About three days (not really, but that's what it felt like) after I ordered the Smiley Diary, I saw a YouTube Video for the Bullet Journal (via the Art of Simple), and I was totally intrigued, but since my Smiley Diary was already enroute I decided that I wouldn't pursue it any further. I was committed to the Smiley Diary.
Overall, the Smiley Diary has been very good. I love the slightly-whimsical but still clean design, and it has given me both calendar space and daily pages to write down what I accomplished (incredibly interesting stuff such as back exercises and miles run). The main drawbacks for me are the tiny list-making spaces, and the lack of scratch paper. So in addition to my teeny written list of main points, I've been using my Tasky app for ongoing and multi-step tasks.
Well, here we are a few months into 2015, and I couldn't get the Bullet Journal out of my head. It was just so mesmerizing, and I kept wondering if it would work better than my Smiley Diary. The best thing about it is that it's customizable, so I could see myself very easily setting it up similar to the Smiley, with added list space and pages dedicated to doodles, Brain Dumps, and other things I like to keep track of but don't necessarily have a set space for.
In a moment of weakness I went on Pinterest and searched "Bullet Journal," and of course it turns out there are a zillionty folks out there who have already taken the plan and run with it. Creative-types have added plenty of great ideas, little doodles and stickers, and Washi tape for texture and emphasis. Many of the ideas didn't interest me, but a few were just right to try.
Money held me back, or rather the fact that I didn't want to spend any money on something that may or may not work out, and a good Bullet Journal tends to use one of those fancy little Moleskine notebooks (or the Leuchtturm 1917, as I am learning about) made of graph paper. The graph paper alone makes my nerd-heart beat faster, but it also comes in, like, 20 colors. Colors and graph paper turn me into a puddle of goo on the floor.
Well, I didn't have a fancy little graph paper notebook, but it turns out I had a Moleskine lined journal that I'd gotten as a gift. I had started it a few months back, and then set it aside when the Smiley arrived, so I figured Hey, what better choice for a trial run than a notebook very similar to the very one suggested for such a task. Plus I figured I could keep two journals for a couple weeks and see if I gravitated toward one over the other.
|It's not graph paper, but there are colors involved.|
Within a week I'd stopped using my Tasky app, and by the end of Week Two I had set aside the Smiley Diary. I feel mildly guilty about this, but I keep reminding myself of two things. First, that these are notebooks, not people. My cute little red Smiley is not actually lonely in my nightstand drawer, particularly because certain small children still swipe it to doodle in. And Second, I can always go back to it if the excitement of the Bullet Journal wears off, and either way it gets recycled when 2015 is done.
The only remaining drawbacks are that a) it doesn't fit in my favorite purse, and b) my Bullet Journal interior is not as cute and eye-catching as those I have seen online. The Smiley doesn't really fit into my favorite purse either, so that issue is a bit of a wash. As for the latter, I'm not as artsy as some to begin with, and my system needs to remain very low-maintenance (to me). It's fine if I add little doodles and a few colors along the way, but if I make things too intricate, I'll never stick with it. So I've been looking for little ideas that would be easy to pull off. Mine will not have the quasi-scrap-book look that some do (not that there's anything wrong with that).
|May Calendar with experimental not-quite-Washi tape on the corners. It'll have page numbers by Thursday (long story).|
I love the Bullet Journal because it is relatively cheap. Fancy planning systems can be pretty spendy; even my cute little Smiley was around $30. Assuming I stick with it, once this notebook is full a new one will be $20 or under. And if you want to go super-cheap, you could grab the simplest spiral notebook at the back-to-school sale. The do-it-yourself approach is a bit of a tough call. Obvs it's nice if you find a system that has everything you need already printed out because, duh, there it is. But for customizability, you can't beat a pen and ruler or home-printed paper sized to fit in the notebook. Plus, if you're a creative, visual-type, you can putter with pens, highlighters, and paper-crafting products to your heart's content, making your journal awesome and fabulous.
At the end of everything, sometimes I feel a little silly talking about my planning system, like some sort of organizational guru who has lots of official appointments and meetings to keep, but again that's what is so great about the Bullet Journal. It tracks what you want it to track, which for me these days is home-running tasks and the Moving List of DOOM, and my strengthening regimen to keep my butt (and everything else) in line.
In conclusion, if you are into organization, or planning, or even just graph paper and colorful notebooks, go check out the Bullet Journal intro and see what you think. Then go make as many lists as you want--they'll be there waiting for you (as long as you enter them into the index)...