Last January, the Bullet Journal started making the rounds on Twitter, and along with loads of other people, I thought this is amazing. I finally understood how always keeping a notebook with me – the oft-cited single-most-important thing for a writer to do – could actually be useful. And useful it has been. A year later, I’m well into my second notebook, and since my first blog post about using this system quickly became one of the most popular blog posts I’ve ever written, I thought another follow-up would be a good idea.
I’ve never been fancy about how I use my bullet journal, though I did use it as an excuse to buy a nice fountain pen. I use it mostly for daily to-do lists, and I capture things like social events and other milestones in those lists, too, since this is the only kind of diary I keep, so why not.
Since I keep track of pretty much every time/date-related event in Google calendars, I don’t use the monthly spreads, but I do use two so-called collections: one for my 2015 #yearofmaking (this takes the place of the daily log worksheet in the ebook), and one for books I’ve read (even though I also keep track of this on Goodreads; for some reason, the redundancy seems to make sense).
Though I did a fair bit of doodling in my first bullet journal, I’ve fallen out of the habit, preferring to doodle in sketchbooks instead. But I did finally become comfortable making random notes in my journal. For example, we’re planning a five-week camping trip for the late spring. When Greg and I started hammering out our itinerary, I made a mess of lists over a spread in my journal. It’s the kind of thing I would ordinarily use scrap paper for, but I’m really glad I didn’t, because I’ve referred back to that mess a few times already, and I’m sure I’ll need to look at it more as we start finalizing our plans. See that? What would have been treated as disposable and, eventually, missed, ended up usable because I scrawled it in my bullet journal. Immensely useful.
I also make lots of notes about soap-making and other skin-care recipes. So much so that it all became a bit unwieldy, and I decided to dedicate a separate notebook to those. Once I finalize a recipe through various iterations in my bullet journal, I transfer it to the separate notebook. This way I don’t have to sift through all the versions, even if they are marked down in the index, and if I happen to get sticky or oily stuff on the notebook, well, at least I don’t have to then go and put it in my bag after.
Someone mentioned on Twitter a while back that they’ve taken to wrapping washi tape along the edge of pages they want to mark in their bullet journal. I wish I could find who that was (
speak up if you’re reading! it was fallenpeach!), because it’s such a brilliant idea. I’ve marked my year of making log in washi tape so it’s really easy to find (you can see it in the photo, above), and I’ve marked my books list with a different colour.
To sum up, I’m still using this system, I’m still doing it the way that works for me (which means jettisoning quite a bit of what the original website lays out), and I’m still very pleased with it.
Over the last year, I’ve grown to trust that I always have my journal with me, and I’ve delighted in only rarely losing some or another important note I wanted to keep track of. That’s a huge change for me, and one that never stops feeling pretty spectacular.
Do you keep a bullet journal? Chime in with your own update in the comments!