Journal Your Way to Joy

By Kay Gardiner
December 1, 2022

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  • I just started using my BuJo I bought from MDK last year, and I love it. It’s not pretty, but oh it is so useful. I’ve always made to-do lists – I’d keep up with them for a couple weeks, then forget it for a couple weeks and somehow getting back to the list later than I thought would cause me both guilt and dread. I’m not feeling any of that with BuJo – if I don’t look at it for a few days, hope is not lost. Sometimes I realize forgotten items need to be crossed off forever. Sometimes I push tasks forward. I don’t know why it feels so different from my to do lists of the past, but it does.

    • I know, right? I’ve wondered about this too, and I think it’s partly the mind-shift from the more ephemeral notion of a “list” to “journal.” Journal is more permanent, and it becomes a repository, a place you go to when you need to do a little life-organizing. It’s so satisfying to cross something off when you decide that you’re not going to do that thing after all! Some items have to keep moving forward a long time before I do them, but normalizing the practice is calming to me. If I really have to do it, I will do it…eventually. And in the meantime I won’t just let it go, it’s right there in my bujo.

      • I think for my next one, I’ll try to pretty it up a bit – washi tape is a great idea. And maybe fun stickers? Attempts to draw sweaters I’d like to knit? (As a pretty bad illustrator, that would add some humor.) I do love how working my life tasks this way calm me, rather than stressful to-do lists of my past.

  • Oooooh, my daughter is a newish knitter who has kept notebooks to help organize her life for years. The whole package, journal, tape, markers is a perfect gift for her! Thank you for providing the perfect inspiration to make shopping both painless and brilliant!!!

  • I’d love to see examples of the less-than-perfect bujo. I think keeping one looks fun, but the perfectionist in me won’t let me do it if it won’t be beautiful.

    • Felix Ford (Knitsonik) has an online course that emphasizes that it’s ok to be less than perfect. So good.

      • Thanks! Less-than-perfect-are-us!

    • For me the breakthrough was to just start doing it, pushing through my perfectionism, which made me start to see the bujo as a tool, not an object or craft project. I took Felix Ford’s online course early in the pandemic, and it was so liberating on this score, and has lots of examples of her own real journal. With a little experience of doing it, you start to get ideas about new ways you could use it, for example, I keep my daily temperature charts for my temperature blanket in my bujo. They’re useful while I’m knitting the blanket, and they’re also making a tangible memory of that project, and my year.

  • A testimonial. I also am a messy devotee. I was bedeviled with postits with plans and to do lists that were all tangled up in a One Note notebook, until my first BuJo reorganized. That little blue book has forced me to keep all those loose ends IN ONE PLACE, and the process of hand-writing the daily and monthly tasks is somehow both simpler and more focused. Having one set of to-dos and goals and keeping track of how to locate petty details is a great stress reliever, because it unloads responsibility for remembering all that stuff. And every once in a while it’s fun to draw something silly, too.

    • reorganized me. (It doesn’t fix my typing or grammar.)

  • I use my journal from front to back for my calendar (one spread of pages for the month, and 5 spreads, one for each week of the month – then back to front with pages of ideas and drawings and long term or future to do lists. I also (washi) tape in mementos. And leaves.
    And feathers. Thanks for this organizational inspiration MDK!

    • The back to front/front to back idea is inspired. Thanks!

  • Is this the year I will do it? Since I no longer need the day job notebook, maybe. Hmmm. What color….

  • Does the journal come with instructions, so if I gift it to a non-knitter she will know how to make the most of it? She’s not a follower of MDK (or any other knitting sites) so wouldn’t benefit from all the advice Kay and others have offered.

    • Hi Anne,

      I’m so glad you asked, so I could share the Bujo inventor’s beautiful little how-to video. This video was all I needed to get started.

      • Thanks Kay!

  • I ADORE bujo. I make mine pretty with colored markers, stencils and washi tape as my drawing skills are on the sad side. I have a Knit All the Things section where I track my projects with a snip of the yarn I used adhered with washi tape. I catalog yarn I have for projects and what the project bag it is stored in looks like. I journal in it, take notes from classes. I also use more than one each year bc there is so much you can do with them! Zone cleaning, to do lists, organizing holidays, menus, etc. It was life-changing to find this. Thanks, Kay!

    • It’s so great for menus for holiday dinners! Useful to help you figure out headcount, menu, grocery list, errands (pick up flowers, replace busted gravy boat) etc., and then afterward you have a record of a gathering. I know for sure that I wouldn’t take the time to journal the details of a dinner after the fact, and it’s almost better to have the nuts and bolts of planning it as my memento.

  • I secretly think the reason we get excited about bujo-ing is that it gives us a new word and allows us to reframe drudgery. “Keeping a diary” or “making to-do lists” or “list of errands” all of which sound like WORK. Bujo sounds like a craft.

    • It’s also a low-key cult! I always like to meet a fellow traveler on the bujo road. Reframing drudgery is the way forward.

  • Boohoohoo no shipping to Europe… I so wanted to gift myself some Washi tape.
    Not that I *need* more Washi Tape, but that my Study BuJo would definitely be more reflective of the whole me when adorned with some bitterly tape. All those handmade gifts (whether marmalade, brownies, mittens, shawls or beanies) would have looked so good with “I made this for you” stuck all over the wrapping, just to make sure that the recipient knew to properly cherish it .
    So, those living Stateside, in Canada or in my homeland, please buy it instead of me & make me jealous with glorious instagram pics of BuJo layouts & pretty presents!

    • Knitterly, … not bitterly… (fat thumbs & autocorrect)

      • Jo, send an email to [email protected] letting us know exactly what you’d like to order and your country and postal code and we can take a look at it. Everything is frightfully expensive to ship right now, so look around the shop and make the most of the air in the shipping box, but we can put a quote together for you.

        • Thank you! Unfortunately I can only stretch to washi tape, so shipping will be stupid. However I have a big birthday coming up, so will contact you then. Thank you very very much!