I was looking through my old journals, as I’m doing a writing project on the year I was single, after many years of not being single. I set up a project box (a bright fuschia pink box sits beside me on my white desk, something I learned from Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit, though I don’t have space for an archive box.)
In the box I put the notebook I’m using, two Polaroid albums from that year, and three Bullet Journals. I’m writing about my life then and I need all the material I have to retell and reflect all I possibly can. Up until then, I was using the photo gallery I had saved as reminders of what next to write about but then my computer got an upgrade, my photos not in order and back we come to the box.
Three Bullet Journals could potentially hold key information! If you’re not familiar with Bullet Journaling it’s a type of journaling, you write, record, organise and schedule your life, it’s like a personal organiser that you drew and designed yourself. Looking through these books I had surprisingly mixed feelings. Some pages I just felt bad for and nothing bad had actually happened!
This is the thing about my journals, I keep them on a shelf like sketchbooks, one day I will or someone might open them and find all my inner feelings and wants of that year – Wow! What a read, you can learn more about a person that way then any photo will display. In truth lies beauty.
So while bullet journaling is for the present time, I also urge you to consider these as possible personal pages for your future Bullet Journal, so that looking back you have feelings of well-used space, personal essays and other stuff that makes you smile!
Here are some things I didn’t feel great about when reviewing my journals over 4 years:
Logs and To Do schedule columns and boxes, while this is great if you fill it in, over time it holds no meaning.
Collecting receipts e.g. from the post office, more obvious now I put them in a plastic wallet each month.
Writing stuff I felt I had to or doing drawings that were more set up than spontaneous. When you do an act of creativity, how you feel goes into that too and gets remembered years on.
Learning notes from podcasts, this may seem really useful but each journal seemed to contain the same, I was just learning and re-learning, what is better is when you apply and act on it in life then journal about it!
Each month I tried and failed at writing an ‘Inspiration of the month list’ because I never went back to that page.
I did a ‘month memories’ page with paper souvenirs and printed photos it seemed good then but I don’t get a warm fuzzy feeling from them.
So so so many blank pages! Some in the middle, most common at the end. When I first started journaling I wanted to know how others did it and I learned to use one journal to cover three months. This makes sense in splitting your year up into equal sections but only if you have that much content! Also, they’re not cheap so why not just carry on to the next month with the space you have? There are really no rules when it comes to Bullet Journaling, I wish I’d seen that then.
Onto the good things I recorded that I feel are honest and helpful tools that are great to look back on:
I called them ‘Adventure Journals’ in the beginning and made the cover page mine with either a printed photo, polaroid or word of the year.
Recording what I did that day such as tasks completed, self-love and success is far better than seeing a half ticked to do list.
At the very beginning I did monthly reviews – my successes, to work on, what sucked, lessons learned, grateful for and next month aim.
I also wrote out a future log with mini calendars for each month and the key things I was doing in them.
Getting a dotted Bullet Journal was a great move!
There was a time I was ill, so I used space to observe pain, symptoms and keep a daily food diary for an outcome of healing (it worked).
I started tracking my habits and activities with sheets from Boho Berry.
For the first time in adult life, I recorded my money on payday – salary, regular bills, other expenses, and money left over to spend.
I recorded fun stuff too – money magic (where the money would just come to me through manifesting), divine timing (incredible acts of synchronicity and more than coincidence), a page of gratitude I added to daily and affirmations.
Quotes I say work when they are singular, if you have a spread with 15 between them, the meaning of why it stuck out to you in the first place gets lost.
I recorded class material from an online painting workshop, wrote in-person workshop and festival notes with little drawings and a key thing to remember from it, simple is best.
With writing book notes I find it only to be necessary for books that have you have lot to take in from or themes to pick apart and understand, such as notes I made on New Earth Eckhart Tolle, Siddhartha and The Work by Byron Katie.
When I watched a movie at home I would pause and scribble in a quote, I now have a record of my favorite movies that year, far better than a ticket stub of something I went to see and can’t remember much about it.
I stuck in flyers of plays I went to see or ideas I followed up on and wrote about Artists dates I took myself on!
Wrote what I did daily on trips away and added little drawings.
Of course, my 40-day practice of a yoga pose/set trackers are there and most helpful were the notes I wrote after. What I did in 40 days, books I read, new habits, the last week, on day 40 and final takeaways. I later shortened these to New habit, magic, and miracle.
And finally what I got up to before on and just after my birthday is a fun reflection.
What a great big list! I hope it has been helpful in deciding what goes into your journal, though really it is down to you! Your journal is about you, your life the whole beautiful mess it may be or exciting chapter you’re on.
As this is list heavy and longer than I expected, I’m going to write what I use my bullet journal for now, in another post as it has more differences and delights that deserve a space of their own!