Try it, they said.
It’ll be fun, they said.
Your life will be so much more organized and productive, they said.
I don’t believe it for a minute.
So very innocently I was reading a group thread for people who work at what I work at. We are a consortium of rule following, organization loving, administratively bent people who are good at paying attention to detail and get more excited than reasonably necessary over fresh stationary supplies and new post it notes. On this particular day, someone harmless threw out to the group the following question: “Does anyone use a bullet journal?”
A what? I had no clue what they were talking about, but everyone else seemed to and I suddenly felt like the odd man out. The people who loved them REALLY loved them and talked about how much better they were than regular agendas. I hadn’t used an agenda in years-thank-you Apple iPhone, but I did use a journal at work to track everything I do and quite frankly I had become suspicious that there must be a better way to do this after a decade of using the same format. The same boring format.
My internet research tells me that bullet journals are a big deal and I finally understand why I’m seeing journals pop up with dots or graph papers instead of lines. They are highly customizable and depending on the source of info you are reading they can do pretty much everything to improve your quality of life except maybe clean your toilet. But my suspicion and evidence from years of self knowledge tell me this: an organizational system is only as good as the person who uses it, and beware of fads designed to take your money and make you believe you have some sort of brilliant tiger inside of you waiting to get out. In this case, the tiger of craftiness and organizational zen had a baby, named it bullet journal, and has now asked me to give them money to raise her.
Convinced that I’m not crafty in the least, and honest with myself that I don’t have time to sit at my table and hand draw calendars and charts and spreadsheets, do you know what I did? I called my friend Amazon and had her send me a box of stationary and craft supplies that I would bet money I no longer have because I spend it on a notebook made in Germany, that I will never see the last page of. That is how terribly much I believe in my skills here people.
So why would I do all of the research, decide it’s not for me, and jump in anyway?
Screens. I’m tired of living with a phone in my hand. I want to decrease the time I spend with technology and increase the time I spend talking to real people, not getting twitchy every time my phone dings as though I’m one of Pavlov’s trained dogs. Flat out I want to peel away a bit of the digital world and rediscover a bit of the analogue. Who’s in? I have kids living at home for not too terribly much longer and I want them to remember me as someone who sat across the table and entered into real conversation with them, without distraction.
So do you want to know they very first thing I did with my journal? Put the supplies on top and look at it for an entire day terrified to open it and put pen to paper. For real, I had serious anxiety about making a mistake on the first page and ruining the entire thing. Because clearly I need to chill out. The second thing I did was spend half of my free time today watching videos and scouring Pinterest to find how to instructions on starting a bullet journal. Let me point out the irony in that I spent money buying something to reduce my screen dependence, and spent all day on my tablet finding out how to use it. For the love, seriously, what is wrong with me?
Anyway, I think I found the idiots guide and spent the better part of two hours tonight organizing the first few pages along with a single month at a glance spread, and, the next 7 days. Next week I’ll have to do it again for the following week. And I did make a hideous mistake that will be glaring only to me, but I assure you that it will niggle in the back of my head from now until I finish this journal-if I get that far.
I won’t even go into what my book looks like compared to what the Internet says it should look like. It’s just like in grade two when Jeff T used to draw Peanuts characters perfectly on his papers in class, and all I could draw was a stick figure. I’m pretty sure God took the spot in my brain for creative arts and used it to give me extra ability to do paperwork. I think I got the short end of that stick. But I digress, my beautiful contribution happened to be squiggly lines and a stencilled banner, that counts.
Hope however is not lost, as I started creating my week at a glance layout my mind started to tweak ever so slightly and I started to see where maybe, just maybe this might work. That the way I organize and fill out these spreads, the information I track and the reminders and ideas I collect could actually evolve to be a really useful, satisfying tool. One that keeps me in an analogue world.
And in the mean time I get to play with coloured markers.