Experimenting With The Bullet Journal

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I’ve kept journals ever since I can remember. Some have been pure diaries, some have been travelogues, and others have been more task/time management oriented. I’ve used everything from spiral notebooks to the really nice Moleskine books and I’ve tried (and rejected) quite a few apps and programs. (There’s just something about using a pen and paper that I find soothing and more supportive of deep thinking. Plus, I spend all day on a computer so I’m not really jazzed about spending more time journaling on the computer or tablet.)

Anyway, a few years ago, I moved from standard text journaling to art journaling. I thought it would be a way to boost my creativity. Now, I’m certainly no artist. At best I’m a doodler. But I do enjoy combining my words with colors, images, and collages that represent what I’m thinking and feeling. Then came the explosion of smash books and Wreck This Journal-type journals and my creativity really began to explode. I started cramming books full of all kinds of stuff and really enjoying the process. But it came with a downside.

Actually two downsides. The first is that it’s time consuming. I’ve found that I really only have time to create two really nice art journal entries a week. That’s problematic for someone who likes to keep a daily record of events. I end up supplementing my art entries with basic text and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I wish  it didn’t have to be that way.

Second, it became more about the look of the thing than the content of the thoughts. Once I discovered Pinterest and started seeing all these amazing designs that people were creating, I got competitive. And when my lack of artistic talent made it so I couldn’t keep up with these fabulous artists, I got frustrated and found myself journaling less and less. I know I should be bigger than that and able to just say, “It’s my journal and I’m happy regardless,” but I’m not that person.


An example of an art journal


The beginnings of a smash book

Enter the Bullet Journal. This is really a productivity and time management system, similar to the old-school Filofaxes and Day Runners that populated the late 80’s and much of the 90’s, except instead of using pre-printed sheets that you buy for every conceivable circumstance, you create your own. The basic idea is that you take a blank notebook of your choice and, using a system of icons, track your tasks, events, notes, etc. You create separate pages to track by the day, week, month and further into the future. The trick is that your entries are short bullet points rather than exhaustive accounts and you write them down as you think of them instead of setting aside “planning time.”

Now, I have no intention of using this system as described by its designer because I’m not looking for a time management tool. What I want to do is to incorporate the idea of short bullet point journal entries with art and smashing to make it easier to be both creative and thoughtful. Granted, there are some things that are still going to require a wall of text to work through. For the “heavy life stuff” I’ll stick with text entries, perhaps augmented with a few doodles or done on special paper. But for the day to day stuff and ideas, bullet points will work fine, I think. The idea of being able to journal as I go through the day and as I think of things is also really appealing. Since I’ll only be putting down short points, I won’t have to find a block of time to sit down and journal.

I hope that scaling back on both my text and my art/smashing will enable me to enjoy both a bit more. I don’t know that it’ll do anything about my competitiveness, but I’m purposefully not looking for images of nicely done bullet journals. I’m just looking for a way to bring back the enjoyment of journaling without having to give up the artistic parts that I’ve come to enjoy. I’ll keep you posted and post some pictures of my own work as I go along.


(Photos courtesy of JamesDeMers, werner22brigitte, Sh1ra)


1 thought on “Experimenting With The Bullet Journal

  1. Pingback: 31 Ways to Boost Your Creativity | Jennifer Derrick

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