My layout for the month of October. People with children and friends will want to give themselves more room than this to put events and appointments. Fortunately my October is easy-breezy so far.
Dailies are the bread and butter of the bullet journal. The night before, I set up the following day. I’ll put the sunrise/sunset times, the weather, a list of tasks I need to accomplish and any appointments. And then on the day I can add tasks, notes, track what I’m eating and drinking, and because I want to I use a daily sketch prompt app so I can add a drawing to each day.
To keep track of recurring tasks, I use this:
Each drawing represents something I should do at least once a month. Balance the checkbook? I get to draw another doughnut. Clean the bathrooms? Spaceship gets another alien. When I’m making my daily task list, I’ll check this to see what needs done. And then I look at this:
Each day has things that need done every week on that day. I imagine I’ll add things to these planets as time goes on.
And of course there are things that need to be done every single day. I don’t want to rewrite that list on each daily spread, and so I use this:
A lot of people call this a habit tracker, but I think of habits as being bad. These are things that I want to get done every day, and so I call this my accountability tracker. This month I’ve added a touch of color to the rows and columns. If I do every single thing every single day, at the end of the month this should be a lovely black and orange plaid. That’s good motivation for me to do my exercises every single day.
You could also think of the bullet journal as your brain on paper. I’d rather write something down than try to remember it. That’s where collections come in. Here are a few of mine.
For those days when I’m feeling anxious or depressed or sick, I have this handy list of favorite, comforting movies. I get decision fatigue, and this way I can just randomly point at this list to choose a feel-better movie to watch.
And this is a list of all of the paper books still crowding the shelves. Once I read them, they’ll either be kept and cherished, or they’ll go to the Goodwill. And since we’re moving in a few months, the more I can cross off and potentially get rid of the better.
Other spreads I’m using include a blood pressure log, blog post ideas, task list for my long gestating novel, brain dump for the pending move, diet and exercise logs, costume ideas, languages I want to learn, places I want to visit. You get the idea.
Even though it took me awhile, I’m glad I finally got onto the bullet journal bandwagon. It’s list-making candy and I’m actually getting things done. Earl would be proud of me.