Friday, 25 May 2018

Bullet Journalling and Blogger Love 💙

Fig. 1: She's ambidextrous and loving it

💙💚💛💜  Blogger Love

I've always thought that it is important to get out of my little blog bubble and connect with other bloggers, so in the interests of being healthy and rounded I've taken  part in the 'Blogger Love' series over at Em's World. Event planner and fellow bullet journalist Em does a lovely weekly series where she features other bloggers via a short getting to know you interview. You can read mine here. If you're a blogger and you'd like to take part you can find out more about how it works here.

Bullet Journaling: What? Why? How?
Now, if you're hearing the words bullet and journal together for the first time you're not alone. I only discovered the system last year by chance when I saw a random post on Facebook. However it has been 'a thing' since around 2015, with an ever growing army of 'BuJo' users (see Pintrest or Instagram). The original system was developed by Ryder Carrol, a digital product designer, he describes it as 'the analogue system for the digital age'. Since Carrol introduced it, it has really taken on a life of its own with people adapting the system for their own purposes. Instead of using a traditional diary/planner which has a restrictive set layout, you use blank a notebook you create your own layouts when you want to use them. Carrol explains his original system as a 'frame work' which consists of four core 'modules' (The Index, Future Log, Monthly Log, Daily Log). So is it just a notebook then? I hear you ask. The answer is no, it's so much more! So what is it? A diary? Sketch book? Planner? Actually it's all of these things and whatever else you want it to be (within reason!).

Fig 2: My journal front page
I have found it to be a brilliant tool for planning and gathering together disparate thoughts and research ideas in one handy place. I've never struggled with getting organised but I've never found paper diaries particularly useful. I'd end up with loads of blank pages or find I had other pages where I didn't have enough room. This is one of the best things about BuJos, you create them to suit your own needs and if you don't use it one week it doesn't matter.  I also love that it makes some of the more mundane organisational tasks a little more fun and the creativity that it encourages. My BuJou houses every pyrography or card design I have, every little research idea alongside my cleaning schedule and meal plans. I have always enjoyed drawing so I can really get into the decorative aspect of BuJos. I would really recommend giving it a try if you are researching and writing and find that you have lots of ideas on random scraps of paper and have never quite found a system to keep them all together. Equally if you just need to inject a little life into your usual research notebook/planner/diary.  Below I will attempt to briefly outline how to get started with a bullet journal using some of the pages from my own BuJou.

All you really need is a pen and any notebook of your choosing. However, there are specific BuJos you can buy online which have squared dotted paper, this is the preferred format of seasoned journalers. Good quality BuJos are expensive though, so if you're just trying it out there's nothing wrong with a standard lined notebook to start with. The great thing is you can start any time of the year, unlike a diary where you're bound to a Jan start, or Sep if its academic. Also if you don't use it for a couple of weeks there are no wasted pages.

Basic Layout 
If your using a normal notebook it probably doesn't have page numbers, the first thing you'll need to do is write at least the first few page numbers in (you can always the rest as you go along). Generally BuJos follow a basic structure of a contents page, key and year at a glance or 'future log'. After this you add your monthlies, weeklies and any collections you wish to add (more about those later).

Contents Page
Near the very front of your journal you should have a blank table for the contents page (also referred to as the index page). This is to be populated as you fill your journal so it is not necessarily chronological. You can add your own icon next to each heading to quickly identify what group of items those particular pages belong to. For instance figure 3 shows how I clearly mark out pages which contain monthlies/weeklies as opposed to 'collections' such as trip planning or birthdays.

Fig. 3: My contents page

Your key is usually situated near the front of the journal and shows all of the symbols that you will use throughout the journal. There is a classic key, but you can do it however you want as long as you know what you mean and have a consistent system throughout. I have used a mixture of the classic key and some symbols I've seen others use. You put a dot next to tasks, then you can turn the dot into the arrow or cross symbols to show where you are up to with it. If you are unable to complete the task on the planned day/week you can 'migrate' it to some point in the future. I have to say I don't really use the 'task scheduled' symbol much  but I would use it for when I have a task that is rescheduled for another date. Some people have a rule that they can only migrate a task twice before they have to do it or delete it.
Fig. 3: My journal key, other keys are available!

Year at a Glance
The year at a glance is just a couple of pages dedicated to an entire year's calendar (see figure 4) you don't have to do this but it is useful for planning further ahead than just the next month or week. In the original Ryder system it is called a 'future log' and is just a super simple list of the coming months starting from whenever you started your journal. I prefer to use these mini calendars, although next time I may leave more room underneath for writing the details of important dates, as you can see I'm a little pushed for space!. 

Fig. 4: Sample from my 'Year at a Glance'

At the start of each month you simply write out a monthly calendar which can be as plain or creative as you like. I like to number the weeks and  write a little summary of what's happening each week in that month, I then refer to this when I'm setting up my weeklies. And this is not a requirement but one of my favourite things is to do is a welcome page for the month, like the one I did for March this year (figure 5) it's something that's popular among BuJo-ers and you see some very beautiful and creative examples.

Fig. 5: March front page
Fig. 6: March monthly

Fig. 7: Star Wars themed May monthly spread

There are a million and one ways to do your weeklies, or 'weekly spread'. The idea is that week by week you plan out the entire week on one page. It is best to only do a week at a time, that way you maintain the flexible layout that is so great about BuJos. I tend to use one page and just leave enough room to log a few tasks and reminders. I also like to get creative and try to do something different each week, like my octopus layout from Feb (Fig. 8). If I'm pushed for time I'll just do a simple layout (like the one from this week! Fig. 9). Others I have seen are across two pages and include more detail out this Pintrest board for many different examples.

Fig. 8: Example weekly spread

Fig. 9: Simple style weekly spread
Dailies and Rapid Logging
So you can stop here and simply just plan out your month/week, that's fine, but you will miss out on part of the actual journaling element of the Bujo. This is where you can quickly add notes day by day, whether you're planning out your day in detail, designing your new bathroom or noting down fleeting writing ideas. Below is an example of how you could use the bullets on a daily basis:

23 May 2018

-¡ Breakfast at Chiquitos with Amy 10:00
©Shopping with James
Ù Drs appointment 15:00
● Clean bathroom
> Washing
- Ran 3 miles
- Dressing recipe: 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar. Pinch of salt. Black pepper.

The idea is to things brief using bullet points and the symbols from your key. Obviously you can write as much or little as you'd like, but using the bullet points as a basis ensures that you can log things clearly and quickly. As Ryder says on his website 'Note-taking and traditional journaling take time; the more complex the entry, the more effort is expended. The more effort expended, the more of a chore it becomes, the more likely you’ll underutilize or abandon your journal.'

One of my favourite elements of BuJo-ing is the 'collections', these are just pages outwith your monthly/weekly/daily log on any topic you care to think up (arguably your monthlies/weeklies/dailies are collections in themselves). They can be inserted anywhere in your journal though I like to add some collections at the back of my journal such as my 'money tree', where I regularly fill in how much money is in my savings.  Lots of people find 'habit trackers' to be a useful collection, to promote good habits such as exercise, saving money or self-care. There are so many ideas online and I have noted some below to get you started, click the links below if you're interested in seeing some examples from brilliant BuJo-ers around the world:

Ideas for everyone:

Fig. 10: Collection example - Birthdays!

Some ideas if you're a student/researcher/writer:

So there you have it. My introduction to the wonderful world of bullet journaling. Whatever your interests, research or otherwise (baking...writing music....) it's a great way to organise your thoughts, set goals and generally get shit done. If you're not the greatest artist it really doesn't matter, there are plenty of perfectly lovely monochrome journals. If you are it's an excuse to get really creative and have fun with it, if you've never tried it hopefully I've manage to pique your interest a little bit. If you do decide to give it a try I'd love to hear about it! You can tweet me @emhistblog or comment below.

Em has done a post about how she's set up her BuJo which you can read here.
Figure 1: Unknown, 'Lady Writing at a Desk' (1530s) from the Web Gallery of Art

Copyright © 2018 E.JH