I'm not sure how it started.
Knowing me, it was probably caused by too much time on Tumblr. Bullet journals rank up there with low-calorie-decadent-desert-recipes-but-for-real-it-tastes-the-same (not), mason jar recipes, and putting glitter where it doesn't belong (aka fads that are everywhere on the internet).
And just like breakfast-oatmeal-that-tastes-exactly-like-cookie-dough-but-with-like-no-calories! I didn't expect much from the bullet journal. My handwriting has never been consistent, choosing to oscillate between pretty cursive, and what you would get if you gave a chicken a pen. I'm a huge fan of the idea of organizing and planning, but when it comes to keeping up with planners...well not so much. I designed my own calendar that ran from August to February which I used and loved. I was able to create layouts that I personally thought were gorgeous-- I did a fake Polaroid spread, an autumn leave month...
But eventually I lost that spark of inspiration, didn't want to create more layouts, and thus my calendar was dead. I wanted something that lasted, some method that helped me get everything done, but also something that kept my (admittedly short) attention span. Your run-of-the-mill-bought-it-at-Target planner just wasn't going to cut it for me. I wanted the freedom to individualize it however I saw fit.
So I decided to give bullet journals a go. A bullet journal is very loosely defined method of planning which typically involves you, a pen, and a blank journal. The core idea (one which I don't even follow....thus the 'loosely defined' caveat) is to have a planner where you can, at a glance, see what tasks you've complete, what tasks are left, and what events you have, all coded with different symbols.
Personally, I just use open box icons to list my to-dos, purely for the satisfaction of filling them in afterwords. ((True story, sometimes, if I just did something I forgot to put on my to-do list, I'll write it out just so I can fill in the box...))
I did not want to invest much money in this idea when I first started, so I opted out of buying a more expensive journal that most people use and love. Instead, I went to Walmart and found a little black artist journal/book. My main requirement was I wanted something with blank pages-- so that I could draw whatever layout I wanted without the restriction of pre-existing lines.
My Main Spreads:
This spread tends to take the longest. For some months, I measure everything and then do some math to figure exactly how big the boxes can be. For June I just winged it. I love this traditional spread; as you can see, during the school year I would highlight when homework was due/when exams were.
I also love drawing little designs for the titles.
My Weekly Spreads:
This is crucial for all those little tasks you want to get done in each day. Recently, I've been putting any events I have as little dots. The act of writing down the tasks, while it might seem insignificant, has been shown to dramatically increase the likelihood I'll get it done in a timely manner. Sometimes the tasks are important (schedule dentist appointment), sometimes they're small (water plant), but the sense of satisfaction after filling in all my boxes is real.
Pro tip: do your meal plan in pencil. Something invariably manages to come up and I have to shift my dinner plans around. Previously, I crammed my meal planning onto my weekly spread, but I realized it needed its own space. Now the struggle is to come up with a meal plan that I actually follow. This past week I wrote down a nice little meal plan and ended up not following one word of it.
One of my favorite aspects of my bullet journal is that it holds everything in one spot. Not only my to-do lists/calendars, but also a minimalist journal. I try and write just one line per day-- see aforementioned note regarding short attention span. I've found that the one line a day is easy enough to keep up with.
Books I've Read
|There's no frigate like a book, amiright?|
I created this spread after seeing someone do something similar on Tumblr (where else?). My idea is to write snippets about books I've finished. This way I'll having a running list if I ever want to put up another blog post with my recent favorite reads.
Make writing in your bullet journal-- be it in the journal part or the scheduling part-- a fixed part of your daily schedule. For me, right before I go to bed, I like to glance over my schedule, add in new tasks, mark off the day, etc. If I leave my bullet journal out and about and tell myself 'oh I'll write that down later' it never ends up happening.
The reason why this bullet journal has stuck is two-fold. First, it is extremely flexible. If the week gets too busy and I forget to write a couple of days into my weekly spread, no big deal! I can skip as many days as I want and fit in the days that I am going to plan. If I want to do a spread listing my blog post ideas, or recipe ideas, or exploring Colombia ideas, then I can. This is no guideline I have to follow, no set number of pages devoted to anything-- it's all free form.
The second reason why I personally have kept with it, is that the bullet journal is a great creative outlet for me. Especially during the semester, I don't necessarily have time to draw or illustrate or color or do anything creative. And if I did, sometimes I would feel guilty for taking time away from work. The bullet journal allows me to be creative while doing something that has become essential for me: planning. On weeks when I've fallen behind on my bullet journal, I've noticed a negative impact on my productivity. Writing everything down and planning it all out helps me feel less overwhelmed when juggling school, teaching, homework, research, and life in general.
As with anything I love (books, blogging, etc), my ever present goal is to convert everyone around me. I would love to see what my creative friends come up with it they ever tried their hand at bullet journals (you know who you are!).
If nothing else, I hope this blog shed some light on one interpretation of how bullet journals work!
Thanks for reading :)