Monday 15th June
G left at 8:15 and I tidied up a little before breakfast. A generally productive day, much of which was spent setting up my new bullet journal.
Now, I have a slightly unhealthy relationship with notebooks. Upstairs at the bottom of my wardrobe is a huge box filled with my childhood notebook collection, most of which are empty bar the first five to ten pages. Whenever I got a new notebook (which was often) I would immediately put it to use – and fairly quickly I’d think of another project, for which I would obviously need a new notebook. This had the dual curse of an insane pile of notebooks filled with ideas, and none of those projects ever coming to fruition.
Anyway, around a month ago I heard about the ‘bullet journal’, an analogue organisation system based on bullet-pointed lists. You can find out more about how the original system works here (I recommend the video for a quick introduction!) but today I wanted to show how I use my bullet journal, and why it’s so perfect for me.
This is my new journal. It’s a Mead notebook from Paperchase (my go-to for all things stationery) and, because I decided to go out of my navy Moleskine comfort zone for summer, lime green.
The first thing I do with a new journal is number all the pages. Some bullet journal users number pages as they go along, but it’s just the kind of thing I’d repeatedly forget to do so before anything else I make sure to go all the way through – right up to page 222 in this case.
My first double-page spread is made up of my key and my index. I’ve a sneaky suspicion I’m going to need to stick in an extra page for the index this time around, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
The key explains all the different symbols I will use throughout the journal for tasks, events, notes and more. This is where you can start to get creative, adding in symbols (known as ‘signifiers’) that aren’t in the original bullet journal but will be helpful to you, such as my notes for my music practice. I’ve also added colour-coding, because I’m a little obsessed with colour-coding.
On the right-hand page is the index. Again, you can create your index however you like. I like to index each new month and any lists I write up so I know where to find them straight away. In my last journal I had a section in my index for our Lakes trip, and subsections for lists of activities we wanted to do and things to pack. At the moment my index is pretty empty except for the lists I’ve copied over from my old journal because I’ve not ticked everything off them yet!
On my next spread is my monthly log for June, with the calendar on the left and spreading across to the right, and then all the tasks I need to complete this month. If you look closely you might see some spoilers for things that will pop up on my blog in the next week and a half!
The following two pages is my weekly spread. This is the setup I used in my previous journal and I’m not sure it works as well in this notebook, so I’ll have to do a bit of experimenting over the next few weeks to figure out what works best. I’ve contemplated using the last empty box as a weekly tasks section, but actually I prefer to have it as a reflective section where I can think about the highlights from the previous week at the start of the next.
By page six we’ve reached my daily page for today.
The first thing I write on my daily pages are events, such as an orchestra rehearsal, gym session or birthday. Today was totally empty of events, so I went straight on to my tasks. Many people like to organise these in order of importance, but I prefer to just write everything down and colour-code afterwards. I know I’ll forget something and it’ll end up in the ‘wrong’ place, so I just relieve myself of that stress.
When I’ve completed a task, I simply colour in its square. To make myself feel more productive you can see how I divide tasks into sub-tasks (Summer onehundred – Thursday) and even sub-sub tasks (Summer onehundred – Thursday – photo, diary, post). This is just a motivational mechanism and works pretty well. I didn’t quite get around to writing today’s post on the day itself, so I put arrows in the boxes for Monday to signify that I was moving them to a new date – although I now realise I should have coloured in the ‘photo’ box. Finally I’ve half-coloured the task ‘edit photos from weekend’ because I got started, but didn’t manage to finish.
The final thing on this particular daily page is my summer aims list, which I wrote of briefly here – the one in my journal is an extended version. The bullet journal was created for list-makers (in my old journal I even have a list of lists to make!), but it’s so flexible that you can turn it into anything you like. Prior to my summer onehundred I wrote my diary entries in it every day – now I bullet point extra notes about each day to write up on my blog later. A quick scan through Instagram or even Google shows just how artistic you can get with a bullet journal, or indeed how minimalist.
Ultimately it’s a system that works around you, rather than vice versa as I’ve found is common with organisational apps or even systems like Filofax. The thing I really love about the journal is that everything is all in one place – my monthly and weekly calendars, my daily to-do lists, my diary entries, random ideas scribbled in the middle of the night, doodles; you name it, it all goes in this one notebook, and that notebook comes everywhere with me. It not only gives me a reason to buy new notebooks, but a method to fill them too.
Once I’d finished with my bullet journal I spent most of the day catching up summer onehundreds (as you can see on my to-do list!). It was a beautiful day so for a while I worked outside on the garden table. Felt productive and useful. Skype with G before bed.