The Bullet Journal

At the start of this year I gave serious consideration to ditching the Filofax I have been carrying around for the better part of the last decade, and using a “Bullet Journal” instead. I had been reading about them online for some time, and thought it might even be an alternative to the Moleskine notebook too (yes, I’ve been carrying a backpack full of paper notebooks around in some shape or form for years – and a smartphone – don’t start). After getting as far as buying a new notebook specifically for the task – a new Moleskine – I never got around to actually doing anything with it.

Being completely honest, I always had reservations about bullet journalling – I watched the introductory videos on YouTube, and wondered how much of a mess my regularly changing schedule would make of a curated paper notebook. Here’s the thing though (and I suspect this is common to many other people too) – my schedule doesn’t change that much – it just feels like it does. I have carried on using the Filofax over the last seven months, and it’s not filled with scribbled out plans – far from it.

Fast forward to this weekend, and you discover that our eldest daughter has taken it upon herself to start a bullet journal. I’m secretly overjoyed – not because she’s writing a bullet journal – just because she’s doing something – anything. That she is doing something involving writing, design, accountability, and introspection is all icing on the cake. While helping her come up with ideas for content last night I started looking at bullet journal guides on Pinterest. It was a slippery slope. This afternoon I headed into town to buy a new notebook for myself.

I suppose in some ways you could say I’m finally starting a bullet so I have something else to share with our eldest daughter. Of course it will also be useful for myself – from a personal development perspective – that very much depends on the way I use it though.

Anyway! I headed into town this afternoon and picked up a “Leuchtturm1917” bullet journal notebook from the stationers in the high street, along with a pack of new drawing pens (I massively prefer handwriting with drawing pens). After getting home I sat in front of YouTube for twenty minutes, and re-watched the various introductory tutorials about setting out the first few pages – the index, future log, monthly, and weekly pages. I’ve already figured out a few ways I will adapt the basics to better suit my needs – that seems to be a common thread among most people that write bullet journals – they make the format their own.

It’s tempting to hit the ground running, and fill the book with endless lists, and useless information. I’m trying not to do that – for one thing, I haven’t thought through how many pages will be needed for the monthly, and daily logs – how many that will leave for idiotic pages filled with lists of miscellaneous stuff like “books to read”, and “movies to watch”. I have to remind myself that it’s not designed to be a written story of each day as I might have written in the moleskine, or this blog in the past – it’s almost the opposite. It will be filled with tasks, events, aspirations, and perhaps reflection when closing down each week or month.

The only real “innovation” I have started already is a chart of aspirations alongside the days of the month – I will tick off the days I got up before 7am, went to bed before 11pm, didn’t drink any alcohol, didn’t eat chocolate, and did some kind of fitness. I imagine the various categories will change from month to month as I concentrate on different things, but it will be interesting to see how the numbers come out.

Maybe the first task I write down – in huge block lettering – will be “form the habit of writing this thing”. The major benefit I see others derive from bullet journals is a level of accountability that just doesn’t happen with a traditional journal or planner. Because each week and month are reviewed and “migrated” to future weeks and months, it causes a natural re-evaluation of the things that are really important in day-to-day life. That’s the hope, anyway.

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