I know what you’re thinking. You saw the title of this post and immediately thought, “Ew. Journaling?” But hear me out, this isn’t the kind of journaling that you are used to hearing about. I promise I’m not asking you to sit down before bed each night and write about your feelings and what you did during the day. Not that there is anything wrong with doing that. It’s actually been proven that journaling has powerful health benefits such as reduced stress, mood boosts, sharper memory, and stronger emotional functions. If you’d like to read more about the benefits of journaling, check out this link: https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/topics/live-well/2018/07/5-powerful-health-benefits-of-journaling/
The kind of journaling that I am going to be talking about today is called bullet journaling, and no, it does not involve guns (if you find yourself in need of some lead therapy, please go visit your local gun range). The reason that this type of journaling is called “bullet” journaling, is because this is a system where you tend to write in short or fragmented sentences using bullets, dashes, dots, or even a star if you wish, to mark the beginning of a sentence or note.
This journaling method was created by a man named Ryder Carroll and is intended “to help you track the past, order the present, and design the future. The Bullet Journal Method will show you how to go from passenger to pilot of your life through intentional living.” He wrote a whole book on it, which you can find in most of your local bookstores or on Amazon.
I started using the bullet journal method last year. I noticed the more I used it, the more productive I was. I became more aware of when I was accomplishing my goals and when I was not reaching them. One thing I like the most about the bullet journal is that I can write out my goals and the things that I want to achieve, and I don’t necessarily need to go back and mark them off. Sometimes, just writing them down and leaving the journal in a place where I can see it everyday helps to remind me what the goals are. So if you are someone who doesn’t like to journal everyday, this would be good for you. You could do it once a week if that was what pleased you.
Also, there are many ways to decorate bullet journals. Some people use stickers or write in calligraphy. Others keep it simple with just a black fine-tipped pen. Some people have buckets of accessories for bullet journaling, while others have just the journal and their favorite pen.
For me, I have a twenty pack of fine liner colored marker pens (pictured left), and a fifteen pack of Mildliners (pictured right). Mildliners are basically highlighters, but milder. Whoa. Did I just blow your mind? I also use a dotted moleskin journal, rather than a lined one. The dots help me if I am trying to draw a straight line or make a box, but aren’t overbearing like lines can be.
So what do I do in my bullet journal? What is the magic that helps me keep my shit together even when I feel like I’m falling apart? Well, first, at the beginning of each month I create my ‘monthly goals’ spread.
This is a time for me to sit down and reflect on what I want to work on or achieve in the upcoming month. In this case, for November, I wanted to work on eating healthier and eating in smaller portions. It’s very easy for my husband and I to get caught up in the “let’s go out to eat” cycle, where we find ourselves going out WAY more than we should be during the week. Not only are we spending money we should be saving, but we are eating less healthy meals, and restaurants tend to serve big portions.
I also wanted to be more active. Being a web developer, I spend a lot of my time sitting at my computer. Hours and hours a day. Right now, I work from home since I am in the middle of the course, so I have been walking outside or playing with my dogs for little breaks. I’ve also been attempting to get to the gym more. I’m not going to lie to you guys, I’ve been failing at the gym part. Rather than beating myself up about it though, I know that I am in a really busy time right now with the holidays, my final project for the course just starting, and trying to maintain a clean living environment in my home (haha, that’s another blog for another day).
My third goal was to post to my blog on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s. So far, I have been keeping up with this goal. I have found that the more I blog, the better I feel. Blogging is almost like journaling in a sense. My previous blogs have forced me to face some of the things I was going through and to deal with them.
My last goal was to watch less TV. Since I’m home basically all day, it’s really easy for me to turn on the TV while I work for background noise. However, doing that distracts me from my work and sometimes I’ll find myself sitting and watching the TV for an extended period of time. Instead of using the TV for background noise, I have started listening to music instead. I absolutely love music. I love a good song that can connect you to a memory, a feeling, a mood, or a dream. I find myself singing along and even (gasp) dancing around the house sometimes. And it feels good. My current favorite song is Higher Love by Kygo. Now, I have loved the original version of this song forever. I also loved the cover by Grace Grundy. But this version with Whitney just touches my soul in all the right places right now.
Once I do my monthly spread, I do a ‘habit tracker’ spread.
My habit tracker shifts from a monthly goal focus, to a daily goal focus. These are things that I want to be doing everyday that I either forget to do sometimes, or have trouble achieving due to lack of motivation or just I HATE DRINKING WATER. Ahem. Sorry, I don’t know where that came from. Yesterday when I took this picture, I put an ‘X’ in the water slot just to show you how I mark when I either do or don’t achieve that goal.
This habit tracker changes twice a month. I usually do fifteen days at a time. Halfway through the month I like to stop and see where I am at and adjust it accordingly. Some other habits I’ve had over time have been ‘write at least 500 words’, ‘sleep at least 6 hours’, ‘shoulder stretches’, or anything else that I want to do. You can make the tracker as long or short as you want. If you want to track what you do from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed you can do that too.
If you are trying to get in the habit of something or break a habit, a really good book to read is, The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. It’s really insightful and quite interesting.
After my habit tracker, I like to do an ‘important events’ spread, or some kind of monthly calendar where I can write down what events or appointments I have coming up.
Sometimes I make it look like a calendar. Sometimes I just list it out. It really depends how I’m feeling when I make it. That’s the beauty of a bullet journal. You can do it however you want and don’t have to do the same thing twice.
I keep all of these events on my phone calendar as well, so technically, there’s no need for me to write it out here. But again, sometimes just writing them down on paper helps to manifest them in my mind.
These are just a few of the types of spreads I’ve used over the past year to help me. The possibilities are literally endless for what you could do. I have done spreads for books I wanted to read during the month with a star rating and review. I have done spreads for the Christmas gifts I was getting for everyone. I did a spread for tracking my period–girls, this is actually a very helpful visual and it’s really neat to see your pattern, especially if your cycle isn’t always the same length each time.
If you want to learn more about bullet journaling, feel free to ask me any questions. There are tons of videos on Youtube of people showing you how they bullet journal and giving ideas for spreads. There are books you can buy that also give you ideas for spreads you can do. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Google ‘bullet journal’ and you will see that mine are very simple compared to some of the ones other people do. If you like to color you can decorate your spreads and make them beautiful and artistic.
If you are going to try bullet journaling, I would recommend trying to commit to it for at least a month. When the month is over, reflect on how it has impacted your life. Do you feel like you’ve been more mindful? Have you achieved more than you did the previous month? If it was successful, share your experience with other people! You never know who could benefit from it!