For as long as I can remember, I always bring a notebook with me. I use it to jot down thoughts and ideas, sketch, or note something I have to do. It’s usually messy, unorganized, and very random (even if I’m using a dated journal or planner).
A few years ago, I heard of Bullet Journal and was intrigued by the simple system. No frills, no fancy layouts and such. I decided to try it out with a small notebook but instead of using the system as it is, I adapted it. I divided the notebook into sections and added some calendars I printed from Moleskine. It ended up being like any of my previous notebooks: a somewhat disorganized catch-all for everything.
I tried bujo again a year later and while it was slightly more organized, it still ended up being a messy catch-all. I went back to using dated planners after that. For memory keeping, I was still writing long form on notebooks that acted as my journals, but rather than writing daily as I used to, I wrote only when I felt like it.
I decided to give bujo another serious try this year. It fared better than my previous attempts. I was able to log most of the weeks each month, but more or less stopped around August. I used to browse Pinterest and Instagram for bullet journal ideas that I tried. I made a layout that had separate sections for goals and tasks and other things. I made trackers for credit card bills and subscription dues. I made a tracker for my Instagram and my expenses. Honestly? They were tiring.
While I still enjoyed looking at pretty layouts, they made me feel discouraged about bullet journaling. I’m a fairly creative person, and while I know these layouts weren’t necessary to have a successful bujo, I felt a sort of pressure.
When I saw Ryder Caroll’s post about going Back to the Basics, I felt so relieved. It also was timely, as I decided to try bujo again, but this time sticking to how it was originally set. Of course, me being me, I still wanted some sort of design (or non-design, however you see it). I settled on boxes and using my Zebra Mildliners to add some color.
So, here’s my current setup:
- Goalsetting: I took a quick session with Alessandra Lanot of Life After Breakfast about goal setting. I thought I’d transfer what I’ve written in her workshop to this journal, so I can easily refer to it.
- Future log: I divided the year into quarters, so that’s three months per page, with a calendar showing the month’s dates. I also separated birthdays from other events and tasks.
- Period tracker: Something to work alongside the app on my phone.
- Savings tracker: I feel like I don’t get to save enough because I don’t keep better track of where my money goes or how much I have. I also placed an amount goal.
- Project tracker: I’m looking to creating more in 2019, but I am a huge procrastinator. My aim with this project tracker is to give myself a visual timeframe to do things before it is due.
- Month calendar: I drew a calendar grid, but I realized the spaces are too small so for February, I’m sticking to the original suggested setup.
- Monthly task list: Nothing much for January yet, but we’ll see as we go.
- Month expense tracker: Nothing fancy—just somewhere I can put in money that comes in (salary and other income) and goes out (expenses/payments made)
- Medicine tracker: I’m taking medicine to help keep my sugar levels down, and I’m supposed to take it thrice daily. This will help me keep track of whether I took it or not, since I’m not used to drinking medicine on a regular basis.
If you’re trying out bullet journaling for the first time, or have tried before and didn’t feel like continuing, I recommend reading the article about going back to basics. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the beautiful layouts and many tips available online, but don’t be.
Ryder made the bujo as a basic system you can build on, but if it’s getting too complicated for you, stop and think about why you’re doing bujo in the first place. One of my reasons is to be more organized, make sure I’m not wasting time and money by being all over the place.
And to quote the article:
Strip away everything that doesn’t support your purpose. Start simple. Build slowly. Your practice doesn’t need to be profound, or beautiful. It needs to be real, relevant, and effective. Most of all, it needs to be yours. It’s not about how your Bullet Journal looks, it’s about how it makes you feel. Add only what feels valuable, and give yourself permission to walk away from approaches that don’t.Ryder Caroll, Back to the Basics
I’m excited to start over, for the experience and the lessons along the way. Wishing you the best!