Is this where I get on? I’m talking generally about January-organizational-shiny-new-year-resolutiony stuff, and specifically about bullet journals. When I first saw the words “bullet journal”, I reflexively bristled; I thought it was a product, and I did not want to buy it. But when I realized that it was a concept – no purchase involved – I had my “Eureka!” moment.
It began when I read Stephanie Burgis’s blog post, Planner Love, in which she combines her day-planner with her to-do list and – this is the revolutionary part for me – her weekly goals. Yes! From there, I found Anindita’s link to her own blog post, Systems, which offered a refinement I love: she reflects on each past week and month and documents the things, large and small, for which she’s grateful – something else I want to include. From there, I hopped over to Kate Messner’s blog post about her bullet journal, and all was revealed. (I chose that link because I bought Messner’s picture book, Over and Under the Snow, for my three-year-old this past Christmas and it’s been such a hit.)
For many years now, I’ve kept a minimal calendar or desk diary – basically, appointments and social events – and a small haystack of to-do lists. The to-do lists are usually scribbled on the backs of envelopes or torn from the margins of other pieces of paper. This one’s unusual because it’s quite neat, and also because it’s alone:
The slips of paper float all over the house and drive Nick crazy. And I knew they were getting out of hand when my six-year-old waved one at me and asked, “Mama, is this one current or should I recycle it?” The final nudge came from Jessica Spotswood, who posted a photo of her bullet journal’s January spread on Facebook. So neat! So orderly! While I am only sometimes neat and orderly, I aspire to the brain of a librarian.
So this past week, I opened up the blank journal that my brother-and-sister-in-law gave me for my birthday. Isn’t it sweet?
And I set up my first month in a bullet journal. I started this on January 18 but, as the official Bullet Journal page points out, this is also a way of keeping a diary, so I filled in some activities for the first half of January. I imagine I’ll adapt the basic format, over time, to suit me. On the left-hand page, I’ve added an ongoing list of what I’m reading. (I’ve also smudged some names and phone numbers, for privacy reasons.)
I suspect my list of goals (right-hand page) is overly ambitious, but this is a great way of verifying that. In the past, all I had was a fistful of partially completed to-do lists and a sense of ongoing slippage. With this journal, I hope to be able to analyze on why certain goals weren’t met, and figure out how to change that in the coming month.
Keeping the journal is even spurring me to be more efficient. Now, when I have a few moments of down time, I go to the journal and see what three-minute task I could accomplish. It’s so much more satisfying than checking my email yet again, or reading the first two pages of a magazine article.
I’m writing this in the first flush of love for my bullet journal. I hope it will endure, and I’ll post about my experiences with it after the first six months. As for you, friends, are you busy organizing and goal-setting? Feeling laissez-faire? Watching things fall perfectly into place?