I carry around a Bullet Journal with me wherever I go.
For those that don’t know, Bullet Journaling is a system of analog record-keeping, time management, and task completion. It’s been a wonder for me and, honestly, I’m not sure I would have survived this long as a freelance and an independent contractor without one.
A quick Google search will show a myriad of people’s artistic Bullet Journals, with full pages dedicated to flowers alongside wheels within wheels representing the days of the week. These talented individuals spend hours prepping their pages for the days ahead. From what I can gather, many of them use their Bullet Journal as a much needed form of artistic expression.
And that’s totally fine!
Mine attempts to look nice on the surface, with a well thought out Index and Master Key, but a quick glance at the insane insignias and bars being filled show a madman monitoring how much water he’s drinking and what podcasts he’s listened to that day.
Usually, my day is a disjointed mess of dots and squares all trying to form the same idea of my day.
Monthly events, daily tasks, project deadline planning, books read, podcasts listened to, movies watched, and amount of water drank ingested It’s a trail to follow so I know I’ve made some kind of progress and accomplished something.
A living, breathing RPG quest line trophy.
So, why does it cause me stress sometimes?
Before I carried a #BuJo with me (as all the cool kids on social media call it), I carried Field Notes with me wherever I went. Field Notes are, according to their website:
Field Notes in general, and the National Crop Edition specifically, owe their existence to a tradition of promotional memo books distributed to American farmers over the last hundred years by seed, tractor, and other agricultural companies. Field Notes co-founder Aaron Draplin has been collecting these for years, “rescuing them” from obscurity.
So, yeah, they’re pretty great. Nigh indestructible under normal circumstances.
Typically, I would have taken one of the little buggers around the classroom. Everything from lesson plans to seating charts would get logged inside. Ask any of my students, and they would say, “Mister always carries them around with him.” They, at that point in my life, were my lifesavers.
But now? That’s what I use BuJo for. So, why keep ordering the things in large quantities to use?
I don’t know how to break this cycle of ordering and using notebooks. Call it stupid, or the “typical sickness of a writer buying too many notebooks,” but in my mind, I’ve broken the system. There’s a crack in there that I need to fix. “What do I use which notebooks for”
And because of that, it’s built a writing fear of sorts.
I can’t write if I don’t know what notebook to write in.
Systems are only good if they help. You develop a morning routine to get you started. First, brush your teeth. Then, shower. Then, coffee. Then, grab bag and keys and out the door. If any of these is done out of order, or missing at all, the entire day can be shot. So what do you do?
You tear the whole system down and start over.
Don’t let something like your own mind cripple you from your work. I found that I wasn’t writing stuff because I didn’t know what kind of notebooks to use for what kind of writing. Planning, plotting, novelizing, blogging, freelancing, and so on. And you know what I did?
I’m writing a paragraph, explaining how I would use which notebooks for which kind: Moleskine Bullet Journal is for task completion and project planning. Field Notes for blogging and freelance assignments. (They’re small, so I can carry a dozen around and not feel them in my rucksack.) Oversized notebooks are for long form writing projects. (Novels, webcomics, and novellas.) Anything smaller than my Bullet Journal can be used for idea generation and project management, but only for the project only! No crossing over. Every notebook has a purpose.
Now I know. Now I won’t hesitate again.
Again, I know how crazy that sounds, but anything to keep putting pen to paper.
Thanks for reading.
Check out mine and Arnie Bermudez’s webcomic, The Juan!