In my last post I mentioned buying two bullet journals to organize "my life" this year.
I bought them because I thought they would be the perfect marriage of practicality and creativity.
All those little dots just promising me I could make a custom DIY planner bursting with artwork and personality.
I am an artist. I am an organizer. I could whip out bullet journal spreads that would make Instagram fall to it's knees and weep with joy.
Blank Notebook Freeze....
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What is Blank Notebook Freeze? (And is it contagious?)
It works like this.
You love stationery. You buy a notebook, a journal, or a sketchpad that speaks to you.
You just can't wait to start filling it up.
But the moment you open it...you are stricken with fear.
I blame it on the binding. I can shamelessly mess up 4 or 5 reams of loose paper every year. I have no qualms about spoiling a generic spiral notebook or packages of college rule filler paper.
But a pretty journal or notebook or writing pad or sketch book? Instant BNF.
I know I'm just one trembling pen stroke away from totally ruining everything.
It isn't contagious, but there are some common symptoms:
- You keep stashes of empty notebooks, waiting for the day you are sure you can fill them without a mistake.
- You have several notebooks/journals/sketchpads with only one or two (actually wonderful) pages filled in. (Because those first pages turned out great, you don't want to ruin the rest of the book by mistake.)
The only thing worse than ruining a book from the beginning, is almost making it to the end before you really make a mess.
So when someone asks to see your journal or sketch book you have to say "Oh, sure. Just stop before page 31." (and you know they won't).
They will see that awful thing...that moment when you suddenly couldn't draw any better than a blind monkey, or your prose sounds like it came from the auto-suggest function on your phone.)
Yep, regular old journals and books just leave way to much to chance.
But bullet journals.
They aren't really a blank notebook, so you can't really get Blank Notebook Freeze. It has little dots to guide you, for crying out loud, and everyone else can do it...right?
Because a bullet journal was absolutely mistake-proof, the very first thing I did was f*** up the first few pages trying to create a beautiful January spread.
The dots DO help. They make it easy to add nice sharp boxes for things like a calendar page. You can draw boxes all day.
Sadly, the "little boxes" were about as creative as I got. Stepping away from little boxes led to unspeakable ugliness. (Coz I forgot how to draw as soon as I opened my new journal. :/ )
So, looking back at my January spread, *wince*, it does look like it was scribbled by a blind monkey. And it also proves that you can come down with a case of DJF, or Dot Journal Freeze.
When I had the bright idea to start organizing with a bullet journal, I bought two. One for business, and one for general life stuff.
I never planned on making the business book "pretty". It was just supposed to be a better solution than blog binder or plain notebook. And it does a dandy job of that.
Little boxes are exactly what I needed in my business journal, so that I can track things such as blog posts, and passwords, and income. I don't have to find or make printables that are perfect for my needs, I can just whip up my own short, snippy to-do lists or strange trackers and no one has to know they aren't embellished with floral wreaths.
But I can totally doodle a floral wreath, if I want to, without fear. Because this journal has passwords and stuff so it's not like I'm going to be flashing it around on Instagram, you know?
Of course, I won't be flashing the other one anywhere either if it doesn't start behaving. But I might WANT to, so therefore, I have not yet reached the same level of "don't-give-a-damn" with my Life Stuff journal.
*makes not to stop giving-a-damn on life journal goal list page*
Ahem. That said, my February spread is not yet filled out. Except the important stuff, like my savings tracker and reading list.
Somehow, I manage to look at a million gorgeous pictures of bullet journals, but didn't really absorb any important stuff. Like how to fit a whole year into a single book. Here are some things I wish I had known before I bought the Bujo:
1. There is Math Involved
I don't think I read a warning about any m-a-t-h being involved. If you want nice, even boxes though, you will need to get ready to count and divide little dots.
Funny, those time-lapse videos really make it look fast and easy to create a spread. In reality, a tidy page requires a bit of time and work. (Especially if you are sweating out your DJF.)
I don't mind, but I do wish I had bought these a month or so before the first of the year and prepped them ahead.
3. Over-Enthusiastic Tracking
I started with ALL the things. I bought these beautiful, big journals so I would have plenty of space. Then I had to fill the space, so I put a tracker for everything I saw people tracking. Plus the to-do's and goals and lists, etc.
Sometime around the middle of January I realized that I really have no interest in tracking my mood, my water intake, or how many times I brush my teeth every day. The trackers were starting to look less cute, and more like boxy little dictators judging my fluid choices.
I know these really help some people, so it sure doesn't hurt to experiment. I just had to realign what I really wanted to plan, track and organize for me personally.
Namely, I want to have all of my lists and notes in one place along with highlights from my day/week. I don't need to break down every second of my life and sort it into little boxes.
More like a journal arranged in boxes, than boxes arranging my life, ya know?
This also means I have all this extra space where I'm not practicing any sort of self-discipline. These spaces are reserved now for that amazing art I will do one day.
When I'm blessed by the Stationery Fairy.
Tips for Coping With BNF/DJF?
- Start with pencil if you need to.
- Stare at Pinterest and Instagram examples a lot.
- Use a clear ruler to help see the dots.
- Follow the instructions from experts. (instead of JUST looking at their pictures.
- Customize your trackers.
- Remember no one has to see your journal.
- Just go for it.
So, do you use a bullet journal? Do you stick with the more common methods, (all those symbols and trackers?) or do you customize creatively?
Actually, what I really want to know is...
Do you ever get a case of Blank Notebook Freeze??
(If so, don't give up. I think these bullet journals can still be fun!)