I’ve been using my Bullet Journal consistently for a year now and I absolutely love it! It’s part planner, part to-do list, part record of what I’ve been doing and focusing on, part continuous work of art. Sto imparato l’italiano, così scrivo i mesi e i giorni in italiano. Anche, penso i numeri in italiano quando li leggo o li scrivo! – bene, fino a 31… 😉 [I’m learning Italian, so I write the months and days in Italian. Also, I think numbers in Italian when I read or write them! – well, up to 31…] I was never able to accomplish that with any language I studied before, but with this it just kind of started happening naturally on its own – to the point where I’ve been about halfway through counting something before I realized I was counting in Italian! I love it because it helps me practice at least a little bit every day.
My journal has evolved quite a bit during the past year. The most recent volume (vol. 3) has full monthly calendars for July/luglio to December/decembre in the front (immediately following the Index and Key), in lieu of the Future Log. I did that because I find it much easier to remember what I have planned later in the month, or next month, or whatever if it’s laid out in a grid I can visualize.
Then I begin the section for each month with a full page where I make simple drawings or word art, usually one per day, to represent what I’ve been doing or focused on. For example: in July I have names of loved ones I spent time with, movies and TV shows I watched, a simple drawing of a viola, “GAME NIGHT” in bubble letters colored to look like a rainbow, etc. It creates a rather nifty, colorful collage, and each one has a different sort of character representing that month for me, and I love looking back on them.
I experimented with tracking things such as my mood, sleep, energy level, physical activity, quando ho praticato l’italiano [when I practiced Italian], etc. – particularly in vol. 2 – but I decided it was a bit too much to deal with every day. It started feeling more like work than self care. Instead I just have a 1-page “week at a glance” with the days and month in Italian, followed by daily logs similar to Boho Berry’s. I was inspired by Alberto from Italiano Automatico (video) to write at least 5 things I’m grateful for every day. So, starting with the second week of July, each week has a spread with the “week at a glance” on the left and “gratitudine” [“gratitudes”] on the right. I usually write the gratitudine in italiano at the end of the day, thinking about good things from that day, and try not to repeat anything I’ve already written in a given week.
If you put a piece of paper in front of me and any kind of writing implement in my hand, the paper will be completely covered in doodles before either of us know what’s happening. We’ve been playing Exalted (tabletop RPG) most Sundays – usually for the entire afternoon and evening (it’s not uncommon for us to adjourn after midnight!) – so I’ve had a lot of time with a paper in front of me and a pencil in my hand. After having to re-write my character sheet at least once or twice, I decided to dedicate my Sunday/game day daily logs to doodling. It helps me stay calm and focused, gives me an excuse to use my colored pencils, creates a nifty work of art I can look at whenever I want (that’s contained in a book, not out somewhere it can get lost or damaged or clutter), and it keeps my character sheet legible! (saves paper/trees too)
I also have that entrepreneurial project (EP) I’ve been working on with my friend… We’re in the process of setting up to be like a real business with an office and stuff and fixing up our website and trying to get organized… I’ve been finding it surprisingly stressful to be honest, and kinda questioning whether it’s really for me (especially when he and I disagree on things…) – but I still want to try it for a while and see. I keep telling myself things are hectic right now; once we settle in and can start actually doing the stuff we’ve been talking about for months, I’ll enjoy it and be excited about it again! Besides, the progress I made on my music therapy(/composition?) degree is still there, and I’m continuously matriculated, and I’m thinking I should start applying for jobs once I’m done traveling all over the universe omg August WHY??!!! anyway… So… we’ll be alright…
I bring up the EP because I’ve been making a to-do list for it – usually right after my “week at a glance”/”gratitudine” spread for a given week – that is independent of a given day (or week, or month, or whatever). I just take a look at it, pick something to do, do it, and check it off. Every so often I’ll rewrite it so I don’t have to flip so far back through the book. So far it seems to be working pretty well.
In the past I’ve tried just having a giant ongoing to-do list and found it overwhelming, even when I color-coded stuff. I’ve also tried just having daily to-do lists, but found I also needed one big on-going to-do list and was intentionally adding more than I could do to a given day. I wasn’t holding myself accountable to actually accomplish what I’d said I’d do each day… So, I’m hoping maybe some combination of both will do the trick. Maybe I’ll have one or more giant to-do lists representing different projects I’m working on, and pull from or reference them in my daily to-do lists (“no, seriously, this is what we’re doing TODAY!”) So far it seems to be working with the EP – I feel better about it, at least.
So, yeah, to wrap up: I love bullet journaling because it helps me keep track of what I’m doing, when, and with whom, in a flexible format that encourages me to be creative. I can take it anywhere with me and don’t have to worry about batteries or Internet access. It’s part planner, part record/journal… but the journal part is in drawings, colors, quotes, poetry, and word art – rarely prose. My bullet journal begins with an index, key, and monthly calendars for July through December 2018. The section for each month begins with a collage representing (usually) 1 prominent thing per day. Then each week I have my “week at a glance,” “gratitudine,” Sunday doodle (usually), EP to-do list (sometimes), and other daily logs (complete with a small drawing representing the weather forecast – usually a cute little cloud). Sometimes I’ll use a page or spread for random notes or whatever, but I try to keep that to a minimum.
Even if everything else is a cluttered mess, my journal remains (relatively) neat and predictable, with a clear daily/weekly/monthly routine that gets me to slow down and focus for a few minutes and express myself in an analogue, visual medium. My handwriting and fine-motor control are definitely improving. I love flipping through it or even just touching the pages. It’s fantastic!
As for the rest of my life …
Well, maybe that should be another post.
Do you bullet journal? What are your thoughts on it? Do you have any tips, designs you want to share, etc? Please share in comments! ❤