Some of you may or may not remember (I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t) that, a while back, I did a blog post on bullet journals and how I had bought one in the effort to (essentially) get more shit done. I’m a fairly organised person as a rule and I love a good bit of stationery but I sometimes do end up just not doing things because I forgot I had a momentary inclination to do it. Writing ‘to do’ lists obviously combats that forgetfulness and having a system in which you get to tick off or colour in tasks you’ve completed helps to combat laziness by creating a visual representation of productivity (or lack thereof).
Well, that post was drafted for weeks and then I fell off the wagon with using my bujo and my post ended up spiraling from there into me musing whether I was using a bullet journal to its full potential (spoiler alert: I wasn’t). In an attempt to get back on the wagon, I have recently picked up my bullet journal for the month of May with a renewed determination to use it productively.
However, whilst drawing up my May monthly spread, I realised I hadn’t used the previous month’s tracker at all and then thought ‘well, hey, do I actually want a tracker?’ It seems pretty pointless for me to have a tracker which includes daily tasks like ‘make bed’ or ‘read’ because I do that every day anyway – it’s a habit that has formed through repetition. But at some point (presumably) I had to develop that habit and make it a priority. Can trackers be a way to visually make certain tasks/habits a priority?
And once again we come up against another crux of the matter:
- Are trackers only seemingly pointless for me because I’m tracking things I already do regularly?
- I’m using trackers essentially as a way to get into habits – is this the “right way” to use them?
- Would I prioritise different things in my life if I made the effort to track them? (Not wanting to “break the chain” mentality etc.)
- Do I often fail to develop some habits because I don’t prioritise/track them?
The whole beauty of the bullet journal system is that it’s able to be personalised to any individual’s situation or needs. For example, I work regular shifts Mondays to Fridays so I very rarely need a section of my bullet journal to track those. I don’t (yet) go to the gym with enough regularity to want to record what workouts I do. I’m no longer in school/university so I don’t need a section to note down homework assignments (though, my god, I wish I’d discovered bujos during university I would have been so much more productive). I don’t need to have any sections devoted to things that don’t fit with my current lifestyle.
To this effect, I’ve done away with having weekly logs which delineate my ‘to do’ list by days – there’s no point, I mostly end up migrating tasks anyway, and it actually made me less productive when I did this. Plus I don’t get home until 6pm most days so I don’t spend the majority of my day with my bullet journal actively writing down tasks. I don’t use a bujo at work because it’s unnecessary, personally speaking.
So now I have a two-page spread for each week. On the left-hand page I do a little mini weekly calendar with enough space to write any meetings/twitter chats/social plans, as well as a section to write what blog post I want to publish that day. As my housemate Liz works variable shifts, I often also jot down what shift she’s working on any given day, so that I can make tea for two (or not) depending on when she will be getting home. On the right hand page I simply have a weekly ‘to do’/notes where I list everything and anything I need to keep in mind that week. This is where (if anywhere) I use the symbols Ryder Carroll sets up in his key. But I’m not tied down to assigning a task to a certain day, which helps me a lot.
Despite the fact I’ve ditched monthly trackers, I’m toying with the idea of including a small tracker at the bottom of this right-hand page, to track how much coffee and water I drink. I drink waaaay too much coffee and not enough water so I’ve started to make sure to get a glass of water from the water cooler every time I make a cup of coffee at work (it helps that I have to walk past the cooler on the way out of the kitchen) and it’s been working fairly well. Perhaps this could actually be a useful thing to track, whilst I’m trying to develop this new habit and drink more water?
The whole point of this post is this: the bullet journal system is designed to be minimalist in its setup so that it’s organic; it can grow with you as you realise what features you do and don’t need and it can evolve from there into something that suits your specific needs. I think I’m finally realising that. There’s no harm in setting up a month one way and then realising you don’t use certain sections and so you get rid of them the next month – that’s fine, that’s healthy, and that’s the way I’m going to treat my bujo from now on. Watch this space…
I’m curious, bullet journallers out there – do you use monthly trackers to track habits? Do you use it in a visual ‘break the chain’ kind of way or do you track differently i.e. moods and sleep trackers? Let me know in the comments!