About a year ago my friend Toni sent me a link introducing the bullet journal. While I found the concept intriguing, it didn’t seem like something that would work with my busy direct sales business calendar. So I watched the video, fell in love with the idea, wished my life were such that it would fit into Ryder’s system, and returned to my much-loved Erin Condren Life Planner.
I’m weird like that. For some reason, I get ideas stuck in my head that everything needs to be done just so. Ask my mom–when she taught me to sew as a kid, I wasn’t content until I had the exact same fabric as that pictured on the pattern cover. Strange. Very, very strange.
Back to today. If you read this post, you might remember me talking about my growing obsession with the bullet journal. Things have only gotten more intense since then, so I decided it was high time to share.
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Why I switched to the bullet journal
My initial reasons for switching to the bullet journal were actually quite shallow. Well, mostly shallow, with some logic thrown in for good measure.
Room to be artistic
Each February as I battle Seasonal Affect Disorder, art becomes an integral part of my fight. I saw that with the bullet journal, I’d have plenty of room to doodle and Zentangle to my heart’s content. As I pored over fellow blogger Kara’s spreads, I knew I could create something equally beautiful and have my therapy tool at hand at all times.
In the past, I’d attempted to get artsy in my Erin Condren Life Planner (ECLP), but there was never enough space. The boxes and lines that gave me structure also created stricture.
A place for everything, all in one place
You know the whole “women are like spaghetti, men are like waffles” metaphor? That’s probably true for me, and my life and work exacerbate the problem. I’m a wife-mom-sister-daughter-granddaughter-aunt-friend-student-blogger-writer-jeweler-teacher-mentor-business owner-creator-housekeeper (sort of on that last one). That’s a lot to manage and track, at least in my mind.
With my first ECLP, I added collections to the back of the book, in the notes section. This turned out to be problematic for several reasons. First, without a list of my lists, I never remembered where I’d written what. Secondly, I didn’t actually remember writing much of anything. I made notes and promptly forgot them.
One of the most important components of the bullet journal is the index. Since I went with the Leuchtturm 1917 for my notebook, the pages are already numbered. So as I add a note or collection, or when I begin a new month, that gets added to the index. Therefore I can access whatever I need quickly and easily.
Some of my favorite collections include:
Green smoothie recipes from the Simple Green Smothies challenge
What I love about the bullet journal:
This seems like an odd thing to love when you’re a lifelong planner like me, but there is so much freedom in a blank page.
Some bullet journalers like to create their entire weekly spread in advance, and I did that…once. But letting things happen day by day is one magical aspect of the bullet journal: you always have room for whatever comes your way. So if you’re taking a class and want to throw in some notes, boom. If an inspirational quote crosses your path and you want to hand letter that into your book–you’ve got room, my dear. Or if something stressful takes place and you want to commemorate it with a doodle, doodle away.
This week I added a home show tracker for my business appointments. Where did I put it? On the next blank page. How will I find it? It’s in the index. What happens when it fills up? I’ll create a new one–on the next blank page I come to.
You can bullet journal in just about anything: a composition book, a Moleskine, using some papers you’ve stapled together. There really aren’t any “rules,” other than the index, and even that is more of a guideline. 😉
When I ordered my Leuchtturm 1917 from Amazon, I made dang sure to order the dot grid. Why? With the dot grid there is both structure and freedom. I have the hint of lines, so my writing is straight. I have the hint of squares if I want to create a grid. Or I have the hint of a blank page if I just want to doodle…and if you know me, you know I want to doodle a lot.
The evolutionary nature of the book
Your bullet journal morphs into what you need or want it to be. For me, a planner has always been my brain on paper. But I’ve chosen to make my bullet journal more than a planner; it’s a way to track memories, take notes, brainstorm, and plan for success.
In my three+ months of using the bullet journal, I’ve created collections and planning pages that I’ve never referenced again. I’ve also created pages that I reference every day. It’s a learning process.
Why I’m sticking with the bullet journal
Let’s be honest here: I’ve tried countless different planners and calendars over the years, from boring and traditional to various digital systems to the highly colorful Erin Condren Life Planner. So when I decided to give the bullet journal a try, part of me hoped it would work and part of me–the part that loves all my colorful Erin Condren interchangeable covers–hoped that it wouldn’t. Since the only investment was the actual journal, my only risk was $15.
As you can see from the header, I am sticking with the bullet journal. There’s no need to be overly redundant or wordy. I love the bullet journal for the reasons already stated:
- I have a place to be artistic
- Everything is contained in one book
- It’s easy to reference
- Blank pages ensure I always have enough room for whatever happens next
- The dot grid offers structure and freedom
- My book morphs and changes with me
But that’s not all. The bullet journal makes me continually confront my perfectionism. Since there are no hard and fast rules, no boxes, no numbers–nothing, really–I have to create my own. As a rule-follower who’s always colored in the lines, this is a huge growth opportunity. What if I mess up?
Therein lies the beauty. I can’t mess up. My motto grows ever stronger: I never fail; I only learn and grow. My bullet journal is a constant practice of grace towards myself and an invitation to grow.
The bullet journal isn’t for everyone
In preparation for this post, I asked my Facebook friends who use digital calendars why they prefer that method. Most of the answers weren’t surprising. And one of my *dear* former students flat out called me old for using a paper planner. (Our relationship hasn’t changed much in the past 16 years.) 😉
With that in mind, I put together a little assessment to help you determine what type of planner fits your personality and needs. Based on your answers, you’ll get a score listing all three types of calendars in order: digital, traditional, and bullet journal.
Once you’ve taken the assessment, leave a comment below to share if you were surprised by the answer and found the assessment helpful. Happy planning!