Admittedly I am somewhat late to the bullet journal party. This is odd as any project that involves using nice pens and a notebook is right up my street. The reason I hung back was that I was fearful of the journal, I saw them appearing online, I looked them up, they became a sort of a Pinterest obsession of mine yet still I refused to take part because I thought that the obsession may be less than helpful and instead become another time vortex in my already too busy life. But the pens! The beautiful, beautiful pens! I was like a child standing looking at a big shiny red button that said DO NOT PRESS, longing to press it but fearful of what might happen if you do. Like any good child and red button scenario I pressed the button, I pressed it hard, who wouldn’t it’s a button dude, or in my case a crisp new journal and a plethora of pens! So has it turned out to be a friend or foe? Friend, it is an absolute friend but it could have quite easily gone the other way so let me advise you how to keep your friendship with the bullet journal healthy and non toxic.
1. KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid
Once I decided to take the plunge I hit Etsy marketplace and started to fill my basket with lovely stencils and washi tapes, I got more than a little bit carried away. Then I remembered the golden rule that it has taken me until I am almost 40 to realise, keep it simple stupid. Sadly I emptied my basket and remembered I am not an illustrator, I am not a graphic designer and I am not a teenager with lots of time. I am a woman who works full time with zero support network in terms of childcare, 2 kids under 5 and a home to renovate this is not a project this is supposed to help me plan my time and be more efficient. So I started to think about simple layouts.
2. Make The Layout Work For You
If you Google bullet journal you can easily waste the best part of a lifetime scrolling through enticing images of intricate layouts. Then there is the original advice of monthly log, daily log, future blah blah… And that is great if that suits your needs but it won’t suit all of us because we are rich and diverse globe of folk, so match your journal to you not the other way around. I knew that I did not need that many logs. I needed a weekly log and that was all. I wanted to see the whole week across two pages. This was my starting point.
I wanted a small section for each day, I wanted to plan daily meals to help with food budgets. I included a notes section for things that I needed to do that week but did not need to be assigned to a specific day. I also added a shopping list section and a means to track my water intake, and 5 a day. I am the sort of person who will make more effort if I get to colour in dots at the end of a day.
3. Make It Personal
In addition to the weekly log I wanted to make sure I could plan for other things such as the home and garden renovation. Although this, through choice is a book that plans my life and not my blog or the NOW Blogging Conference I would still have cross over, such as recording meetings in the weekly log but also in blog post planning. I needed a place to write down plans for the home and garden renovations; jobs to do, materials to be bought etc. It seemed like a logical place to write down potential blog posts that are contained in those tasks, especially for those days when your brain melts.
I also wanted to make a record of recommendations I receive. So often when we chat people will say, you must watch, you must listen to, you must read. I hear these, get excited and promptly forget, now I write those things on a list.
4. Don’t Fear Change
At first in my weekly log I had a sleep tracker. As much as a good nights sleep is a great thing and a healthy thing to monitor I have 2 children under 5, a babe in arms and a 3 year old who wakes 2 or 3 times a night, still, with vivid dreams. Basically sleep is an alien concept so why torture myself with it. If you start one way and find something is not working for you change it up.
5. Don’t Freak Out Take A Break
Often when we start a project and we falter we have a meltdown and quit. Instead why not just take a break, no harm no foul. During the third trimester insomnia, cracked rib, walking a round like a zombie eating whatever I liked not budgeting food at all stage of this year I decided to put the bullet journal in a drawer. I needed to let go of organising, embrace uncertainty and go with the flow. I knew at this time seeing what needed to be done and possibly missing stuff or pushing things back would depress me so guess what I let myself off the hook and picked it back up later, That is fine, it is your journal, no teachers are going to come and mark it. It works for you remember not the other way around.
I hope that I have helped you navigate your way through the complicated relationship of bullet journal and bullet journaler – not a real word but you all know what I mean.