If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time, you might remember a post back in 2016 where I talked about my bullet journalling set up. It’s 2019 now, and I realised that it’s been a while since I first even heard about bullet journalling. About three years in fact, so it seemed like a good time to reflect on what I’ve learnt in that that time.
For those of you who are new to the term “bullet journalling”, I’ll explain what it means. The idea is a handcrafted journal, in the sense that you start with an empty book (some people like dotted pages, some prefer plain) and you fill it yourself. Daily, weekly, monthly and yearly ‘spreads’ help you to plan your time. A coded symbol list helps you organise which tasks you’ve done, need to do or have cancelled. The great thing about bullet journalling is that you can do it in a way that suits you. This video sets you up with the basics, and this book is the one to read if you are new to it. In its simplest terms, a bullet journal is a DIY planner.
I’ll start with the pros of bullet journalling. When you first start researching this new way to plan your time, you enter an amazing community of seasoned planners, who share their ideas on new pages, ways to show lists and which books are best to journal in. This is the same whether you are using Pinterest, Instagram or YouTube to learn more about bu-journalling. It feels welcoming, and I love the sharing aspect of the hobby.
Because it is almost a hobby. Some people, including me at times, use it like an art form. Creative page designs, using colour pens or finding stickers to add. If nothing else, bullet journalling added another creative outlet into my life that I didn’t have before. It feels so good to sit down on a Sunday evening and craft a week’s worth of diary pages, to-do lists and whatever else you’d like to include. I’m always glad when I can find a new hobby that doesn’t involve screen time. Sitting in front of paper instead of a laptop feels right. I already spend around 8 hours each day looking at a computer, so planning my time by paper certainly works for me.
Bullet journalling is also one of the most free ways to write. There are none of the restrictions of an ordinary planner, journal or diary. If you would like to write 4 pages on one day, you can. Likewise you can skip days or weeks where you don’t need or feel like writing. You can create lists of your favourite books, films, music. Lists of places to visit or books to read. And its all in one place, that you can keep and look back on. I love that I now have each of my bullet journals to keep, full of memories.
But I do have to talk about the downsides, and why I have to admit that for the first time in 3 years, I’ve bought a normal planner for 2019. It is time-consuming. When I first started this new way of journalling, I was working part-time on a gap 6 months between college and full-time work. I had the time to spend hours on my spreads and write out my thoughts, setting aside a few hours at the end of each week and month to plan the coming days.
In reality now, I dip in and out of making the time for journalling. Which means too much gets missed, and sometimes I really do just want to add a date to a ready-made page without needing to draw out a monthly calendar first. That said, I had really streamlined the way I was using the bu-jo by last year, avoiding extra illustrations and keeping a simple weekly spread. Even so, its something you have to want to make time for and for those perfectionist among you, it will be tempting to spend a long time to get each page precise and accurate.
And the thing that probably swung it for me was the fact that it requires my hands. For those of you who don’t already know, I started getting real problems with tendonitis in my hands – hence all the absence here on the blog! As much as I adore drawing, writing, typing, creating, I had to just stop using my hands and rest them as much as possible. I now know my limits, and can write for around 15 minutes at a time before the pain starts. It has just become easier to fill in an ordinary planner, and make lists in a separate notebook. I’d rather spend my ‘good’ arm time painting or blogging than bullet journalling, but hopefully my arms/hands will get stronger so I can write at length again.
So there we have it! Just one girl’s experience of using bullet journalling. It has taught my how to plan and prioritse in a whole new way, hurt my hands and confirmed my unconditional love of writing lists. It’s a bit like a form of therapy or self-care, where you take the time to work out where and how you’d like to dedicate yourself.
Have you tried bullet journalling? If so, I’d love to know whether you are still doing it now, or whether you’ve chosen another way to plan your time.