Embarrassing Preface: I have not broken out my “real” camera to photograph my kids in MONTHS. But this morning? I dug it out to – basically – take pictures of a notebook I carry in my purse. For a blog entry I’m writing about that notebook. To celebrate that notebook’s birthday. Do I write blog entries celebrating my kid’s birthdays? Not usually. I feel like this little tidbit says more about me than I would like it to.
I did it. I stuck with one calendar/planner for an ENTIRE YEAR. I have never done that before. EVER. IN MY LIFE. I kinda thought I was just compulsive in that I could never use the same system for a whole year, like it was a quirky habit I had no control over. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars over the years buying new calendars or planners before the year was over. And – of course – I always bought a new one New Year’s Day! I’ve bought nice leather bound planners in the years before you could buy cute ones and I would just buy a new set of refills a few times a year. I’ve bought custom planners with pictures of my kids and replaced THOSE partway through the year. Nothing ever lasts because nothing every works completely. I always need two things: A calendar and a notepad of some sort for my constant list making. And finally, I found something that satisfies BOTH needs and takes less than half of a year to fill up so I still get to “start over” periodically. WIN/WIN/WIN/WIN.
I had actually tested out this system for a little while with cheaper notebooks before August 29th. However, once I realized it might stick and figured out what worked and what didn’t, I forked out the big bucks for the $18 Moleskine to start 9/1/2013. I started it a few days early to give myself time to add all of the pages I needed – hence the August 29th “start” day. I used that Moleskine until the end of the year and, even though it wasn’t full, used January 1st as an excuse to start a new one with the habits I had solidified in the previous months. In those next few months I really implemented the system to personalize the method for me.
I filled up the second one in June – a perfect 6-month cycle – and decided to store them in a way on my shelf so that they could A) Be easily found and B) Be displayed to show off their AWESOMENESS. With Volume 3 I made a few changes/additions to the method. The most significant change was that I started using the bullet journal as a scrapbook. A place to keep all of those wonderful things that pop up in my life that I know I want to look back on, but am not crafty or creative enough to ever do anything with. I have looked back on these type of pages so many times, it’s shocked me that I never considered this before.
Of course, this means the pages hold a lot more stuff and so the discovery that my Molekine fit my old Kindle cover was INTEGRAL in my process. It keeps the book bound tighter than the tiny elastic that came with it AND it makes it look more professional for when I don’t want to show the world my obsession with stickers.
But even with all that extra stuff – the scrapbook additions and the fancy cover – it’s still the calendar portion I use the most. And while I still get soooo busy some days I just kinda forget to look at it, it still has helped me manage the chaos in my life so much better! The weakest link in my productive life now (besides the fact that I can’t find extra hours in my day) is that I’m still not the best at skimming emails. I’m still notoriously bad about archiving something without ever seeing an important date or event in the body of the email. BUT! If I see it and manage to get it in the bullet journal as an event/task to remember – the chances are DAMN GOOD that I’ll actually do it.
And – best of all – the bullet journal system gives me a completely valid reason to buy/obsess over/use stickers and colored pens. Things that make me so happy but that I always found a hard time justifying buying until now. I decorate my pages with the stickers AND am now the coolest adult in the room to the kids because I often have Frozen AND Avengers swag to hand out. And this kind of stuff just brings me joy. It’s silly, I know, but I have found that silly is important in my life. Keeping the silly in, however I can, seems to help ground me when the stress gets overwhelming. Too much to do, too little time to do it, but plenty of pretty ink and awesome stickers to decorate the chaotic schedule with.
I don’t declare that the Bullet Journal system is perfect for everyone. I always ask, “Are you a chronic list maker? Do you depend on pen/paper, actually prefer it over digital?” before I’ll even suggest it. But man – if you are a chronic list maker and you do like/need to write things down? I can not recommend this system enough. And OBVIOUSLY it’s uber-customizable. I have a page for my Library Volunteer Schedule and a page for my kid’s Soccer Schedule. I have a page for my blog ideas and my 50-mile training. I have a page to keep notes about our Ironman trip and our Wizarding World of Harry Potter trip. It’s all mine and I hope it becomes a great nostalgic resource for my kids years down the road.
Happy Birthday, Bullet Journal. Thanks for helping me remember shit.