Back in late August/early September, I began keeping a bullet journal and boy howdy, am I ever glad that I did.
I’ve always been partial to loosey-goosey, no lines required journaling/habit tracking/goal- and list-making. I toyed around with oodles of different layout styles in simple, blank paged notebooks from about grade five on and finally resorted to using one of any number of sketchbooks I had on the go for organization as I always had one with me anyway. It was as impractical a solution as it was inelegant, but it lent some kind of much-needed structure to the life of a very disorganized teen with ADHD that included LOTS of unicorns.
In adulthood, I discovered Lee Valley’s portable office, which is absolutely gorgeous and nicely organized and made me feel very fancy and professional, indeed. What’s more is that my dad was happy to indulge me with the updated inserts every year. Somewhere along the line, I fell out of the habit because life + it got kinda depressing scheduling things into little boxes. There was no room for creativity or spontaneity.
My first introduction to the notion of the bullet journal was through my cousin, Tiffany. She had gone in head first and with great gusto and was even facilitating bullet journal workshops shortly thereafter. I followed some of the links she posted about it on facebook and made the same mistake that many do when first introduced to the BuJo (as the cool kids, like Tiff, call it) and fell into the bullet journal Pinterest and Instagram rabbit holes (click those links and you’ll see what I mean – people do outstandingly gorgeous stuff with their journals).
My word, but everything was so pretty and fancy and organized and really, really intimidating. I decided immediately that a bullet journal was not for me (but continued to creep the Pinterests and the Instagrams because SO MUCH PRETTY).
A little while later, my friend, Désirée, decided to jump on the BuJo bandwagon and posted this very helpful why-for and how-to article about the system. I was a changed woman. THAT looked like something I could do.
I did a little more research and found this article (that ruffled my feminist feathers a wee bit) that made it seem even more doable.
The very next day I went out in search of an appropriate vessel into which I could inflict my organizational will and came home with mon kit:
J’adore calling it “mon kit” because illicit drugs.
In a nutshell:
- Large, plain (because lines are for chumps, yo) Moleskine notebook
- A cute, little pencil case with a schmaltzy inspirational quote on the back that I never look at, but it works so nicely with the notebook because it’s exactly the same length of the notebook and I can use the notebooks elastic to connect them, toss the lot in a bag and go. Like, they were meant to be:
- Totally just for show calligraphy pens (I had really lofty plans for these, but they bleed through the paper so I use them far more sparingly than I had hoped)
- A mechanical pencil with the all-important eraser
- A wee ruler
- An assortment of black gel pens (I cannot emphasize how important it is to have a good pen – when my favourite one ran out, I basically stopped journaling…but I’m a bit of a drama llama like that)
It’s pretty sparse compared to some kits, but my mister has taken up the habit recently and uses only a notebook and the fancy fountain pen I bought him for his birthday (I think everyone deserves a nice fountain pen), so there we go.
With that, I got to work…and fucked it up immediately.
I can’t recall if I skipped using the first two pages because I thought that was the right thing to do or if it was because the pages of the Moleskine tend to be sticky, leading to the skipping of the pages, but I did that.
I also created a two-page main index. That was not necessary, as you can see:
My index for my first completed journal didn’t even fill the first page. Live and learn.
My second go makes far more sense:
My first bullet journal covered four full months, almost exactly (sticky pages and what-not not withstanding) and morphed a whole helluva lot along the way.
For example, the idea that my list of recipes could be contained to a single line was a bit silly, too. The big thing I really love about the bullet journal system is that it can hold all of my thoughts and ideas from all areas of my life and, well, food is a big one. At some point, I realized I needed at least a full page recipe index:
I erred on the right side of caution for that one and the bullet journal system accommodated my screw up. I simply added the new, two-page recipe index, a “recipe index” entry to the main index and carried on. SO GOOD.
When I first started it, I had been re-signed for the last leg of a contract project I started in the winter, one of my big translation clients was tossing big, multi-project projects at me and I had a few smaller jobs and side-projects on the go, too. I quickly learned that plugging deliverables and their dates into a larger monthly overview and managing the granular details of each project via daily entries worked better than the smaller monthly overview plus a tasks page for the month that many bullet journalists employ
And no harm done.
The bullet journal abides.
Unlike many who use a BuJo, I’ve adopted a page-a-day system that begins with a list of tasks for the day, then a spot for reflection. Again, no harm, no foul. The system lets me do me, but I cannot say enough about how in love I am with the ritual and structure that brings to my little ADHD-infused life.
Each night (ok, perhaps not EACH and EVERY night, but close) I take some time to write about what happened that day, typically from an emotional point of view because that’s an important thing for me to express and track because I am an emotional creature + mental health, yo. Then I reference check my indexes and monthlies and set the page up for the next day and rest easy a) knowing that I’m on top of my game and b) having stuff to look forward to.
I do indulge in a little bit of flourish in my journal, though it’s not at all on par with some of the spiffy stuff I’ve seen. I like to give each day a pretty number:
And each month a pretty header:
And when beloved people bestow beloved recipes upon me, I like to honour that, too:
And make meal plans look at least a little pretty:
I love the meal plan gig, too. When I’m feeling entirely uninspired to cook (it happens, believe it or not), I just hit up the index and can go through all of the different meals I’ve made over the course of the journal and go “Oh yeah! That was delicious! I’ll make that this week!” It also keeps my grocery shopping in check and prevents the mister and I from getting to samey-samey in our cooking.
I’d forgotten how much I enjoy hand lettering. Mine could be so much better if I employed that ruler to its fullest potential, but I just can’t be arsed for the most part.
So yeah, I love it. I love that it takes very little time or other resources out of my life and that the time and resources I devote to it make such a huge difference in how I feel about facing each day.
Do you BuJo? Do you have a different, preferred method of organization? I’ve shown you mine, will you show me yours? I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this because it’s such an important, but personal experience.