Self-Care in Checkbox Form
Knitters, I hope you are enjoying the life-changing magic of a fresh start this month. Even when it’s only the arbitrary magic of a date on the calendar—which this year feels less artificial—even if the changeover is only happening in a 6 x 8-inch notebook, I am just so excited to square my shoulders and open a new month in my journal and gaze upon the promise of a blank dot grid. TGIJ!
The future is my time! The checkbox and its BFF, busywork: those are my worry beads. The plan—any plan, planning in general, planning as lifestyle—that is my Bad Romance. In high school I was voted Least Likely to Live #goalfree.
Balance, though. If, like me, you can be more of a palliative planner (thanks for that phrase, Maybe Baby newsletter) than a real doer, or if you find yourself organizing many things but somehow not the important things, you might like the Bullet Journal method for getting on with the actual business of life. It’s a soothing, hands-on way to satisfy that box-ticker part of you while the rest of you runs a nice self-caring bubble bath.
I’ve been bullet journaling for six or seven years, and I’ve always liked its analog approach—the BuJo method uses paper and pen, and little else—but there were aspects that never quite worked. Like indexing my notes. Migrating my notes. Keeping up with the BuJo “collections.”
It had to be Felix
Turns out, I was making it way too hard. (A life theme.) Then I found Felicity “Felix” Ford’s Knitsonik online bullet journal course, and it’s not an exaggeration to say her style has sparked a bonfire of joy for me. Here are some simple life-changing things I’ve learned this month from the course:
- Felix points out that her journal is not a work of art, but a place to engage with her art. Social media give us endless showy examples of how to BuJo at a high level. But these journals are more like heirloom scrapbooks than they are places of work. We don’t get need to get hung up on making the BuJo a precious object.
- But make it fashion: I thought washi tape was only for retail. Nope! You can use washi tape for easy-access tabs to pages sharing a theme, such as recurring meetings or class notes. If my BuJo is my workroom, I need to be able to put my hands on all my WIPs, whether these are actual makes or other long-term projects.
- Use a date stamper, instead of the pre-printed dateline at top of your journal’s page. This means you can use one page for several days, which eliminates waste but more important, offers easy task rollover. Some of you have been using this obvious tip for years, but I needed Felix to point it out. Major block: resolved!
The Knitsonik BuJo course is full of smart tips like these. Its open-minded and playful mood sparked other ideas for me, too, like: What if I aimed to do only what can be done before lunch? What if I were to say when lunch is over, the workday’s over? I’ve tried this for a week or so and it’s not a perfect system. It’s a work in progress—emphasis on progress, as in I’m already doing less than before, and feeling better about it.
It’s almost as if bringing together the executive function of planning and the playfulness of stamps and washi tape has brought the two sides of my brain together. Ideas just seem to flow better when the whole brain comes to the party.
Have you been using the BuJo method? I want to continue the experiment, so I would love to know what you’ve discovered. Please put your journaling tips below so we can all try them out. My plan is to circle back for a best-practices review here mid-year, so I really want to hear your thoughts.
And may your 2021 be much, much more manageable.
- The Knitsonik Bullet Journaling: Self-Paced Edition. The course is designed as a four-week experience, but I binged it over the New Year weekend.
- Ryder Carroll’s basic bullet journaling instructions
- Washi tape from Felix’s gorgeous stranded color work designs
- MDK Leuchtterm bullet journals
- A leaner alternative to the Leuchtterm journal are the notebook collections put out by Chronicle Books. Be advised: they’re pretty, but they don’t include page numbers.