Bullet journaling: Get to the point

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 15, 2018

By DeirdreParker Smith

Bullet journaling may be too much of an effort for you, but it’s a hot trend that has already produced how-to books and paraphernalia to help you make you journal look great.

What, you ask, is a bullet journal? That’s what the 20 or so folks asked at a workshop Jan. 9 at Rowan Public Library.

The explanation left some of them still wondering what it was, but Abby Hardison used a powerpoint demonstration to show them.

A bullet journal is whatever you make of it. You start with a blank book, and you create the journal/day planner/fitness tracker/birthday dates/doctor appointments/drink water reminder calendar any way you want.

Some people use a day in the book for each day of the week, laying out what they want to keep track of, like the weather, fitness goals, to-do lists and events.

Some folks put a week on a page, or two facing pages, separating morning, afternoon and night to organize the day.

Some people leave a dedicated space for doodling or whole pages for doodling.

You can go simple, like a desk calendar, with a month at a time, separated in date blocks. All you have to do is write down what you want to remember.

Color is key to such a journal, Hardison said and showed.

And a key is key to a bullet journal.

Keys can be something like a list of symbols with different meanings, such as an open box for to-do items, a colored-in box meaning the task is done. If something is postponed, use a symbol such as a box with an arrow through it.

You get to decide what symbols to use and what they mean.

“Some people want to track everything, some only want to do a few things,” Hardison explained.

Some of the folks there weren’t sure what they wanted to do. Passing around the how-to books, full of examples, helped participants to focus.

If you are really serious about changing your diet, a bullet journal can track what you eat and when, and how you were feeling at the time.

You could include a way to keep track of your resolutions and what Hardison called a “worry diary and worry fixer” — write down what you worry about and why, then figure out what to do to fix it, which may be as simple as writing it in your journal.

“The hard part in creating it is it’s all up to you.” Hardison said. “It’s your perfect book.”

Day planners and food diaries are out there, but do you need a different book for everything? Do you need one notebook for the books you’ve read and what you thought, and one for appointments and one for writing down what you eat and one for work obligations? You can create one book that has a space, a key, and an index for all that.

As one woman suggested, it’s like Pinterest, but in something you can carry around and use without a phone or computer or iPad.

“People who like scrapbooking find this fun,” Hardison said. “It’s good for people with a million to-do lists. … People who are into goal setting and like a planner, or want to like a planner, can do this.”

Hardison suggest some sort of spiral notebook, where pages lie flat, as the easiest blank canvas. She also suggests numbering pages for quick reference, or using colored tabs fashioned from sticky notes.

“Do a packing list for when you travel. Start it now before vacation time starts.”

Another suggestion is to have an analysis page for each month, so you can see what you did and what you might want to change.

Small, cut out calendars can be helpful throughout the book.

Deirdre Parker Smith/Salisbury Post A page with several examples of what could be done in a bullet journal. At left is a month-long exercise tracker. Below at right is a sunburst for adding things the journalist is thankful for.

Hardison said the bullet journal is good for tracking how often you do something, like go to the library or exercise or drink.

Leave a space to record what movies you saw and why you liked or disliked them.

She showed an example of a gratitude sunburst, made with the help of a stencil. Each ray named something the person was grateful for.

Jan Debeaumont does a version of a bullet journal already, with a lot of sticky notes on her desktop.

When she wakes up at 2 or 3 in the morning, she starts thinking of all the things she has to do. Former secretary of the home school association, she had to schedule a lot of things.

Diane Folk, a teacher sees it more as a “list thing … a book that has all the books I want to read,” a short bucket list. “I see it as something that grows.

She already has a small month-at-a-glance calendar she carries that keeps her life pretty well organized, but she admits it’s the small things that fall through the cracks, recurring events, for example.

The idea of a “rant box” for each day or week appealed to her.

She is approaching the bullet journal as not really a daily or monthly thing, but “what do you refer to most.”

Hardison displayed markers, fancy tapes and stencils that can be used to design the journal that means the most to you.