i started bullet journaling in january 2018, though i don’t know that i can call it bullet journaling because i follow none of the “rules” — sure, i start every bullet journal with a yearly calendar that could maybe be called a “future log,” but it’s just a yearly calendar with the months laid out. i don’t use any of the keys to migrate tasks. i don’t have collections. i suppose, though, that the beauty of the bullet journal is that there are no true hard-and-fast rules — you can make it work for you as you need.
i’m not going to do much explaining of how i use or set up my bullet journal because i don’t necessarily have a system. also, my bullet journal is entirely utilitarian, so there isn’t much to explain. i follow the same template when i draw out my months and weeks. i use my bullet journal as a brain dump; i use it to take notes on whatever i’m researching, work out essay and story ideas, and keep track of projects; and i don’t approach my bullet journal as any kind of artistic expression of myself, unless you consider minimalism.
instead, here are a bunch of photos, so you can get a sense of how simple and totally plain my journal is. one of the reasons it took me so long to start bullet journaling is that so much bullet journal content is by artistic people who create beautiful pages and templates and create collages or do beautiful illustrations, all of which i admire and sometimes envy, and i found all that so intimidating. i knew i could never create anything so beautiful, so i just never got started, despite being curious. i actually purchased my first bullet journal (the red one) in june 2017 but couldn’t figure out how to get started until january 2018.
it was only when my cousin showed me her very utilitarian bullet journal that i was like OH! I CAN DO THIS — simple, minimalist, no pressure. just lines. i use the same muji pen and have a long ruler for monthly set-ups and a small ruler for daily use. i use another muji ballpoint pen for my to-do lists.
this is the only planner system that has ever worked for me, and i can’t believe i’ve been doing this consistently for almost two years now. it’s been amazing and so helpful, so here’s a look inside. i hope it helps or encourages!
a few notes, i suppose:
1. when i first started bullet journaling, i was much more ambitious about tracking shit, like my period, workouts, sleep, concerta/adderall usage, and spending. i track nothing now — like, all those trackers pictured above? none of them is in my current or recent bullet journals. i only lasted a few months when it came to all my trackers, so i just stopped because (1) i wasn’t good at being consistent with them and (2) i realized i didn’t really care about any of it because the data wasn’t doing much for me.
i do still keep a monthly gratitude log, though. i admit i don’t always update it every day, but i’ll go back and fill in the days. i’ve found that, sometimes, it helps me to focus on gratitude when i’m having a lousy day — “sometimes” being the operative word there.
2. my bullet journal, like i said, is primarily a brain dump and project tracker. i’ve learned that keeping daily to-do lists and crossing things off can be very helpful for me, that that’s actually the only way to keep my ADHD brain organized. it’s also just really satisfying, crossing shit off a list. when i was in accounting, when i was setting up a new month, i’d set up my monthly payroll accounts, so i would make sure that i wasn’t missing anything. i’m sure that there are digital apps out there to help manage tasks and projects, but, honestly, the analog method works for me. that’s a big thing for me to find something that works, especially one that works over time, so i stick with it. why fix something that isn’t broken?
3. i rarely use color! i used more color in the beginning when i was trying to track shit, but, now, use the same black muji pen (i love that muji sells pen refills, so you don’t have to buy a whole new pen every time and can reuse the same bodies), and i have colored muji pens, too, that i use selectively. i keep things pretty much all in black because i think using too much color can actually be distracting, so i use color as intentionally as i can.
4. my different washi tape edges obviously coordinate with different categories, and i try to keep my washi tape collection as small as i can. i have a different tape for a new month, essay notes, blog notes, work-related notes, and book notes, and i had a different one for skincare notes. i’ve been trying not to add more categories because having too many can get too confusing — i recently introduced two new washi tapes a few months ago, and i sometimes get mixed on what categories they’re supposed to represent. again, the simpler the better.
5. i stuff lots of things in the backs of my journals, but i don’t really tuck anything into the actual pockets. i don’t migrate these items from journal to journal (except for my small ruler), either, so they’re kind of little time capsules of stuff i did or attended or whatever when i was using that journal.
oh, and i use the leuchtterm 1917 journals. the paper is fine for me (the muji pens work great with it), and i’m loving these red-edged versions. i like consistency, so i doubt i’ll switch away from them. and, yes, as you can tell, i apply the same sticker from the strand to every journal. i keep buying a few of these stickers at one time, but i always misplace them, so i always buy more. one day, i’m going to have to unearth my stickers and gather them all in one place …