Like most people, I guess, I have always loved the idea of keeping a diary or journal but have been too lazy to do so. I kept a diary for a couple of years when I was a teen and I still have it – it really is the most ridiculous nonsense, I was a such an annoying person. On and off over the years I have tried to dedicate myself to keeping a journal but it has never, ever stuck. Then I heard about a new thing called a bullet journal. A man called Ryder Carroll had devised a way of keeping all your to do lists, notes, schedule, calendar and a journal/diary in one place. You can visit his site at www.bulletjournal.com. Instead of having all these things on various electronic gadgets, he took us back old school style to a notebook and pen. And most importantly to me, you could design it how you wanted around his basic skeleton – an index page, a future log, a monthly log and your daily/weekly spread with symbols – a key – to how you would deal with tasks, events and reminders. It all sounds much more complicated than it is and it spoke to me. It promised me a way to get organised, get focused and enjoy of the benefits of a diary/journal that I could stick to. It doesn’t ask that you write screeds every night. A few lines, a quick review of jobs done, jobs to do and that’s it.
Like most bulletjournallers, I bought a Leuchturm 1917 A5 dotted, hardback notebook with 249 pages. You can, of course, choose whatever notebook you like but this prince among notebooks already has an index, numbered pages, lies flat and has faint grey dots which help you draw grids and keep everything neat. It’s perfect. I also bought the Leuchturm pen loop to stick inside to hold my pen. I went for the black cover but you can get lots of lovely colours.
So you begin with an index, which allows you to find weeks and Monthly logs fast.
You can also add in things like a Reading List, Weight Tracker, Period Tracker (for the ladies obviously) and so on – anything you want to track over the weeks, months, years – so the Index helps you to navigate these things quickly.
Then you have a Future Log where you list the next x months and details things you need to remember; birthdays, anniversaries, important dates…this helps when you set up your monthly log, you can refer to your Future Log to see what needs to be noted for that month.
Any blurs here are deliberate – you don’t need to know everything! Then you’ve got to decide how much space you need every day – do you want a weekly spread so you can see your week at a glance, a daily spread if you need to write a lot. Then you’ve got to decide what you want on your page. Do you want to track anything? Do you want to records things in particular? Do you want a space to jot down notes? And so on. The beauty of this bullet journalling malarkey is that you can tailor it to you.
As you can see I have gone through a few versions trying to find the layout that suits me best. At one point I shifted my day boxes all the the one side of the book so that I was leaning on the side with most paper, but I have recently decided I don’t much like that layout so have gone back.
I track my water intake, calories and steps each day y way of little graphs. I have a habit tracker to – a wee ticky box table – which makes sure I do certain things during the day like take my vitamins, wash my face at night and so on. I have a little two-sided table to record what exercise and what creative thing I have done each day. A little book shaped box to record what I am reading that week and finally a little calendar with that week coloured in.
In each day box – I do a weekly spread – I record the weather (a little weather symbol), my mood that day (little face), I bullet point things to do that day and a little reflection. I tick off jobs done, cross them out if they were no longer necessary and I > them if they need to be carried forward in which case they go on the next day’s bullet points or a day when I plan to do them.
You’ll also see that I draw quite a lot and colour in parts. I also sometimes use washi tape to decorate the pages. It all sounds ridiculously complicated but I swear, it takes me 5 minutes at night to tick off, reflect and look at the following day. I am the laziest person I know and I have managed to keep this up since August last year. Once a month I draw the layouts for the following month.
So, what are the benefits? Well, I can only speak for myself but this system has made me more productive, happier, more reflective and grateful, and focused. Don’t get me wrong, it also makes me feel a little guilty when I have not met targets or habits, or if I have had to catch up on days that I have missed, but that’s kind of the point.