You know, I’ve seen a few articles and blog posts about perfectly laid out bullet journals with beautiful calligraphy and artistically done pages. You know the ones. These articles make it seem like you have to do it perfectly to even have one, but in my opinion that misses the point of a bullet journal completely. The journal is supposed to be yours, not a competition on who writes and draws the prettiest. It’s also meant to be useful. It’s a practical tool for every day use. I use mine to keep track pretty much everything – meaning my earlier loose notes “systems” are gone forever, and I have everything I need in one portable place.
Yes, that is Smaug
You might ask why a chronically ill housebound person needs a bullet journal in the first place. Well – I have memory problems and I use mine to make notes of what I’ve done or seen or read. I have lists of questions to ask my doctors. I write down what prescriptions I need refilling. I write down important phone conversations. I have a summary page for each month that I write down things that happened in the world, and to me personally.
And as everyone else I have administrative stuff to get through – I have to change my phone company, call insurance, write someone a birthday card. I have medical appointments, someone is visiting me, there are builders coming and the heating company is turning of all the hot water for a day to fix something gone wrong.
My monthly layout
I have a habit tracker to see patterns so I can simplify my life better. I track the weather and have a box each day to track medical symptoms and pain. That part is a bit complicated at the moment, I’m trying to see if I can find triggers for certain things that keeps happening. I’ll simplify it again when I figure it out.
Very tidy day layout
I use an unlined moleskine journal for now, but next time I’m getting a dot matrix one to make some things easier to do (like write straight) and my lines a little less wobbly. In the moleskine journals the pens I like to use also seem to bleed through the paper a bit too easily so any recommendations for better journals would be great.
Even messier layout
I colour and doodle on my pages. Other people do not. Some journals, like the basic starter journal on bulletjournal.com does not but it makes me happy to add colour. YMMV. I’m not the best artist but the doodles that take me a couple of minutes makes my journal colourful and fun to me. I use “ruined” pages for notes and make them useful anyway. I write down shopping lists and ideas on half used pages.
It took a few months to find the best layout for my day to day pages, and now I really like them. At the end of the year I’ll have a physical reminder of what happened, and with my memory problems that makes a big difference. I can go back and check when something happened, what was agreed to in a phone conversation and when I sent in some paperwork to whoever.
I make a doodle page for each month. I’m not brilliant at drawing stuff, I have to look at what other people do and copy them. I use a pencil and trace with a pen after, and still some things turns out pretty bad. I dont mind at all, I just put some colour on it and have a laugh. I also make doodles on the day pages. Maybe I saw a cat through the window, or read about ants.
Most importantly, this is a system that works for me precisely because it’s so adaptable. It might not work for you at all, or it might need a completely different layout than mine to be functional. You might need a full page for a day if you have lots of stuff to do, you might need less. Before I tried the system for myself I figured it was overhyped but as it turned out it was exactly what I needed.
Sorry about the pictures by the way. I’m not much of an photographer either as it turns out.