2021: A bullet journal year

The 9 months of 2020 spent under varying degrees of lockdown, here in our state (and still ongoing) went by both too quickly and too slowly. Time passed in both a blur and in slow motion. Speaking with a friend last week, we talked about how to reframe the stresses of lockdown as signs (however small) of our relative safety. In his 60s, he told me that the repetition of daily tasks, as monotonous as they can feel, can be taken as a sign that we’re safe, at home, have resources, and are at least some degree of physically well. Reflecting on my own days, I resolved to be a bit more mindful in my daily life, moving forward — to cultivate more awareness and gratitude for the good things.

Enter bullet journaling. I’m quite late to the BUJO party, but am slowly discovering the joy and practical benefits of it during this time. As a beginner, I haven’t yet invented any complex or detailed notation systems. For now, I’m exploring it as a creative space, and a tool where I can track certain things (like mood, books to read/recommended to me, albums to listen to, blog post ideas, painting ideas, and the like). Using the journal in this way for the first 2 weeks of January has been helping me find a space of calm and agency in the midst of…things (so many things in this collective moment we’re in). Specifically, journaling is helping me to:

  • become more aware of where my time goes and provide a record of what I did
  • discover patterns in mood, focus, and energy so that I can work in ways that (as much as possible) align with my capacity
  • set small, concrete goals
  • recognize and acknowledge the things done (I don’t do that enough)
  • keep track of exercise + regulate sleep, and
  • create a space where new ideas and drawings can roam free (and inspire future projects)

By the end of the year, I hope to have a record that I can look back on. Time need not feel lost.

The Week

As a beginner, my building block is the week. The week has become the semi-colon in my punctuation of time. It’s not the end of the sentence, not the full stop (would that be the month, the year?). But it’s a breath. It affords pause, review, and reflection. My conversations with friends have revealed that one of the great challenges of staying and/or working from home (an affordance we are lucky for) is differentiating time. It’s hard moving into a state of focused work when ‘work’ used to be a place to go, not just a thing to do. The bullet journal is helping me to break up the feeling of all that time into parts — and in ways that don’t feel coldly managerial, but creative. Visually, I’ve started to give each week and its days a theme — something small to enjoy. For this week’s theme, I drew flowers and mushrooms with a Venus-Fly-Trap-inspired palette (which I love, and which will definitely be used for a later project). It felt like doodling in my trusty sketchbook, but with a practical end product. πŸ™‚ I hope they make you smile.

As for the full page, I’m discovering that I like logging things in long ‘column’ form. I use a dotted notebook which allows for the design of different boxes and grids. The vertical columns allow me enough space to, say, make a simple To Do list at the top, then schedule chunks of time for specific items below. I also leave a space below or beside the days of the week to remind myself of other general things to remember — a quote, a deadline coming up, a birthday. I pair this weekly calendar + tracking with a general wall calendar for the big things (such as the wonderful printable 2021 Beastie calendar!) and am organizationally set. πŸ™‚

This week’s page. Click to zoom.

Well, that is my first foray into the BuJo world. Bullet journaling is very much my response to having lived most of my recent years in unstructured time, and wanting to find a new way to plan and be intentional! I’ll plan to share some of my favourite journal pages in upcoming posts, and hope that I can stick with this practice throughout 2021. Feel free to share your own organization practices in the comments. I’d love to hear them!

Until next time. πŸ““ ✏️

12 thoughts on “2021: A bullet journal year

  1. Oh wow, your journal is such a pretty and inspiring place, Shirley! I especially love the little mushrooms that are peeping through the flowers. I don’t do bullet journaling (I suspect the temptation to spend an entire day perfecting my layout would supersede all other goals πŸ˜‚) but I do love my paper diary and would be lost without it! It’s full of important dates, to-do lists and jotted-down song titles of any interesting music I hear on the radio during the day. Thanks for shouting out the Beastie calendar too! I hope it’s coming in handy 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Helen! How cool that the Beastie biz is aided by paper diary, and that it also includes a place for overheard songs. I’ve found paper organizing very essential — we all need a place to jot things down. The Beastie calendar is so very handy and beautiful. Each photo is lovely (I remember some of the snapshots), though my favourite month has to be July (is that the Causeway?). I hope you had a good weekend. πŸ™‚

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    1. Those are some eagle eyes you have there! Yes, July’s picture is the Giant’s Causeway. And I totally agree about paper organisation – it’s so much easier to refer back to written notes, and so much more satisfying to tick things off on paper somehow too! Hope you also had a lovely weekend 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your flowers and mushrooms certainly made me smile. What a beautiful way to start your week ( and year ). Thank you for explaining how and why a BUJO works. This is much more creative than scribbled lists on a cheap diary (my way of trying to keep track of myself).

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