Things are changing around here (in the bullet journal department, anyway). They have been for a while, to be honest. Gone are the days of strict habit tracking. I am all about creative expression and to-do lists now. It’s been this way for a while, hence the new art bujo account on Instagram (shameless plug I know, go check it out if that tickles your interest @alys.bujo). Today I thought I’d talk about the journey that explains how I got here, and include a selection of pages from January to show you what I’ve been up to…
Some of the most popular posts on my blog are my bullet journal monthly setups. Unfortunately for everyone involved, I haven’t graced the internet with one of these since October. That’s because the way I utilise my bujo has changed – I started university at the end of September and found that the spreads I normally use are unnecessary (and impossible to keep up with) as a student.
So from November, I switched techniques. Now, I only create weekly spreads. This is so I can focus on planning in everything I need to do without wasting time on pages that don’t add much value to my current lifestyle. So doing a monthly setup post would be pretty obsolete as it would just involve the title page and not much else. Instead, I thought I’d do a post with a selection of my most recent weekly spreads in the hope that it inspires you to get creative in your own journal.
I’m having a creative crisis. By this I mean that I was hit out of nowhere with panic over what I’m doing creatively with my life. More specifically, I’m lost in my blogging journey. It’s not writer’s block as such, I have plenty of ideas for posts; I have all the wood I could ever want to build a bonfire. What I seem to have misplaced is the matches. What I need to light the spark of desire to create content has temporarily slipped out of sight. It scares me; it upsets me. Most of all it makes me question everything I’ve created before and if any of it was ‘meaningful’ at all.
And so I’ve taken a step back. It might seem like I’ve only had a few days away from blogging to an outside viewer, as I had regular content going up on my blog until last Wednesday, but in reality I’ve taken a couple of weeks off and relied on scheduled content to get me through. In this time, I’ve become a little distant from the blogging community and haven’t been interacting as much as normal. There are excuses for this – being on holiday, getting ready to move to uni – but my gut instinct tells me these excuses aren’t the reason I’ve removed myself from the online world for a bit.
Conversations With Anxiety is a series which aims to convey what it’s like to live with anxiety. These dialogues are snapshots of the debates I have or have had with anxiety: the things we fight over, the discussions we take part in and the struggle to reason with irrationality.
Me: Let’s go for a run!
Me: It will be good for us.
Anxiety: Us? No no no, you know I hate physical activity – especially physical activity which other people can observe!
Me: Fine, you won’t like it but it will be good for me.
Anxiety: You’re trying to get rid of me aren’t you. You’re doing all of this to push me out.
This is possibly the most excited I’ve been for a bullet journal setup post because I’m starting a new notebook this month. Yep, that’s right, I’m stepping on the Leuchtturm 1917 bandwagon for my new bullet journal. And it’s bright orange.
I wanted something that was going to cheer me up when I looked at it and I think this just about fits the bill. Cracking the spine of a new notebook can be a little daunting, and I definitely had a blank moment staring at the first page. As soon as I got into it though, things flowed a little easier.
As this is the beginning of a new bullet journal, I’ve added a few extra pages before my September spreads which will hopefully be helpful throughout the academic year. I know many of you mainly clicked on this post to see the photos, and not read paragraphs of writing, and so I’m just going to get straight into it…
I’m hoping this journal is going to last me through to at least the end of the academic year (and perhaps over next summer too) hence this title page. I’ve gone for quite a neutral plant theme, as I didn’t really want the start of the journal to define the vibe of the whole notebook.
This is my first time creating a future log – I figured it could be helpful for term dates, university events, birthdays, holidays… anything and everything. Basically a quick overview of the next six months. I have no idea how frequently I’ll use this, or if I’ll find it helpful at all, but I’m willing to give it a go.
Life in pixels
I’ve seen this method used to track many things related to wellbeing – mainly mood. The idea is to colour in each day of the year with how you felt that day. I’ve decided to draw two grids – one for general physical and mental wellbeing (graded good/okay/bad) and the other to note down if I felt any pain that day. As I’ve had on-and-off stomach problems, I think this could be useful for me to try to identify any patterns. It seems a little ambitious for me to think I’ll remember to fill this in every single day, but I’ve decided it’s better to have it there so I can use it when I want to – no pressure.
And now we’re onto the monthly spreads for September! I’ve decided to go for a toadstool theme as it feels fittingly autumnal and toadstools are very easy to doodle. As I don’t have September on my future log, I can use this page to note down any upcoming dates of importance (like moving to university!)
Line a day
This is another new spread for me – although not so different to the gratitude pages I’ve kept before in previous months. I want to record a sentence or two about each day here, so that I have something to jog my memory.
Goals and finances
This one is pretty self-explanatory, really. The first page is the things I want to work on in September, and the second is divided into areas I’ll be spending money on this month.
This one is a little different to the usual grid I draw of habits I want to encourage myself to do. This month, I’ve split it into things that are important to consider each day (and so the list acts as a reminder) and then the things I’d like to do more of but don’t necessarily expect to be daily activities. The toadstool drawings indicate the goal amount of times I’d like to have spent on each activity by the end of the month. I’ll colour in a row every time I do one of these things and hopefully I’ll reach the top of the toadstools!
For the next spread, I’m carrying on the blogging stats page I introduced into my bullet journal last month. This page is helpful because it helps me to see which platforms are growing better than others, and which need a little more attention. On the opposite page, I’ve left space for brainstorming blog post ideas.
And we’ve finally reached the last spread, for which I have a small confession: I really don’t like keeping a food diary. I find it tedious and a little obsessive and I don’t think I’d choose to do this normally. But, because of the stomach problems I’ve experienced, it could be helpful for identifying trigger foods (although my attempts at this have been unsuccessful so far). And so I’m going into September with the gritted teeth and the intention to fill this in every night. Wish me luck.
Washi tape tabs
To make filling in all these spreads a little easier, I’ve decided to use coloured strips of washi tape to indicate which pages need to be updated daily and which can be left a little longer. I think I’m being quite ambitious this month with the number of spreads I want to keep updated – but September always gives me a burst of energy to be a little more ambitious. So I will do my best!
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For the first time since I started this blog in November, a week has gone by without a post appearing. This past week has been a struggle for me: I’ve felt extremely low, often anxious and quite lost. Normally, creativity in the form of writing helps to drag me back out of these periods, but this time has been a little different. I felt like I lost all motivation and inspiration, and that it would be hopelessly pointless to put words down on paper, or rather, a screen, and share them with the world.
This process of retreating away from the sometimes overwhelming world of social media gave me necessary isolation and a break from the speed at which things fly up our news feeds online. It also led me to a desire to create something for myself without the pressure of putting it out there for everyone to see. And so I returned to a neglected love of mine, filmmaking, and created a short spoken word poetry video about this lost feeling I was experiencing.
First of all I’d like to apologise for the sporadic and spontaneous posts that seem to be appearing on my blog at the moment. Recently, having started my new job on top of trying to catch up with some uni work, I’ve been pushed a little off-kilter and my routine of writing a post every day or two has become disrupted. This is something I’m trying to amend though, so hopefully I can find a new sort of routine to slide into once I find my feet at work.
At the start of the year, I wrote a blog post detailing my experiences of what it’s like to shoot manual photos for the first time. Today I’d like to revisit that topic and offer a few tips to anyone out there trying to get into it themselves.