As a spontaneous person, I find it hard to stick to plans. I know how to make plans, but I can’t seem to follow it to a tee. Planning has always been a guide — one often ignored — as I go through my days. Planners are wasted on me. I’ve had a lot of those through the years and they go untouched or barely used.
Back in 2016, a few months after I learned how to do modern brush calligraphy, I stumbled upon bullet journaling. The concept was so simple and promising that I thought I’d give it a try. I researched it on Instagram and Pinterest which was overwhelming. I was sucked into the black hole of all things pretty. While I saw a lot of great ideas and design, it also put a lot of pressure on wanting mine to look just as pretty as everyone else’s.
I didn’t want to jump right in on buying supplies but decided to use an old notebook I had kept for years. It was lined and the paper wasn’t that good. I would often go to bookstores or the stationery section at the department store just to look at notebooks and pens. Sometimes I would buy pens even when I shouldn’t. Hahahaha
One time at a Daiso store, I saw a small-ish dotted notebook. The paper wasn’t ideal but it only costs Php66 (more or less $1.20). I bought it because I couldn’t stand the lined notebook for a bullet journal. Day after day, week after week, I would try to plan how my days would go. I kept trackers that often get forgotten, set goals I couldn’t achieve, and try to make my bullet journal as pretty as I could. My calligraphy helped make it pretty. Other than that, it’s very plain.
I tried different layouts, experimented with what worked and didn’t, but honestly, nothing worked for me. I didn’t have enough activities in my life to plan for. But knowing how it works got me excited to teach my friends how to do it. Maybe they’ll be more successful at it than I was. I did, however, tried again the next year. I bought a plain notebook which I planned to use for the next couple of years. The cover was customized, with verses and quotes that I liked. I’ve set it up for the next few months with trackers and other basic bullet journal items. But once again, I failed to open it or use it as the days went by.
Over the years of failed attempts at planning, I finally gave up because it didn’t work for me. I would often forget that I had a planner and honestly, it just takes too much time to work on. I know for some people it is quite therapeutic, but for me, it’s like a waste of time. I’d rather do something else I’m good at or learn a new skill.
Last year I gave digital journaling a try. Carrying a notebook in my bag just added weight and I rarely ever opened my bullet journal when I’m out anyway. However, a phone is something I always I have with me. Once again I researched about digital journals until I stumbled upon Simplify Days. It was a great find because aside from the journaling part, Barbara also has tips on how to live a paperless lifestyle. Perfect. As I’m trying to declutter my life, going digital sounds like the best way to go. More on that in a separate post.
With tips and Evernote templates from Simplify Days, I created my digital journal using Evernote. Eventually, I switched it out with OneNote as it seemed more flexible for me. I made my own templates, considering things that would work for me, making them as pretty as I could, but once again, it didn’t work for me. It was the same thing with the physical journal. I would plan my week and then forget about opening the app during the week. I needed something I could see right away, something I didn’t have to open every time I needed to be reminded of what I was supposed to do. I’ve tried so many journal and planning apps but nothing worked for me.
Ideally, I love the concept of bullet journaling. I still think about how I would want mine to look like. I’ve also been thinking of creating a mock journal — one I would design but don’t necessarily use. It’s the need to create something pretty.
Anyway, I do have a system that works for me somehow. It’s just my basic Google calendar with a bit of a twist. I’ll write about it some other time but it’s a fairly new system and I’ve thought about it a lot and it’s what works for me best at the moment.
If you’re a planner, how do you do it? Do you use a bullet journal, make it pretty, or not? I’d love to know your story and how it works for you. If you’ve written about it like I did, drop your link in the comments so I can check it out.