I’ve never been able to stick to writing a journal. I couldn’t do the ‘dear diary’ thing all the kids of TV shows were doing when I grew up. I was never very good at getting my thoughts out of my head. No wonder I have trouble expressing myself. It’s one of the main reasons I decided to start a blog as I wanted to share what I was doing and how I felt about things in a creative way. I am not the type of person to write and then edit. I say what I want to and hit publish, simple.
However I have always been a huge fan of lovely notebooks and funky colourful pens. I loved being in school at a time when computers were still only used for IT classes. I still find if I need to remember something I have to write it down. So all my lovely notebooks have often just had scribbles of random projects I’ve been working on over the years. However there has been a change in the last few months as I decided to have another go at a bullet journal.
So as I embark on starting a brand new Harry Potter Moleskine beauty of a notebook I thought I would share my set up for May with you.
Lets just take a moment to appreciate the stickers that are hidden in the pocket of the notebook and that I have chosen to stick on the very first page (you know the page that is attached the cover so is not really a usable page? Yeah that one.)
I start my bullet journal with a a date and key. I keep it as simple as possible and have chosen symbols that I already use when taking notes in work. I can always add to it if I need to, but after a few months I’ve found these are the ones I use.
Next up I like to have a view of the whole month. I like to know what I’m committed to already so I can plan my time well and make sure I get enough downtime to enjoy the fun things. I use one main colour per month and the other colours will pop up as nice bursts every so often. This way I can easily see which pages belong together if I ever need to look back.
The next section I include is a gratitude journal. I’ve always had trouble keeping up with these if I’ve kept them separate to my calendar, but have found this works really well. I limit myself to a sentence at most, but some days it’s just a word or two. It’s nice to look back on, but the use I get from this is that it makes me pause for a minute and think of something I’m grateful for. I also try to put down something different each day, but don’t worry about looking back at the previous months.
The next section is my master to-do list. This is for the big stuff I need to do each month. It might include the stuff I don’t have to do regularly, or one off things, or things for later in the month I might forget about otherwise. I keep the day to day stuff in a later section and I also have an app on my phone for reminders so I’m pretty well covered.
I then move on to some trackers. First up is a mood tracker. I find this really useful to remind myself how my mood fluctuates and that all feelings are temporary. I added a simple note section to this month as found it useful to look back on when talking to my therapist about any sudden dips and the possible triggers.
The next tracker I have is a habit tracker. I have chosen to pick four each month and see how I get on. The aim is not to do each one every single day, but look at routine and relate back to my mood tracker. This month i am going back to basics on a few things to bring back some good habits and also work on one (getting up) that has been a stumbling block this last month. This is also where all the colours come out!
I think I’ve put the next section in the wrong place and will rectify that next month as it is not really a tracker and I think should be at the start of the monthly section, rather than in the middle. I’ve been doing a monthly reflections page for the last few years as it is a nice way to spend half an hour with a coffee and just look back and forwards in order to focus on the now.
The next tracker is all about the money baby. I’m working really hard on curbing some unnecessary spending habits as I want to build an emergency fund and save for holidays and other fun stuff. I’ve found since the widespread use of contactless has happened I have become lax in keeping an eye on my spending. I’ve got my spending spreadsheet, the banking apps on my phone and use Money Dash Board, but right now find backing those up by writing each expenditure down makes me think things through. I used this tactic in university and it work really well, so I’m bring it back for 2017. It’s quite time consuming, so I don’t think it’s a permanent thing, but a useful tool to pull out of the box every so often.
I then have a section to focus on my blog. I’ve scaled my blogging down in the last year and my aim is one post a week as I really enjoy it, I just don’t always make the time with my job being busy. This allows me to think and plan ahead and it works really well.
The next section is also one I find extremely useful. I used to have my therapy session and then move on to something else and was getting super frustrated with forgetting what I’d been talking about the week before. Then I saw something like this somewhere I can’t now find and made it my own. I now spend 5-10 minutes after my session just noting down a few things and then before my next session I can recap.
Then comes the biggest section – the day to day bullet journal. This is where I note down anything I want to each day. I haven’t set myself a limit and just let myself free flow and go based on what I need each day, which means some days have 2 lines and others take up a page. I take a look in the morning to note down anything I need to do and then return in the evening to check those things off and note my thoughts/feelings/questions about the day. Like I said at the start I keep it simple and make it work for me.
The one thing I have found that the bullet journal doesn’t work for me with is random thoughts or working through things to make decision. So I also have to have a separate notebook to do this. I find this work for me as it also means I can use my phone notes section for random thoughts and not feel it must be transferred to the bullet journal.
There is loads of inspiration out there on what a bullet journal could do for you, but don’t be afraid to make it your own. I cannot be arsed with an index as I know I won’t keep it up to date, therefore I also don’t need to number the pages! I’m breaking the rules, but who cares, I don’t have enough fucks to give for that kind of thing.