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. 🙂 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. 🙂

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. 📓 ✏️

Holiday paper craft, pt. 1: Notebooks

Witness messy desk in action. Holidays are always a great time of year for messy desk! I’ve tried to beautify messy desk for you, here. At its height, there are things of all kinds flying around — lists under pencils under ribbon under yarn. And that is how I like it — a sign that things are happening.

Recently, I’ve started making a few little handmade notebooks. I’m not sure why. But I love the idea of putting pages together (“binding”), then giving them a colourful cover. The books are tiny — small enough to fit in a hand or a purse, and perfect for jotting down wayward, passing, and therefore precious things. I simply use spare printer paper, cut it to size, add a cardstock cover, then fold and staple it all in the center. I apply a bit of masking tape to the spine to reinforce things and add a handsome blue edge.

Then my favourite part: designing a notebook cover. After doodling, I settled on these flowers using colour pencils. I never tire of the colours which, together, make me feel a little lighter — the drawing showcases flowers and colours at their most comedic, I think. So, a few notebooks and a card later…

Other than these notebooks, I have otherwise been busy making cards, cards, cards. I’ll look forward to a post on those soon. Until next time, happy making to you!

Earth laughs in flowers.

Ralph Waldo Emerson