After somewhat of an absence, I’m back with some insight into how the hell I keep my life together.
Often people ask me how I manage to keep up with the various life things I involve myself in – jobs, uni, clubs, etc etc. Not to be up my own ass, but I am the kind of person who’s physically and mentally incapable of chilling out (shocking, I know). Now I’m 100% aware that I’m a nutter, and that this isn’t necessarily healthy for my mental well-being (learning to let things go can be the topic of another post once I’ve figured out how to). But it is just a fact of my personality. I get bored easily. I like to keep myself occupied.
So considering how much shit I pile onto myself – how do I keep track of the classes, meetings, travel for work/play, workshops, and so on? I used to be a religious user of planners. The Frankie magazine diary was my favourite for years, thanks to the weekly layout, notes section, and cute stickers that came with it. I still think it’s gorgeous, but I came to find that it was a bit restrictive.
I was a creative kid, but as I got older and started uni I quickly found that I had no time on my hands to make things anymore. So when I found out about bullet journaling (through Pinterest of course), I brushed it off as something I could never accomplish. I’m a terrible drawer, my handwriting is a mess, and I’m a perfectionist – three things that didn’t seem to go hand-in-hand with the perfect doodles, calligraphy, and intricate layouts of the bullet journals I’d seen on the internet.
For context, bullet journals are blank notebooks (either fully blank, dotted, or with a grid layout) that you customise to suit your own needs. You generally start with a monthly spread, where you can outline your longer term goals, habits, and anything else. Then, you can have each week laid out to have to-do lists, events, appointments, and other weekly information. The beauty is, that you can add in other pages between the months and have all your information in one space, instead of using a notebook, a journal, a diary, and a calendar. So I’ll have a spread outlining the blog posts I want to write, trip planning and packing lists, a tracker for my online shopping purchases (lol), and basically whatever you want.
The two pictures below show what a monthly and weekly spread look like, as well as a special spread I did for a holiday to Wellington (note: this is my own life that I’m sharing, so if we could avoid the judgy stuff that would be lovely thanks. My habits may be a mess but that’s my business mhmm).
So, thanks to a timely Christmas gift, I found myself in the possession of a Leuchtturm 1917. Obviously sick of hearing me pine after bullet journals online, but complaining that I’d never be able to do it myself, my partner forced a grid notebook and some ink pens on me. And honestly, I didn’t think I could do it. I thought, best case scenario I’d give it up after a month because it was too much to maintain, and worst case scenario I’d get horribly depressed that it wasn’t beautiful and perfect and throw it away in anger.
Surprisingly, neither of those things happened. What did happen was that I fell in love with creativity all over again.
Yes, after all that Pinterest trawling I had exceedingly high expectations of myself.
Yes, my artistic abilities left a lot to be desired.
Yes, my handwriting didn’t match up to the typography I’d aspired to.
But honestly, I stopped caring. As soon as I stopped striving for perfection, and let myself be okay with ugly flowers, messed up titles, and cramped layouts, I enjoyed it so much more. And I even started to improve. Sure my drawings aren’t perfect and I have used twink (and strategically placed stickers) a million times to hide mistakes, but my cursive is way better than when I started and I can even draw little flowers that are recognisable as such.
So, after all that blabbing, here’s some quick pointers if you’re keen to start a bullet journal of your own.
What you need:
- A notebook – people will say the Leuchtturm 1917 or a Moleskein are best but honestly use whatever you want cause those are expensive as hell.
- Pens and pencils – I use a black ink pen, fine point blue, highlighters, and pencil for when I draw (and mess up)
- Optional stuff – stickers, photos, instax, drawings, washi tape (I have an unhealthy obsession with this stuff. Am I embarrassed that as a 21 year old I have a whole stack of these? Hell no. Do what you love yo).
- That’s it! I really advocate this not costing a lot unless you have the funds to, because it doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby.
- Future log – this is super useful. It’s basically a year long calendar where you put all your events, birthdays etc. for the year for future reference. So when you draw up your monthly and weekly spreads, you can flick back to this and add in what’s happening that month/week. I do this in pencil in case things change, and back everything up on my phone calendar because it’s the 21st century and I’m a realist.
- Goals/New Years Resolutions/Five year plan – this is an awesome place to hold yourself accountable to the goals you optimistically made in January and then forgot about completely by February. Write it all down and you can flick back to it as the year passes and feel good if you’ve achieved any of it (or never look at it again if you haven’t)
- Habit tracker – this is a grid where I track certain things I aim to do everyday (drink water, get x hours of sleep, exercise etc). Every night I cross of the things I have achieved, and it feels SO GOOD when you have a day where you achieved every goal.
- Semester planner – I like to have all my due dates on hand for my assignments, so I can plan around what I have coming up. I also include my timetable so I can easily flick to it and see what I’ve got on and when.
- There’s a million other spreads you can include, such as thirty before thirty lists, holiday planning, holiday journaling, Christmas lists, exercise tracker/planner, work hours, wishlists etc.
- Finally, everything you have in your bullet journal will be included in an index in the front of your journal. You just add it the page title (eg. Wellington holiday planning) and the page number (pg. 65) so that if you want to see it again, you know exactly where it is without having to flip through the whole notebook.
And that’s it really! Feel free to get in touch if you want more in depth help starting up, I’m happy to lend a hand 🙂