Sunday, 31 December 2017

My Bullet Journal

One of the best things I did in 2017 was discover Bullet Journals, even if I am, as always, about a century late to any party. I won't explain the concept here, but if you too live under an internet rock, start with this video. I'm very glad I started with that video and not Pinterest or Instagram or YouTube, because some of the stuff there is extremely overwhelming.

I started this journal at the beginning of August, so now I've had a good five months to figure it out, here's a little peek into how Bullet Journal-ing works for me.

I bought one of the purpose-built Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, so you have a pre-made key at the front for you. For the most part I use the original Ryder notation, except for a few I've added.

I decided to house collections at the back and so put them on the end of the index, while I use the front of the index for everything else. This works fine but when I get to the end of this notebook I'll do it a bit differently. I think incorporating collections into the body of the journal (like Ryder suggests) would work better given you have an index - there's no particular need to partition them off when there're already pretty easy to find.

I keep the future log fairly simple but I really need to draw out the month as above to help me visualise. I think at the beginning I kept falling into the Pinterest trap of trying to make it beautiful, which is all well and good (and I do enjoy doodling and embellishing) but whenever something didn't come out right it annoyed me. I've been trying to figure out the right level of functional but colourful that suits me.

For my monthly spread, I use two pages. The left hand side is basically what Ryder proposes, except I find leaving a little space at the top for any monthly goals works nicely. It's only enough for a couple of sentences and encourages me to be both shorter and more vague instead of setting specific and extensive goals. A problem I have is trying to do too much and setting ambitious targets that just make me miserable when I (predictably) can't meet them. Writing little goals like "crochet something small" or "cook a new meal" might sound a bit feeble, but I really need to baby myself into chilling out. That sounds like such an Apprentice-style humblebrag like "my biggest flaw is I work too much, hairflip" but it's actually no fun at all. I'm terrible for burning myself out, and this helps a lot.

The other side of the spread is a monthly tracker, where I track things like hours of sleep, energy levels, mood, my exercise habits... and so on. It's a bit intense and weird and I don't know that everyone would find this useful or comforting, but I do! I change this from month to month, but one important section I have put in recently is where I can track if I did Fun Stuff. I try to fill in two boxes a day, and it's categories like 'watching', 'reading', 'gaming', etc. I've had a lot on the past few months so it's another way of babying myself into chilling out constructively. Like, don't just sit in front of your computer refreshing twitter and worrying about everything you could be doing. Read a book! Watch something on Netflix!

I've also been putting in budgeting spreads this year as it was a big year for budgeting for us. I would copy down everything we spent from our online banking app and then at the end of the month divide them into categories so I got a pretty detailed picture of what we spend money on. I also liked having little boxes for each of our regular payments so I could check when they went out and where in the month we were. I just... love data. I love ridiculous life admin data like this, I can't help it.

Here's a (quite sparse, actually) example of a weekly spread that I really like. I prefer having a weekly set up like this, doing it day by day makes me very nervous because I like to have the week ahead of me planned out. As I said, this is a very sparse one - by their nature they're quite personal, so the ones I used more I'd want to show less - but especially life admin stuff I like to plan out in advance. When I'll clean the guinea pigs out, the rats, do laundry, change the bed sheets etc.

This set up also has a FUN box every day. Another little place for me to write the fun stuff I did and encourage me to do more. I like using this also so at the end of each month when I do my monthly summary I know which books, TV, movies, and games I enjoyed. I quite like doing a little summary of stuff I liked, especially because, apparently, I'm terrible at updating collections for this sort of thing. Better to do it day by day.

My monthly summaries are the parts that get closest to a diarist-journal kind of thing, where I write about the month and how it went. I like to use it as a comforting sort of ego boost where I remind myself, look! I did lots of stuff! I enjoyed lots of things! and it then informs my little monthly goals for the next month. Otherwise I tend to jot little thoughts by a '-' symbol at the bottom of each day. I refer back to these a lot when thinking about the month as a whole.

The Leuchtturm comes with three bookmarks (which is a true blessing, thank you Leuchtturm) so I tend to use the darkest one for my future log, the middle one for my monthly spread, and the lightest one in my weekly.

I hope this is slightly illuminating, or at least not as intimidating as a lot of the other stuff out there. My journal is mostly scruffy but colourful, and I don't really feel any need to get more fancy than that. The 2018 title page is the only title page I've done, just because I felt like a little doodle.

Anyway, happy new year! May your planning habits be fruitful and relaxing!

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