Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Setting up your new Bullet Journal

If you haven't yet heard of the Bullet Journal, check out the blog post I put up yesterday and then come back here. Know the basics? Then let's jump in and see how I'm setting up my newest Bullet Journal.

Personally, I found that the Bullet Journal is the perfect system for me. It's a blend of a to-do list, a planner and a personal journal. You can make it anything you need it to be and it can change with your needs. Thinking of giving it a try? 

For this journal, I'm using this teal softcover dotted Moleskine journal (this one). The cover is so wonderfully soft and I'm excited to use dotted pages for the first time, they're still really hard to find in SA. This is the large size, which is approximately A5. As you can see in these photos there is a small amount of ghosting with my fineliners (which doesn't bother me at all) and no bleeding through. The journal has an elastic closure, a ribbon bookmark and an envelope pocket at the back for you to tuck things into.

Moleskines have a space up front for your details, plus a spot to offer a reward for returning it (I'm broke so hopefully good karma is enough!).

On the first page, I've put my key. I use three basic bullets for 99% of what goes in my BuJo: square boxes for tasks, circles for events or appointments and dots for notes. A single diagonal strike indicates I've started something, the second finishes the cross for a completed task or event. A horizontal strike out indicates something has been cancelled. If I don't finish something, I add a > mark once I've migrated that task to a new day. I also have a few signifiers to add emphasis to deadlines and important things, or mark ideas.

The next two pages are where I'm going to write my index.

Then, I have four pages for the traditional future log. Basically, if I have to plan something in advance, it gets jotted down in one of these boxes.

Now, let's start our first monthly log. On the left, I have the traditional monthly log where I note important events, deadlines, etc. I can add to this as the month goes on. On the right I have space to add my goals for the month, as well as any general notes. When you start a new month, look at your future log and add in anything you wrote down there.

As December is not going to be very busy work-wise, I've decided to have a little bit of fun with my weekly layout. I've drawn in boxes to write my daily logging in. I haven't put in a monthly habit tracker (because I know there aren't going to be many low-calorie, no-alcohol healthy days this month!) but have added a few weekly trackers for my mood, amount of sleep, step count and water intake. I've put in a box for weather tracking and just for fun decided to record my favourite songs this month.

Now, of course, you can go really simple and basic with your logging. I decided to spend 20 minutes or so drawing out this layout while watching some series just for fun but this is by no means an essential part of bullet journalling (you'll see the original bullet journal had nothing of the sort!).

Are you thinking of starting your own Bullet Journal? Let me know in the comments section! I often also post images of my journal on my personal instagram (@lauravlaeren) so follow me there if you are interested.

A quick update to this post to show you what the above spread looked like once it was filled in!

Monday, 5 December 2016

The "Bullet Journal" system: an introduction and overview of my first BuJo

It feels like you can't go anywhere these days without coming across the Bullet Journal, but from the outside it can seem like a very strange thing. What is the Bullet Journal? Well, as described by the official website, "The Bullet Journal is a customisation and forgiving organisation system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less." In the age of digital everything, it's an analogue system. Now, of course, this system will not work for everybody. But if you're someone that thrives on physically writing things down and is hopeless with digital planners or calendars, this is a system worth trying. Additionally, the high flexibility of the system is its major advantage. Hands up if you have spent an exorbitant amount of money on fancy and pretty planners or diaries, and then finished the year with them mostly empty - I know I have!

All you need to Bullet Journal is a notebook and a pen. Don't let the Instagram posts fool you: you don't need beautiful handwriting, the ability to artfully doodle or fancy layouts. In its original form, the name makes perfect sense: it's a journal in bullet points. Whether it's something you need to do, somewhere you need to go or a note you want to write down, it all gets jotted down in a list of bullet points as you go. Simple. This system is called Rapid Logging and is the basis of the Bullet Journal.

In addition to Rapid Logging on a daily basis, there are a few more elements to the Bullet Journal. You start off with an Index, so you can find anything you want. This means that you can just fill out your journal as you go along, no "saving pages" for something or trying to put everything in order. Just put things you want to find in the Index and you'll always know where they are. At the beginning, add a Future Log, basically a "year at a glance". You use this to write down anything you have to do in the future. Each month also starts with a Monthly Log, again, as an overview of the month or where you can write down anything non-date specific.

Want to see how the Bullet Journal started? Check out this video from the creator:

Maybe that seems a little complicated and a lot of effort, but I promise it is way way easy! Now, as I said earlier, the great advantage of this system is it's flexibility. Want to keep it simple? Do it. Love doodles, hand-lettering or fancy layouts? Do it. Want to do one this week and change next week? You got it. Additionally, the Bullet Journal (or BuJo - not BJ for obvious reasons!) community has tweaked the system and added to it.

To start off this series of blog posts on the Bullet Journal, here are a few photos of my first BuJo. To start off, because I wasn't sure if I would like the system, I used a thin notebook that I had at home already. (This one was actually bought at Masquerade in Franschoek.)

bullet journal getting started supplies

On the first page, I have the key of bullet symbols that I used. The original system uses simple bullet dots for tasks but I really like check-boxes as they just feel so damn satisfying to cross off! I also used circle bullets for events, appointments or meetings and the plain bullet dot for notes. Completed tasks or events got crossed off, cancelled things got struck out. If I hadn't done a task yesterday, once I had added it to today's list it got a > mark, indicating it had been migrated to a new day.

bullet journal key symbols

Here's a peak at my index. You'll notice that I actually started this BuJo on 16 July: midway through a month in the middle of the year! You never have to wait for the "right time" to start!

bullet journal index

Here are a few examples of what my monthly logs looked like. On the left hand side, I did the traditional BuJo calendar, on the right I had a page for monthly goals (as this was when I was writing my thesis).

bullet journal monthly log goals traditional

bullet journal monthly log goals traditional   bullet journal monthly log goals traditional

Now, to keep it simple, I divided my daily pages like you would a week-at-a-view diary as it was the simplest layout that could be done quickly and allowed me to plan a few days in advance, handy for my busy thesis-writing time. Obviously, you could just do this a day at a time, using as much space as you need each day (you'll see I have some wasted space in spots.) Maybe some days you just need a few lines, maybe other days you need a half a page, or a whole page. Because you do this as you go along, there's no wasted space, and you don't need to be confined to the amount of space allocated in a bought diary. Maybe you don't feel like planning and take some time off? When you get back, just carry on from where you left off, no blank pages left to judge you! I will be showing you some alternative layouts later in the week.

As you can see, some weeks I kept things monochrome, sometimes I used coloured pencils or fineliners to add some colour, sometimes I even used watercolour. Of course, it's entirely up to you if you want to decorate your BuJo or not. I quite liked having something new to look at each week!

In these logs (click the pictures to expand them) you can see how I used my task and event bullets. One thing I also did each day was record the weather, because I'm a nerd like that. In addition to the things I did, sometimes I also added notes, maybe about my energy, my mental health that day, a little anecdote. (Clearly, I also wasn't above using a gold star sticker when I achieved a big goal!)

bullet journal daily log weekly

bullet journal daily log weekly

bullet journal daily log weekly

bullet journal daily log weekly

bullet journal daily log weekly

One thing I also loved adding to my BuJo was a monthly habit tracker. I found this helped a lot with keeping my mental health on track and helping me keep healthy habits, from not oversleeping, to drinking enough water, not eating too much, trying to get my steps in or meeting my thesis goals for the day. I played around with colour but ultimately found it easier to stick to plain black.

bullet journal habit tracker

bullet journal habit tracker

bullet journal habit tracker

bullet journal habit tracker

(Spot that productive final month when I was up at 5 am every day!)

Another great thing I like about the Bullet Journal is that you can add random things whenever you want. Here, for example, I dedicated a whole page to keeping track of the packing and moving process last month.

bullet journal

Another thing I liked to add for a bit of fun was a bookshelf: in the beginning I drew a bunch of book outlines, and then every time I finished reading a book I wrote the title in on one (note a lot of really cheesy, kinda shitty chick-lit that I used as a mental cleanser from all the thesis writing!)

bullet journal

Interested in starting your own Bullet Journal? Come back tomorrow and I'll show you how I've started to set up my new journal! Feel free to leave any questions in the comment section below and I will do my best to answer them.

Friday, 2 December 2016

I wrote a thing

I finally finished writing my PhD thesis! *cue celebrations* 
This was a very long, very tough journey but I'm finally near the end! Now it's the wait to hear what my examiners think before I can finally be finished with my PhD. I'm still not exactly sure what my future holds which is scary but hopefully the new year will bring good news.