I’ve written before about my difficulties with To Do lists and planners and the like. But recently I came across an idea for a planner that looked like something I could actually work with. It’s called a Bullet Journal. It’s completely customizable and doesn’t require that you buy anything, as long as you have a notebook with a bunch of blank pages. Whoopee!
I started experimenting with it before Christmas, just to see how it works for me and I really, really like it. I can keep all my random lists (books I want to read, people we’d like to have round for dinner, blog ideas…) in one spot. Because you put an index in the front of the notebook, you stand a good chance of actually finding your ramblings when you want them again.
And, of course, being the research hound that I am, I’ve spent a fair bit of time on Pinterest, seeing what other people do with their Bullet Journals (or BuJo’s if you want to look really cool).
One idea I saw was a chart of daily habits. You get to decide what those habits should be. What I’ve been working with are the things that I can do in small bits of time each day that make me happy. A few minutes doing yoga. Heading outside and going for a walk. Reading a book. A nap. Just pick a half-dozen or so things that you enjoy doing. List them down the left-hand side of the page. Write the days of the month across the top and make a little chart. Then, every day, you cross off or (to combine cutting edge-trends here) colour in each square of the things you’ve actually done.
And this is when it gets interesting. Notice how you feel that day and the next. Do you feel better when you’ve done a bunch of them? Do you feel much better for having done certain things over others? Are you totally neglecting your own enjoyment in hopes of getting other things done? And how does that make you feel?
I’ve realized that I feel much better if I consistently colour in at least five squares a day. Fewer than that and the next day is crap. There doesn’t seem to be a hierarchy of goodness for me, as long as I make the time for five things I enjoy each day.
This isn’t about self-improvement. The yoga is so that I can move more freely and enjoy the relaxation that comes as I’m practicing. The walking is because getting outside into the fresh air and whatever weather is coming at us boosts my mood. Walking at a pace to elevate my heartrate releases endorphins and that’s also good for my mental health.
The reading is just for fun.
If you want to add weight loss, career advancement or training for a marathon into the mix this year, those would require pages all their own. This chart, which I’ve called “Happies!” in my BuJo is about looking after yourself, getting yourself on to your list of responsibilities, having some damned fun. You get to decide what will lift you up, what you want to make more time for, what you want to experiment with.
And it is just an experiment, one you get to tweak for next month and the one after that. In my trial chart before Christmas, I had a few items that really didn’t make a difference whether I did them or not. And I wanted to add in a couple of activities just to see if I could make time for them. There’s one line of squares that didn’t get coloured in at all this month. It won’t make the cut for February. And a few bits that were, actually, a bit self-improvementy that don’t really belong in the chart. I’ll find some other way to track those things.
Have any of you experimented with something like this? Would you like to give it a go? I always love hearing your ideas!