Wednesday, January 31, 2018

My Bullet Journal presentation from the 2017 Moonlight & Magnolias -- part 4

Welcome back to my Bullet Journal Presentation! Today we're going to get into the Basics of the BuJo.

The only real requirements to start a Bullet Journal are: a notebook and a pen.

A six-inch ruler is nice to have but not necessary.

Notebooks:  I used a Composition book for my first journal.
  • Pros: they're cheap, which is good if you're not sure you'll continue with the system and don't want to spend a lot of money on something you'll give up on after a week. (However, the system is so customizable, I can't imagine anyone giving up after a week. If it's not working, just change it!)
  • Cons: really too big to carry around easily, and ink can bleed through the paper. 
  • Use if: you carry a backpack instead of a small purse, and if you're going to write with a ballpoint pen instead of a felt-tip or any kind of fancy ink pen.
The ideal/recommended notebook for Bullet Journaling is the actual Bullet Journal notebook. A lot of people also use a Leuchtturm 1917 notebook. Both of these notebooks are about 5"x8", use a dot grid instead of lines (ruled), and have nice thick paper that ink won't bleed through.

They're also both pretty expensive, which is why I didn't start out with one of them. Since I haven't used them, I can only guess at the Pros and Cons, but I'll take a shot.
  • possible Pros: small enough to carry in a purse, dot-grid which is said to be more flexible for writing, drawing, charts, graphs, etc. than ruled (lined) paper, thick paper that ink won't bleed through, pocket in the back.
  • possible Cons: bloody expensive for a damn notebook, no matter how fabulous it is. 
  • possibly good to use if: you carry a purse instead of a backpack, will use a variety of pens.
Yoobi (sold at Target) makes a 5"x8" notebook for about $6, but I think it's ruled, not dot-grid. That would have been my next step if I hadn't found some nice little dot-grid notebooks on sale for $11. I haven't used them yet, because I have another Dreamspinner Authors Workshop journal and a moleskine journal to use up first. The rules of First In, First Out are rigid and unyielding. :)

For pens, I got a set of colored pens with really sharp points that make my writing thin and sometimes hard to read in the scans. I use those mostly to color in my Habit Tracker (more on that in a later post). The pen I'm using now is a Pentel R.S.V.P. ballpoint pen, black, medium point (1.0 mm). It makes nice thick lines that my elderly eyes can see better. I got a five-pack at Target or possibly a grocery store.

Feel free to use the comments section to suggest notebooks and/or pens that you like.

But let's get back to the Basics of the BuJo. They are your Index, Future Log, Monthly Log, Daily Log, and Collections. The Monthly Log pages will include a list of Must Do-s. The Daily Log will have tasks, notes, events, and narrative. Of course you can have all kinds of other stuff -- remember, highly customizable -- but those are the basics. You don't ever need to do more than those, and you can always do less because, say it with me: highly customizable. :D

The first thing to write, maybe on the inside cover, is  your email or phone number so the notebook can be returned to you if you lose it. Hopefully that will never happen, but that's why some people (myself included) back up their journals by scanning them.

The next thing to do is set up your Index, which is where you will record the page number of everything you write in the BuJo. So simple, and yet so helpful to be able to find everything quickly.

you don't have to index your index like I did here
Generally, two pages are enough for the index.

Go ahead and number the first ten pages or so, including the index pages. Just start from 1, in the bottom corner of the page, and go up to ten, number both sides of the page (so the first five pages will get you to 10). Try to make the page numbers as legible as possible to help with indexing and finding information later.

example of page numbers

The next thing is to set up your Future Log. The official BuJo site has you set up six months' worth of space, but I've found setting up entire year is more useful for me.

To set up a Future Log, you divide each of the next few pages into thirds, and write the upcoming month names on each section. Start with the following month, not the current month, since the current month will go on your Monthly Log page. So for six months, you'd use two pages. For a year, you'd use four pages. You can also make each Future Log month more than one third of a page -- February is the shortest month and yet somehow my Future Log February is completely jammed.

See Feb. in bottom right corner of pic, completely jammed

Into these Future Log months you will put upcoming things you know about now, and you'll add new ones as they come up. For example: deadlines, trips, birthdays, theater tickets, weddings. Go ahead and put in everything you can think of right now. AND make sure you list "Future Log" in your index, along with the pages your future log is on. They will probably be something like pp. 3-4 or 3-6.

Helpful tip learned from painful experience: keep your Future Log in the front of your journal. Or in the very back if you like, but somewhere that you can quickly flip to it. I tried to have a "rolling" Future Log once, dropping off the finished month and adding a new one six months in advance. What a mistake. Even though I knew what page it was on, I still had to flip pages to find is vs. leaving it at the front of the journal.

Since this post will go up on January 31, let's go ahead and start our Monthly Log with February. On the next blank left-hand page, write February at the top, then list the days down the page. Since my current journal is ruled, and there aren't 30/31 lines on one page let alone 28, I let my Monthly Log run onto the facing page. Go ahead and also put a letter for the day of the week on the left side of the number of the day. For example, Feb. 1 is a Thursday, so to the left of 1, you'll write Th, to the left of 2, you'll write F, and so on.

Here's my Monthly Log for January.

monthly log for January -- see Must Do-s crammed onto right page

Like your Future Log, go ahead and fill in all the things you know about now. As each new month rolls around, you'll flip to your Future Log, find the corresponding month, then copy all that month's events from the Future Log into the current Monthly Log. For example, in my Future Log on the right side, you can kind of see that I have Jan. 18: pay Visa bill. Then, on the January Monthly Log, I have Pay Visa bill on Jan. 17 (I decided to move it up a day since I tend to ignore my reminders for a day or two).

On the facing page, write down all your Must Do-s for the month, then see where you can fit them into the month, which you have spread before you, ready to be filled up. I didn't do that for January, which is why it's January 31 and a lot of my Must Do-s are not done. That is user error, not a BuJo failure. :P

I find my Must Do-s list is most effective if I write only the truly Must Do-s, and not my Should Do-s or Want To Do-s. It keeps the list from getting diluted and makes me focus more on getting done the things I really need to get done. I can always make separate lists of SDs and WTDs and add them to the calendar once the MDs are on there.

So you've got your Future Log and your Monthly Log. I'll do one more Log, and then save the rest of the basics for the next post, since this one is getting reeeeeaaaalllly long.

The last log is your Daily Log, and this is where you get stuff done. That is, it's where you list your To-do items, called Tasks. It's also where you keep track of events that occur on that day, or ideas you get, or Deep Thoughts you may have about anything that crosses your  mind.

Tasks are listed with a dot to the left of them. Events have a small circle to their left, and Notes have a dash. When a Task is completed, you put an X over the dot. If it's a really important task, you can mark it with a star. I mark mine with five dots (one in the middle and four in the corners) so I can still cross it off with an X when I'm done.

If you don't get the task done the day you scheduled it for (copied from your Monthly Log, the same way you copied Monthly tasks from your Future Log, or something that came up recently), you put a right-arrow over the dot and move it to the next day. This is called Migration, and I'll talk more about it in a future post.

Next post will be on February 3, and I'll finish the Basics of the Bujo, including Rapid Logging, Migration, Narratives, Collections, Signifiers, and my own BuJo hacks for writing. Now I have to wrap up -- the foster cat really wants to walk on the keyboard, so I need to go cuddle her.

Let me know how the BuJo process goes for you!

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