Bullet Journaling 📗✍️
LoZ: BOTW has taken over my entire life. I have surpassed the 100 hours threshold on the game and I am still experiencing withdrawal when I can't play. I really cannot overemphasize how excellent and enthralling this game is. However, it has completed ruined all of my productivity. I've tried to get back to brainstorming and producing NTFO content, but instead I play BOTW. Bullet Journaling is what I use to attempt to get myself back to center.
I am embarrassed to admit that I started Bullet Journaling after a Buzzfeed article came across my Facebook Newsfeed. As I dug deeper, I found a community of incredibly artistic and creative “BuJo” users on Instagram. Their shit is top level and so intimidating I can see why some people simply don’t try. However, if you go to the creator’s website (bulletjournal.com) you’ll find that the original intent is really simple. I keep mine relatively minimal, but it’s a bit more ornate than the template.
So how does this fit into the NTFO universe? Well, firstly, I'm a nerd and I have been actively using one since the beginning of January (and have never not used a planner of some sort for as long as I can remember). Secondly, I would say it's pretty nerdy to keep an analog journal/planner in this day and age. Thirdly, Japanese markers and pens and washi tape.
When I started Bullet Journaling, I obsessed with keeping everything in line with the creator’s “vision”. I studied the symbols, watched the videos, and poured over the website. After all of that, I found that I really didn’t like the way he formatted the future or monthly logs. They didn’t help me visualize upcoming events and tasks and it felt very claustrophobic. This was my first lesson of Bullet Journaling, making it yours to make it work for you is more important than sticking to a strict structure designed by someone else. The components I use from the original system are an index, my version of future, monthly, and daily logs, rapid logging, and migration. I've added weekly logs, which is used by many BuJo users.
Alongside these basic components, I use my Bullet Journal to make lists, set goals, track habits and mood, brainstorm, etc. It also gives me an excuse to buy cool markers and pens. JetPens.com is a treasure trove of some of the coolest writing utensils I’ve ever encountered. The niftiest of these, imho, are erasable pens and markers by Pilot. Their Frixion Colors line is 👌. I own 12 erasable markers and 12 erasable gel pens. You can also buy tiny masking tapes called “washi tape” that come in lots of sizes, colors, patterns, and pictures. You can find some really cute stuff on Etsy (like Pokémon washi tape).
To begin, you’ll need, at a bare minimum, a notebook and a pen. I love my Leuchtturm1917 A5 hardcover with dot-grid pages. This is a pretty standard choice for most people who decide to delve into BuJo. Leuchtturm also sells Bullet Journal specific notebooks, but I personally find that to be unnecessary.
Here are some pics (pardon the censorship! these are images from my very personal Bullet Journal after all):
Every night (well, almost every night. Some nights I just don’t feel like it and that’s totally okay) I sit down to reflect on the day and plan the next. To help facilitate my reflection, I’ve started to write out “the good” and “the bad” as prompts. On really terrible days, I try to find at least one item to put under "the good". Although, last week I had such a shitty day I just drew the shrug emoji. If I ever feel the need to really write something longer than a few bullet points, I just open to the next blank page and have at it. I recently created a spread called “How Can I Make Things Better?”.
When planning the next day, I write what I need to do (i.e. work 8-5, Dr appt at 9) then I might write down some goals (i.e. finish that damn NTFO post). I have two horizontal time bars at the top of each daily log to help me visualize the next day by hour. The top bar has a P for “predicted” and the lower has an A for “actual”. In the predicted bar, I lay out when I’ll be commuting/at work, when I’d like to be in and out of bed, and I can see what’s left over and can decide how to try to best utilize it. This isn’t meant to be a strict “here’s what I have to do between the hours of 6 and 7”, especially because sometimes things go long or get cancelled and the time you thought you had is different, but it’s a good way to try to get the most out of your day when you can. The actual bar is where I add what I really did that day. It’s a good to see what you wanted to happen versus what really happened. It has helped me be more realistic about planning.
I also track the weather, sometimes the moon phase for fun, and what I ate that day (in an effort to make sure I’m eating three meals and that they’re not always total crap).
Every Sunday, I sit down to review the past week and set up a new weekly log. I complete a week in review with the prompts “the best” and “the worst”. I look at “the good” and “the bad" notes I’ve made through the week and try to pick what was really great and what really sucked. I try to brainstorm ways to prevent future suck and think proactively to set goals. I migrate unfinished tasks from the previous week, if I still think they’re still worth doing, and lay out my obligations and some goals for the week.
In my weekly log, I have a place to track spending, a place to jot down what I need to do the following week, a place for goals, and a habit and mood tracker. I like the habit tracker the best because I feel especially accomplished when I've filled in every box for 7 days straight or checked off every habit in one day. I give myself an 💯 if I manage these.
At the beginning of a new month, I review the past month and update my future log. My monthly review is based off the Get to Work Book’s reflect and goal set page (a planner I’ve previously used and loved, but it’s very large and there were parts I never found a use for. It was my last planner before moving to Bullet Journaling). I divide each section into work and personal/home. I don’t always feel inspired to fill out every section and I’d like to make some better prompts for myself, but it’s a good way to think about how last month went and what I want to work on.
I use the future log for things like birthdays, appointments, social obligations, holidays, and other things I don’t want to lose track of. I also jot down general items I’d like to achieve (i.e. in March I wrote “Do taxes”). To be totally honest, I don’t use the future log much. I rely on digital calendars for bigger ticket items like weddings and vacations (if I ever took one).
Why I Use It and How It’s Helped
I love my Bullet Journal. I use it as a tool to reflect, goal set, plan, and deter me from watching literal hours of TV. I, of course, still watch hours of TV because I love TV and being more productive doesn’t mean completely cutting out the seemingly unproductive things. Allowing yourself to be utterly lazy is important to mental health. As an introvert, it's crucial to my survival.
Using a Bullet Journal has helped me lead a more productive and purposeful life. For one thing, I started this blog. I applied for and subsequently got a scholarship! Ideas, projects, and goals no longer seem so intimidating because I am able to approach them without hesitation in my BuJo first. It has helped me identify less than desirable habits and areas I need to improve on so I’m less miserable all the goddamn time. I have absolutely noticed a difference in my wellbeing even though there is a lot to be miserable about lolz.
It’s important to not obsess over having a perfect, Instagram-worthy BuJo (unless that’s your goal, I guess) and to not obsess over using it every day just to check a box. Instead, its far more important to have something you enjoy using that helps you. Period.
Future postings aspirations
- Only 9 days until Yooka-Laylee! Assuming the USPS doesn’t lose it or the UPS can actually get into my building.
- I’m doing my cousin’s Podcast, BobCulture, this coming week. Be sure to check out his other episodes. They are a lot of fun, especially if you’re into music, improv, or wrestling!
- I’m trying my best to keep this blog weekly, but life often gets in the way! Well, life and BOTW...