The One With the Bullet Journal

I am a person who writes lists. Everywhere and about every conceivable subject. I have, at any given time, about half a dozen notebooks in handbags, in office and at home, each of them an absolute, non-curated mess of lists, quotes, anecdotes and notes to self. I am also a person who needs to have a paper calendar to write things down. I have to use the electronic outlook-version for work-stuff, but I find it unreliable, frequently out of sync and I don’t seem to get the necessary overview of things. Therefore I also haul around a calendar. In 2018 all this is about to change (I also have a sense of drama).

I came across the concept of bullet journal already some time ago, but didn’t pay that close an attention given that I was quite content with my Smythson and the herd of other notebooks. Last December I decided that I might as well give bullet journaling a try come January 2018, given that it was hailed as the solution for all people who are obsessive list-makers, who like stationery and love planners and want to keep track of different sorts of things (I was sold when I saw that someone had made a monthly tracker for all the vitamins and supplements she was taking. How genius! Who doesn’t want to read old diaries just to check whether vitamin D was taken every day in March 2005!). I bought a hardcover Leuchtturm -bullet journal, got my stash of pens (finally there seemed to be some purpose for the gazillions of pens I had been hoarding for years!) (this isn’t the full truth: I also bought new pens just for this exercise) and set to work, with the help of special bullet journal websites that walk you through it.

What I found out very soon in the process was that putting together a bullet journal is no free-styling with fancy pens and Japanese washi-tapes. No, the bullet journal- directive is all about different logs, indexing and various signifiers. You have to get this bit right in the beginning to have the correct set-up for the rest of the journal, otherwise, apparently, your year will be a miserable mess. I foolishly thought that the creation of the wee little signifiers for tasks and their eventual migration (in case you don’t accomplish them the day/week you were supposed to)  cannot really be that complicated. I still have no idea how it works. I also don’t like reading instructions, which might explain this part.

It’s my fourth day of bullet journaling, and my relationship with the Leuchtturm (below) is hostile at best. I torture myself by visiting bullet journal websites to marvel at the stationery-porn of absolutely stunning journals that people have created out of blank notebooks.  I look a bit closer, see the peculiar little signifiers next to the various tasks they have written down, and cannot get my head round why these are needed and why I don’t get them.Then I return to my own miserable Leuchtturm and stare at the only entry on page 18 (all pages in a bullet journal are numbered for easy reference) that says “Wednesday: Pick up dry-cleaning”. It’s Thursday today and I did not pick up dry-cleaning yesterday, so I should have migrated the task by using a special signifier for this eventuality, except that I don’t know how those little b****rds work.


Are there any good sides to bullet journals? Well, I’m extremely fussy about journals and diaries, and the standard versions never seem to have enough space for my own writing. I cannot deal with diaries that have one day per view, because they make it maddeningly difficult to visualise a week. On the other hand they would have plenty of space to write things down. See, fussy. In the past the (ultimate first world) problem has been that in  addition to the main journal/calendar I still needed various other notebooks to contain all the lists that do not fit in the main journal/calendar. I thought bullet journal would be my jam precisely because I could have everything in there, as I’m the editorial executive of the 247 pages. 

I realise I’m making a bit of a mountain out of a notebook so I shall leave the rant at this. Not being a quitter I shall give my Leuchtturm another chance (I’m thinking end of January – I’ll try get the hang of the bloody signifiers by then, and if not, it’s still not too late to get another Smythson for the rest of the year). I will report back. And if there are any bullet journaling aficionados among you, please let me know if there’s hope. Please.

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