Let's just start by writing about why I'm doing this blogpost.
I was writing a decription for an Instagram post the other day where I've realised, it turned into a little declaration of love to my Bullet Journal and I really feel like I want to talk about some things that changed for me for the better and I know it's all because of my Bullet Journal. So here we are, this is my official “Ode To My Bullet Journal”
The Big Three (or the best good things that changed for me)
Being more organised:
You think that with starting a Bullet Journal, I expected to be more organised at some point. But to be totally honest, when I started in late summer of 2016, I never expected to still be Bullet Journaling in 2019. I thought, this might be a nice, creative hobby for the next few months, expecting to be over the time effort it takes at some point. Also the fact that I’m a true, chaotic person, didn’t help much. My mind and life were always chaotic and I accepted that this was just me. Of course I had tons of notebooks and notepads to do ALL the list but it just was all over the place, there was a notebook where I wrote, one where I hoped to be sketching at some point and so many, pretty notepads and post-its, I couldn’t count them anymore. The idea of having everything at one place, immediately got to me and is the sole reason, I started Bullet Journaling.
Investing time to create the planning tools I need to be more productive helped me to be consistent with planning and organising my life for the first time. With daily planners I’ve bought, I usually only scraped at the surface of planning my life because I usually had only enough space to put in an appointment or one important To Do. This wasn’t really enough to keep my busy and chaotic mind at bay and I usually stopped using a daily planner after three to four months.
I always loved the creative part of Bullet Journaling but it took me a while to fully get into the planning part. The first few months it was mostly about trying out different layouts and styles I saw on social media, which was perfect for me because I could try out so many different styles and layouts and learn what works for me and what not. As soon as I found a layout that truly suited me I started to automatically got into planning every aspect of my life because why invest all the time to layout but then not use it, right? It took me a good six to eight months until I found a layout that really suited my needs and for me, it was when I fully stripped down on decoration in my planning spreads. I really wonder why it took my so long to learn what “having everything at one place” meant for me. I don’t have to be creative on every single spread I create. With my planning spread I have the intention to be consistent in setting up and have an easy overview and enough space, so I keep everything minimalistic and simple. With other spreads I have the intention to be as creative as possible. My Bullet Journal gives me the freedom to do whatever I like, all at one place. Took me a while to understand what this truly means.
Using my Bullet Journal with the intention to make my life better for myself, whatever this means for me, by organising my mind and my life was the biggest game changer in my journey. The amazing Bullet Journal community, you’ll find in all parts of the internet, truly helped my to see that there is so much more to planning than just having a To Do list and a place where I can write down my appointments. By creating spreads according to my intention of how to plan and organise my life, I changed my mindset and established healthy routines for myself.
It’s so hard to explain how Bullet Journaling helped me live my life with intention because it has so much to do with changing my mindset. There isn’t a physical thing to show around. It’s about how I feel inside of me which, when all is said and done, is all that really counts.
Changing my intention to being good to myself, even in times where I don't feel like I deserve it, helped me to accept that my A-Game might look different every day, according to my mental health.
Feeling guilty about everything is a huge issue for me and something I always needed to work on. Starting to use my Bullet Journal intentionally helped my so much in adapting this to my real life where I now choose with so much more intention how to spend and invest my time. To intentionally investing my time into self-care, and not feeling guilty about not constantly being productive.
Talking about my mental health is still a daring thing to do for me. I only do because there were so many people who dared to share their story before me and helped me through so much with it. I still feel the urge to immediately delete everything I share about this topic.
When I started using my Bullet Journal to care for my mental health, it was more about being gentle to myself and finding ways to establish healthy routines. Things like taking a time out for a bath didn’t make me feel guilty for not “doing stuff” because I had the intention to take this break. Starting with easy and simple things, things I was excited about doing, helped me to built up from there. Establish this routine took me a while (still not perfect) and sticking to being good to myself in times where I felt like I didn’t deserve it, was quite a challenge.
I really needed to realise that my A-Game might look different every day and that I can change everything in my Bullet Journal according to that. I learned that on some days my Dailies are filled with managing to write all the E-Mails, doing all the assignments and having the laundry done in time and on other days my only to do in my dailies is getting out of bed. I learned that being gentle to myself means that having a bath, washing my hair, brushing my teeth are things I managed to do and are worth of having the satisfaction of crossing it off my to do list. Being gentle also means for me now that I don’t feel guilty about if there are days where I don’t manage to take a bath, washing my hair and brushing my teeth and I have to migrate some or all of it to another day.
With accepting that not every day is the same, it also helped me to start daring to want to be better and I started to try to gently work through depressive and anxious phases. To not “just” toss my Bullet Journal into a corner if I had a depressive phase but to be consistent with “planning” by reassessing every day what I’m able to manage. If I felt like, all I could do was getting out of bed to the sofa, I intentionally chose that doing this was enough and I don’t have to feel guilty about not doing more. With time, where I got more conistent with my routine, even in hard times, I started to work through these phases by also set myself a time frame of a few days, let’s say three for example, where not having to get up was fine and I then started to gently push myself to maybe put on one load of easy laundry (easy laundry for me is laundry that I can put into the dryer and don’t have to worry about hanging everything up). I accepted if doing some easy laundry wasn’t yet the thing I could manage, so I migrated it to the next day, maybe it would be better then. I teached myself (again, took a while) to never felt guilty about migrating “easy” things for days but had this feeling of success when I could finally cross it off. Doing this helped me to shorten hard and heavy phases and feel like I still had some control in times where I mostly feel lost.
All of this is a work in progress and my routines in planning and self-care will constantly adapt. Thanks to the freedom of Bullet Journaling, nothing I do is set in stone and I truly accepted, that I have to find my own way of working through my mental health issues, my chaotic character or how to be productive. Even though I knew that just because something worked or someone else, doesn’t mean it’ll work for me and truth be told, I’ve only truly accepted this when I found the thing that works for me. My Bullet Journal.
If you'd like to see most of my Bullet Journal evolution, head over to my Instagram account where I've share most of my journey.