Grab a hot or cold beverage... this is a LONG post :)
(Tomorrow I will post the usual "quilty weekly update") :)
DISCLAIMER 1: in this post I express my own opinions and my own interpretation of how to use the bullet journal system. It is not necessarily aligned with what the "creator" of the system (Ryder Carroll) describes. If you are interested in the basic original approach go to http://bulletjournal.com/ to find more information.
DISCLAIMER 2: if you are one of those people that get upset because I don't follow the "official rules", I add fancy decorations, drawings, etc and those are not "bullet point lists", please just stop reading here! :) While I get inspiration from the original system, I want it to work for ME. And yes, maybe I change it so much that I shouldn't call it Bullet Journal... but calling it "a notebook where I list things to do, plan my activities, projects, draw, write, doodle and learn new things" is a little bit too long :) So I stick with the name.
As Kara (from BoHo Berry) says beautifully (paraphrasing) "I spend some time to make my bullet journal pretty, and that is actually the thing that keeps me coming back to using it, but the reason I use it is because it helps organize my life". So no, the prettiness is not necessary, but how useful is an efficient organizational system that is always stored in a drawer because it is too boring to look at? :)
Ok... now let me show you some of my pages and shares some of the lessons I learned!!
Click each picture to see all the details.
This is a crazy simple idea that completely changed my mindset!
How it works? You write a collection, spread, or whatever page in your journal, you put a page number and you write it back in the index. Shocking right?
It changed my mindset because my problem with planners is that they are static, they have things in a specific order, you cannot change anything and there is always a lot of "wasted" space.
Here, instead, do I need a page for this week task? I create it, number it, put it back in the index. Now, do I need a page to plan my next three months? I create it (on my first empty page), number it, put it back in the index. Do I mess up a page? Oh well, I glue it and I don't put it back in the index :)
Its flexibility gives you freedom to explore and evolve in what you like.
Its well defined structure allows you to find what you need.
I made a page where I track things that I want to do (more or less) once a week, and things that I want to do (more or less) once a month. I don't want to force myself on specific numbers, so that's why I just list the tasks and I color a square every time I do it. Did the weekly things get done 4 times this month? good. 2 times? still good. No times at all? well... did my life fall apart because of this? no... so maybe I don't need to list this task at all next month :)
That's why I like the flexibility of tracking things but changing up the trackers every month. It helps really evaluate what matters and what doesn't in your everyday life.
About the September Tracker...
First: did you notice that even if it lists all the days, it is NOT called daily tracker? That made a huge difference for me. Daily means I feel compelled to do that task every day... and if I don't, I feel guilty. That is not the point of this tracker! You track what you do, then you evaluate at the end of the month, no guilt involved.
That's why I actually, on purpose, chose to put in the trackers events that:
- I ALREADY do every day (those will get colored in very easily, boosting my happiness)
- things that is very likely I will do very often (challenges, doodles, ...)
- things that I hope to do more often (like exercise or mend socks :) )
- things that I know will be done just on few specific days (like blog posts)
This mix allows me to feel less guilty about leaving squares blank (because some rows are supposed to be mostly blank anyway), but also motivated to color rows because some other rows get so many squares already!!
It's a personal challenge to find the right balance... that's why you can change the things you list every month.
I don't have any of those... and they are all part of the "official" system.
The point is that I have a full time job, so I don't need to list/track what I do every day (I already have a planner in the office for that). I don't need to see the entire month in advance since I am trying to track my crafty projects, so one week at the time is better. I don't need to see the next 6/9/12 months either. And I don't need to doodle memories since I have the "1secondeveryday" app that already does it. So I don't include these in my bullet journal. And that is ok! :)
Maybe I will in the future, maybe not, who knows! But that's the point... add to yours what YOU feel is good for YOU.
Bad trackers/pages may compromise the entire system because you may think that since you don't track your daily activity then the entire bullet journal idea is not useful... That's NOT the case... just be open and don't be afraid to experiment!
I love how I designed this page.
It's simple, it's cute (at least the latest ones are becoming cuter), it's functional.
At the beginning of each week, I list few things in the "Quilting and Crafting" section or "Home and Personal" section. I put them in approximate days, but I don't stress about it, because I have the view of the full week, so if I feel that I want to do something on Mon that is listed on Fri (or viceversa) it's all good!!
As you may have noticed, I tried to use the "key" system for several weeks. Meaning that I list the task with a bullet point and I put an X on it when done.
I hated it.
An X is a small thing, and I would have still to scroll the entire page with my eyes to understand what is missing and what has been completed. After trying to see if I get used to that official system, I abandoned it and came up with an easier way for me: I color things that are done and cross things that I don't want/need to do (or things that I moved to the following week). This is going great, I get more things done and I am less frustrated. Sorry Carroll, your key system makes totally sense but my brain doesn't like it!
It is fun to participate in daily challenges because they are community efforts that keep you engaged and inspired. There are a billion of these in the bullet journal community, and I picked two that made sense to me: ZenArtChallenge and RockYourHandwriting.
Both have daily prompts to guide you on what to draw/write on.
While I enjoyed them, I also felt they didn't work for me as I was hoping.
The handwriting one it is fun, but I don't have a desire to improve my handwriting (I think it looks fine when I write slowly) plus I don't want to think about what to write, I just want to write. So I initially changed it to "I will copy a piece of a song that I hear on the radio and I will practice different fonts"... while it was fun, again it didn't click. One day I was reading "How to think like Leonardo Da Vinci" and I read that he wrote "mirrored"... that's where it clicked: I can practice my mirrored writing one day (meaning writing with my right hand, but writing each letter mirrored and writing right to left) and the other day I can practice my non-dominant hand writing!! Oh, wow, now we have an interesting challenge! Are these pages ugly? You bet! Am I improving and learning funky new skills: yes indeed! :)
For the ZenArtChallenge, I like zentangles but I don't particularly like designs that require a lot of shading or designs of object (flowers, ...). I will do it again next month, but I think that in Nov I will turn that into a "DoodleAQuiltingDesign" kind of thing instead... we'll see!
Pages to draw, doodle and have fun with lettering, fonts and no constrains.
The first one is just to test some cute dividers, doodles and fonts to use in my weekly spread or special events page.
The second one is again very free form: just pick 5 words (completely random, long, short, in my own language or any other language) and just "draw" the word in a special font. Not having the constrains of writing long sentences it allowed me to get more creative and wild! The only rule I told myself is to write them all horizontal so they will end up forming a "label cloud" kind of design.
The "doodle an artist" pages are the ones that I most proud of!! I love the idea and I was looking forward every day to either draw something or find something to draw for the next day. The idea is to pick an artist and then copy some elements from some of her/his pieces (Steal like an Artist). The act of researching their life, reading the story of a painting, trying to extract simple elements that I can sketch just with a pen is very very valuable for me. Considering that I have NO art background, NO art education, I think I copied the different pieces quite well! And it's unbelievable how much the daily practice improved in just a month! It also improved my confidence (in drawing and life) and opened my mind to a world of possibilities. YOU SHOULD TRY THIS TOO, especially if you think you don't know how to draw!! just pick a simple clipart and copy that... you will see great improvement if you do it consistently for weeks. Don't try to make it perfect... just keep drawing new things every day and you cannot not improve!! :)
These are the most useful trackers for me.
If I have to organize an event (like hosting a lunch, dinner, etc), I need to think about how to arrange the house, what to cook and when, how to decorate, etc. Having these lists that highlight what still needs to be done and what is ready made me feel in complete control of the situation. Plus now I have a cute record of the events!
Again, remember that you don't need to track everything, and you don't need to go completely analog. I have my digital tracking system for many details and for the initial (more messy) setup of things... but when I have a clear path ahead and few things to track, I really enjoy taking the time to put it on paper.
There are a gazillion of ideas on other collections or things that you may want to track (exercise, finance, reading, watching, ...) but I tried to start with just few of them to really see if I was going to enjoy the process of using an analog system to organize parts of my life... I love it... so I will add more collections in future months!!
LAST TIP (VERY IMPORTANT):
I highly highly recommend to start your first bullet journal on a super cheap notebook (I got mine several years ago in a grocery store, it's pretty low quality paper) and just start with a single pen. Use things that you have around your house already. In this way if it is not super pretty right away, or you end up not liking the process, you don't feel guilty of "wasting" a super cute journal. Plus some items (pens, journals, stickers, ...) are quite expensive, but you may want to try the simple ones first. When I started quilting, I didn't start with the high quality fabric and machine that I am using now, but I am happy that I eased into the craft so I could thoroughly enjoy the growth.
DO YOU HAVE A BULLET JOURNAL? Do you share your ideas and comments? If so, please leave a comment below with a link to your blog/instagram. We will love to see it and get inspired!!