Monday, 25 January 2016

Welcome to my Bullet Journal

Right at the end of last year I discovered a magical thing called a Bullet Journal. And I mean right at the end of the year, literally, it was the night of the 30th of December. I made a quick dash to our local bookshop on New Year's Eve to find a suitable journal to make into my Bullet Journal.

What is a Bullet Journal? I hear you ask.

Well, quite simply, it's whatever you want it to be.

It's a planning concept put together by a guy called Ryder Carroll and you can read all about it on the official Bullet Journal website. In its most basic form, it's a do-it-yourself planner. You can lay it out whichever way suits you best, so that's something I'm still working on.

I grew up with 'To Do' lists, which are a good way of seeing what needs to be done. But it can be overwhelming when you look at a 30 point list and have to figure out where to start, or what to do on each day of the week. I've put reminders in my phone, but I don't always check them, or if I set a time they might not pop up at the right moment of the day. Plus I have a hundred and one other things I want to remember or do so I either end up with dozens of bits of paper or a whole bunch of lists and memos in my phone (sometimes in three or four different apps).

The way the Bullet Journal concept works is that you start it with an Index and then each time you log something in it, you add it to the Index so you can find it again later. Either you're sensible and you buy a notebook with page numbers already on them, or you do it yourself. I'm going for the do it yourself option so as I go, I number, just in case I have a complete disaster and need to rip one out.

I started mine off with something which is called a 'Future Log'. It's a work in progress overview of the year which I'm adding to as I go. I started putting birthdays and holidays onto it, then got sidetracked. That's cool, I'll keep going with it over time. My Mum got me some cool mini sticky notes for Christmas which I'm using on my Future Log so I can move them around if plans change.

Next up I have a month overview; we're in January so that's my current month overview. I've got one line for each day of the year. My life isn't interesting enough to have something for every day, but I've got space to add things as I go. I've also given myself some tasks which are for the whole month. These are general things like 'Kickstart Blogging' which might be too vague to put on a general to do list. It's quite nice to be able to glance at the month and see how well I'm getting on.

Some people use a weekly log, some a daily one, and some use both. If I was at school or had a fluctuating work schedule then I might use a weekly log, but at the moment I don't need to plan a full week at a time. I can put regular stuff onto my month overview and then just add them to the daily log as I need to.

This is where some people will probably be turned off by the idea of the bullet journal. It depends on when you've got time to work on it. I sit in bed on an evening and review the day, then prepare the next one or two and anything else that I want to add to my journal. If you don't have time to do that every day but can find a bit of time once a week, then the weekly log option might be best for you.

You can switch between them too. Right now I'm using the daily option, when I'm in Wales for a week I won't need to remember to do things before work or write blog posts, or check in with people, so I'll probably switch to a week's view while I'm there. That's what I love about my 'BuJo', it's completely flexible for what you're doing at the moment. No more investing in a diary and then giving up on it because there's not enough space (or too much).

On my daily pages, alongside the date and day I draw eight little glasses of water (to try and keep my fluid intake up because I get busy at work and then forget to refill my water bottle). Then I draw a bunch of little boxes beside any tasks I have for the day; these get coloured in when they're completed, half coloured if they're in progress, a cross through them if they're cancelled, or a little arrow if they need to be moved to another day (usually just postponed to the next day, but if it's longer than that I'll write the day in brackets at the end of the line).

I've also been recording the weather and at the end of each day I try to write one or two lines about it. I try to write something for the day that's made me happy, though sometimes I'll write something that's bugged me, it's a nice little way to record my thoughts without writing a massive journal entry.

Rather than saving a few pages without knowing just how many you're going to use for a particular week or series of days, when something crops up that you want to log, you just turn to the next free page and start there. It gets logged on the Index and that makes it a lot easier to find when it's needed.

And what other things do you add to your Bullet Journal?

Pretty much anything you like.

For January I've got a Habit Tracker where I've set myself a bunch of goals and I track my progress with them. You can see at a glance how well you're doing. I've also set myself a bunch of goals for the year, I'm curious to see how I get on with those. I've even got pages dedicated to my upcoming trip to Wales (things to do, things to pack and things to do while I'm there).

My current favourite page is one I made for keeping up with the episodes of House that we're watching. I even ordered more pens to give me the range of colours to match the blu ray box sets for each series.

I'm about a sixth of the way through my current notebook and it wasn't the one I'd have chosen if there was an option. Lots of people use graph or dotted books and that's what I'll go for next time. I'm anticipating needing a new one somewhere around March right now, possibly April. I've got my sights set on a Leuchturm, similar to my book journal.

Expect to see some more in depth posts on my BuJo in the future. I'm having fun making it look good whilst being functional, and I quite enjoy showing the thing off.

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