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Monday, August 29, 2016

Why the Bujo doesn't quite cut it and what I do about it

Bullet Journaling (Bujo) is a great thing for that place where journals and planners overlap...but for me, it's just too stripped down. I like the cleanness of one line per thing and a code to keep is straight, but I'm not a minimalist and it feels constricting and empty when I try to bullet journal the way it's intended to be. Too logical-brain.

I think I'm not the only one, and that's why so many of the bujos you see on Pinterest and Instagram are not just simple lists--they're practically illuminated manuscripts. They're mini life handbooks. People have taken the basic form of a stripped down planner system and made it pretty and individual and wonderful.

And for me, it's still too stripped down.

I journal through about a notebook a month (maybe month and a half, if things are slow). I keep all my scraps--magazine cut-outs and articles printed off websites, letters and lists, labels off things I really liked eating, scraps of wrapping paper off gifts, tags off things I want to remember brands and makes of, etc etc etc. I live listing things...and I also do the Artist's Way thing where I fill three pages every day with whatever is in my head. Sometimes more, if I have something to work through.

So the standard bullet journal, with one page for each thing doesn't work for me. I need something more expansive, since I'm not interested in having seven notebooks for different things running at once--in fact, I'm pretty specifically interested in the opposite of that. I used to have many individual notebooks, but I found that a) I never finished any of them, so they'd just always be laying around unfilled, and b) I could never seem to find the one I needed at any given moment. So I folded all of them back into one notebook in multiple volumes (currently on volume 27 since then), and things have gone much smoother. But it means that I fill pages too quickly for a standard Bujo set up, at least for me, and I'd be spending too much time copying stuff from old notebooks into the new ones, too much time indexing, too much time setting up.

I started keeping things I'd need to refer back to on loose sheets that I'd just move from notebook to notebook, and that works pretty well for planner and calendar stuff, but all the more esoteric life stuff--goals and quotes and lists of ways to live better--started piling up and getting unwieldy.

So I shifted again. Here's how I'm currently using a half-mutated Bujo system:

Each day gets a daily docket with the day's to-do list--and also the stuff I track every day: what's on tv, how much pain and itching I have, how much movement I manage, how much water I drink, whether I stay gluten free, the weather and temperature, and some sort of inspirational quote. I put moments of happiness and enjoyment in the to-do list as they happen, with a little heart instead of a box to check, making the list into a record of what I was supposed to do--and of unexpected things that happened.

After that are that day's morning pages and scrapbook pages. In between days are the lists and goals and plans that happen as they happen--and those that need to get remembered, I stick a page-tab to. The ones that need to be remembered more than a few days or weeks the notebook is active, I copy out and place into a life handbook.

I've learned, also, that a lot of the standards of Bujo life aren't for me: I can't do daily Gratitudes. I never remember to look for a calendar--so I stick one on my wall next to my desk where it can't hide from me, and everything that's day-dependent goes on the same one: reviews, deadlines, blog posts, moon cycles, events, holidays, birthdays, appointments, schedules--all of it. It's crowded, but I don't have to remember to flip through six different calendars for different stuff, and I'm not pinned to a specific page in a notebook I've moved on from (because I've been trying to fill notebooks so that I can start a new one at a new month for flipping ever, making all the mo they planning stuff work better, and it never works that way).

I also never remember to do a page log, an index, or a daily this-is-what-happened list. I love looking at those things in people's notebooks, and I have not yet figured out how to convince myself to do it. But I love journaling challenges and the cleanness of a bullet journal and the idea of specifically and mindfully collecting up things you need to keep your life in line with your values and goals. So I take a lot of the ideas for trackers and make them free-floating: monthly habit lists, chore lists, waiting on and wish lists, lists of blog posts, weekly and monthly review questions, weight trackers, meal plans, brain dumps that become to-do lists. While they're active, they float day to day; when they're done, I stick them into the pages where they belong.

It makes a journal that's way messier than intended for a Bujo, but as clearly day-to-day as the best Bujo ever. Before I discovered bullet journaling, there was next to no organization at all; now there's a huge amount of context and slice-of-life that makes everything make more sense. And now every day has a plan, and my life as a whole has checks and balances to keep me on track.

How have you modified that parts of the Bujo that don't work for you?

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