One of the reasons I started art / bullet journaling was to get organized and to get focused, which I explained more about at the start of the new year. Do not take me as someone who is constantly distracted by little whims and fancies, though!
Au contraire, I am quite the organizational nerd. Those who know me might think me obsessed, but my dear, I do have three Asana accounts. That’s right, three. One for work, one for my personal self, and one for dear ol’ Wondershins. As if I couldn’t have more calendars and To-Do Lists in my life!
But I must say that I adore Asana and it has been such an amazing organizational tool, which is why I created two additional accounts for myself after discovering it at work. While I won’t brag that I know all the corners and curves of Asana, I do pride myself in using it quite efficiently.
So why in the world do I need a bullet journal if I am quite comfortably settled into Asana? Well, one of the problems with having three different accounts is that all my tasks are spread out on three calendars. While that makes it easier to separate tasks from each area of my life, that also meant that each day was filled with its own tasks that most likely took more time combined than my day allotted.
Having a bullet journal, I believed, would allow me to extract the most important to-do’s from each area of my life and focus only on those tasks for the day. Narrow down everything I wanted to do to the essentials and nudge aside the Want-To-Do-But-Now-Is-Not-the-Time’s.
Off I went to create spreads that would help me focus on the important things. But I quickly learned that not all spreads would be as efficient to me as I thought, which leads to my one big recollection for the week:
LET GO OF THINGS THAT DON’T WORK
My dear Instagram friend, Kwasia, gave me this helpful tip when I first started bullet journaling – “My most important tip would be to not stick to the rules that don’t work for you.”
Bullet journaling, though pretty much a “do what you want” method, does have some rules to get you started and some suggested ways of journaling to help you organize your life more efficiently.
There is also the other kind of bullet journaling that you see on Instagram and Pinterest, the kind that raises jealousies and starts wars. (I kid on the latter!) Those are the ones with the fanciful layouts (that I have attempted) and exquisite hand lettering that flourishes across the pages.
It is tempting to want to do things exactly how you see them, and while it doesn’t hurt to try out these “rules”, Kwasia’s got it right. If something doesn’t work for you, there is no need to keep doing it.
In only two weeks, I had already learned which layouts were working for me and which were not going to make the cut for the next week or month. There are so many extraordinary layouts I see on Pinterest that I want to do, but I know that they won’t get me anywhere.
So Long, Layouts!
The first spread I created was a monthly calendar, pictured above. I did not intend to put down every little task in this calendar, since that’s what I had my Asanas for – birthdays, daily tasks, payment reminders. So I decided to write down tasks that I wanted to do that will complete my monthly goals. For example, a couple of my goals for January is to complete the PIIT28 program and to blog more. I wrote down my exercise start day and filled in blog content ideas that I had for the month.
The result? I never bother looking at that spread. My blog posts run amok, with no detailed tasks to cement them in place (read: this is the third blog post I have completed of the thirteen I had written down).
In the empty space on the right side of the page, I had jotted down a list of all the tasks I had to do in January (but that didn’t have a specific day to be accomplished), but I never even chance a glance at that list as well.
Then there was this spread here, with a weekly calendar view by hour as well as weekly goals:
I absolutely adore these kind of calendars, and I use them once in awhile in a Google spreadsheet. The problem is that things never work out as I have mapped out; they are used more as an ideal schedule and what I wish to get done. More often than not, something runs longer than I planned or I get too tired, and the whole hourly schedule backfires.
As for the weekly goals, this fared slightly better than the other two layouts. I did this for two weeks, and it really made me buckle down on what I needed to focus on for the week. But in the end, when I would write down my daily To-Do’s, I never even glanced at them.
And then there was this unplanned, but very simple layout – a rep tracker for when I did my PIIT28 workouts:
The good thing is that I only made these two grids the night before I started my first workout. I am so glad I only did two, because after the first workout of counting reps, I realized that I prefer to not focus on counting reps but on the exercises themselves.
TURNING IT INTO SOMETHING USEFUL
For some of you bullet journalers out there, these layouts might be an efficiency workhorse for you, and I think that is fantastic! Productivity and organization works differently for everyone, so it is so important to not stick to the rules and do what works best for you. If I persist in creating these layouts week after week, I am only wasting my time and going a whole other direction from where I intended.
Believe me, it was a little sad to abandon the layouts that I so enjoyed creating. Admittedly, they are quite nice to look at and seem like I am being extremely organized, but I had to learn to let go of things that would not keep me going forward.
Instead of disregarding all of these layouts I worked so diligently on, I turned my attentions on another goal I have – to cover every single white space in this journal.
Now in my January monthly calendar spread, I have since taken to inking a quick doodle in each of the boxes. The doodle is a tiny reminder of something memorable that happened that day. For example, a lovely brew from a coffee shop or even feeling like a zombie because the neighbor’s dog kept barking in the wee hours of the morning!
As for my PIIT28 rep tracker, I decided to transform it into something more visually pleasing that I could feel good about by turning it into a full spread with a spontaneous illustration of myself for “before and after” measurements.
While these doodlings don’t actually help me become more productive or work more efficiently, they allow me to let loose and attempt to get into the habit of art journaling. They also add a personal and visual element amidst the grids and graphs.
Even though I feel as if I have stripped away the bones of my bullet journal by not creating these calendars anymore, I am getting the sense that they can be rebuilt with more pictures and patterns, scribbles and song lyrics.