I’ve been having a lot of fun with my bullet journal. Here’s how it’s kept me on track — and also kept me busy.
If you have no clue what a bullet journal is, you might want to get yourself acquainted with it. Click here. I should note my system is modified very much from the original one, which you can learn more about here.
It wasn’t that long ago I took the plunge and spent a little more than $25 for the actual “recognized” bullet journal. Since I’ve done it, I haven’t looked back. I do get a lot of questions about why I choose to bullet journal (also known as ‘bujo’); the most common one is, “why don’t you use your phone or computer calendar?”
I went to school between 1995 and 2008, the latter years on the cusp of social media’s rise. Back then, Facebook and Twitter wasn’t so ubiquitous: we played with pogs, collected Pokemon cards, let Beyblades rip, and were required to fill out – and have our parents read and sign — our planners every night.
It was around fourth grade I became addicted to planning. I had neat handwriting growing up, and I was always proud to show it off — that’s how the obsession started. As classes became more challenging, however, planning became more than just penmanship: I realized that it was key for my success. I was doing the challenge program in school, a few of my courses were honours courses, and soon I found myself gasping for air without my planner. I actually find much slower to whip out my phone, ‘program’ the event or task into the calendar and save it. I would rather open something up, read it or write it down, and be able to just look at it that way. It’s the same reason why I can’t ever accept the idea of owning a Kindle or eBook to read with.
An agenda — and now bullet journal — is something I’ve had in some fashion ever since, and it’s really helped me succeed in both high school and university. It also kept me incredibly sane while going through BCIT. While I’ve never kept my planners once I’ve filled them up (I see them more as a practical thing, and once they’re done, they’re done) I do plan to archive my bullet journals and keep them until I die, because they’re part planner and part scrapbook.
I love colourful, cartoon-style cover pages, especially for summer. While I wasn’t very creative for July, I started realizing August should be a bit goofier. I simply drew little cartoons for the August cover page, with the goal to capture things I either wanted to do, feelings I wanted to experience that I may have in the past months, or, just being random.
I used felt pens and gel pens to draw out my designs, and in some cases, I drew things out with pencil first. I also learned to make friends with paint again: I found things online I wanted to save, print, cut out and glue into my bullet journal. Stickers also added another layer of texture to my creations.
Some weeks I felt a little more creative than others. My favourite layout was for the week of August 14th to August 23rd. It was a mash up of so many things, and I felt like it was something fun to look at despite the whirlwind week. I’d also really started using the water tracker boxes to figure out whether or not I was getting my eight 250 ml glasses of water each day.
I was the least happy with my layout for the week of August 21 – 27. That is actually the end of the month for me (because September starts the week following) which meant a cover page right next to it, limiting my space. The good news is it wasn’t such a busy week, so I didn’t have too much to write down.
It’s pretty straightforward: I have a yearly, monthly, and weekly way to consume the information in my planner. I review my bullet journal every night before going to sleep, and every morning at work. In the evening I do it to remind myself of anything I may need to do ahead: “leave five minutes earlier tomorrow to take out the garbage!” Or, “Shaw bill due tomorrow.” In the mornings, I generally add to it when I have 15 – 20 minutes of downtime at work. This may include moving things around, or jotting down tasks I need to complete later that have suddenly popped up. I don’t really cross things out, but use a modified version of the bullet journal system to note if something is done or needs to be migrated to another day.
For instance, as I’m writing this, it’s the afternoon, just a couple of hours before I should ideally start settling in for bed. I see there’s a note today to charge my Fitbit, work on this piece (which will be socialed and published on a later day) and to go for a walk before the end of the night. Most of these things have all been done, so I’ll just go in and colour the little bullets once I’m done. If it’s something I have to do or is at a fixed time, I’ll use a little clock symbol, and if it’s a must-do, I use an asterisk.
What do you do to stay organized? Tweet at me or drop me a line in the comments below!