The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

07 March 2016

Of bullets and journals. And office supplies!

When you read the words 'bullet journal' do your eyes light up and do you have a reflexive impulse to reach for your washi tape? Or do you mentally go through the 12 steps of an addiction recovery program, giving thanks for having got out of the BuJo craze with sanity intact?

For those of you who's first thought was along the lines of "huh?", a bullet journal - or bullet journaling - is a life style devoted to...

I'm kidding.  Sure, if you do a web search of 'bullet journals' the results will give you page after page of blogs devoted to them, and YouTube is overflowing with people eager to show you just how they bullet journal. (Yes, it is both a noun and a verb.) You wouldn't think there could be that much to say about it, but there you go... I'm sure there are many dozens of channels devoted to this very thing and their videos are long.

What exactly is this bullet journal business? Well, let's being by talking office supplies. More specifically those office supplies designed to help organize, schedule, and track all the nitty gritty facets of life: agendas, notebooks, actual journals, blocks of sticky notes, calendars and such like. Do you ever find yourself standing in the store flipping through all the many varieties of agendas and notebooks monologuing about how you don't need a list of international calling codes, nor even, fun as it may be, a world map of time zones, but could really use more blank pages for all the lists you tend to write (the lists that include tasks already completed so you can cross something off. Ta da! I am efficient and productive in manner of terribly organized person.) Or perhaps you like the daily layout of this agenda but that one has a better monthly format? And what about the other one that is very nearly perfect but it's slightly too big and has a soft cover in the most vile shade of purple ever seen? And after careful selection you find yourself still writing lists in multiple notebooks and stuffing the agenda with sticky notes.

Bullet journaling is ... hmm.  Well, it's a system, I suppose. (I was going to say way of life) It is an endlessly customizable tool, to your precise specifications because you're the one who designs the layout, what goes into it, and how you run with it once you've made the choice of what notebook to use.  There is no special (ie. high-priced) 'official' journal you must use. I've seen tutorials and blog posts from people who use expensive German notebooks but also regular issue find-it-at-the dollar-store notebooks.

The idea is to set up what ever yearly, monthly, weekly, daily calendar pages you need, as well as keep lists, jot reminders, record special events, track goals, document expenses or any ol' thing that might be important to you.  There are certain elements that are common to bullet journals that make bullet journaling a 'thing' and distinguish it from a typical store-bought organizer. One is having an index, another is having a standard set of symbols to quickly inform you if a notation is a note, a task or what have you. While that may not sound like the bee's knees, once I thought it through I cottoned on to how brilliant it is.  Of course, the cottoning happened days after I first saw how some people were bullet journaling and near passed out from the anxiety attack.

You know how some people put their photos in an album but some people get all scrapbooky about it with the stickers and 3D embellishments and the perfect calligraphy? Well, there is a large contingent of bullet journalers who have bedazzled journaling to a whole 'nother level. They doodle like they have a PhD in doodle arts. They calligraphy as though taught by a medieval monk. Did you know there is such a thing as decorative tape? There is! Pretty sticky tape in gorgeous colours with designs in the Country Chic, or Barnyard Cute, or Modern Minimalist styles meant to make putting borders around your pages a breeze.  There is even an industry now that supplies notebook add-ons like ribbon bookmarks and pen loops. It seems there is no end to the possible embellishments possible, though I do believe there are people who are working diligently and hard to find that end.

And then these extreme bulleters give viewers or readers a tour through their most recent month of journaling. This is an actual thing people do!

I'm all for being organized. The Lord knows I have a thing for pretty office supplies. I look at some of those pictures and videos and think, "Gah!!" I mean, they sure are talented people and the results of their labour are gorgeous, but it stresses me out! I don't have Copperplate penmanship, I cannot doodle, and know beyond the shadow of a doubt that if I have to decorate a title page for every month (remember having to do title pages in elementary school?  Again, "Gah!") as well as make every single page pretty in colour-coordinated inks, I'd get no further than the middle of the first month - and that's being generous with myself.

The saving grace of all this is that I found a blog post today in which the author encourages moderation and keeping it simple. I love keeping it simple!  I realized after reading it that I am already using some of these principles in my current agenda, but now have ideas for how I might eliminate the proliferation of notebooks and sticky notes... as well as have some fun with whatever creative impulse happens to strike. I sure am tempted to buy a brand new book to give this a whirl, but in the spirit of keeping it simple I'll stick with what I've got.

Do you BuJo?  If so, are you extreme?  If not, are you the tiniest big tempted to find out what it's all about?

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