My Penmanship is Terrible and Other Lessons Learned from Bullet Journaling

    Life in the digital world is exhausting. It’s a barrage of new devices, world altering apps and #lifehacks. Using Forever 21 as a trend barometer, if what was old is indeed new again then maybe analog is the future. Make no mistake, the 21st century is great, but does everything need a digital update? I present the note taking app. There is no replacement for a pen and pad. Note taking apps have never jibed with me. The victorious feeling associated with drawing a bold line through a completed task is unequalled. We were on to something with the Trapper Keeper.

    During a recent journey down the Instagram rabbit hole, I happened upon the bullet journal. Captured in a delicately curated Moleskin lived easy to adopt principles for list making and goal setting. To-dos were categorized and goals were charted in a visually stunning fashion. Doesn’t hurt that the tutorials are oddly soothing (borderline hypnotic) to watch.

    Eureka! A thinly veiled Lisa Frank diary for grown-ups, the bullet journal was going restore my digital analog equilibrium and create harmony. This was also going to save my purse from being a repository of Post-its containing grocery lists, to-dos and pizza recommendations. I couldn’t continue living in a world where, due to my sieve brain, exceptional pizza went uneaten. Full disclosure: this project was motivated entirely by pizza.

    In theory, my bullet journal was going to be the envy of every bullet journalist the world over. A trip to Michaels and more dollars shed than I’ll admit later, I had the requisite markers, stickers and Washi tape. I hurried home, dumped out my loot like a kid with their Halloween candy and got to work.

    After an hour, I was feeling the opposite of inspired. Overwhelmed and frustrated, I was paralyzed by the pressure to create a masterpiece on my first attempt. My inner monologue was racing with thoughts and questions: This looked easier on YouTube, Why is it so difficult to draw a straight line? Is Wite-Out still a thing and is it available on Prime? I walked to my kitchen and stress ate some humble pie.

    How was I stressing over something that was packaged and sold as soothing? Suddenly, there it was. My Oprah “A-ha” moment. I was duped by the internet. Inconceivable!

    Did I anticipate finding greater meaning in creating a bullet journal? Certainly not. Sharing a few points for reflection:

    1)      You do you

    It’s perfectly fine if your life bullet journal doesn’t resemble what you see on the internet. Understand that most all of what you see in the digital world is the highly edited and final version of many draft iterations. Be kind to yourself. Celebrate that you’ve made the leap to try something new.

    2)      Start small

    Trying something new is exhilarating yet scary. It’s why we generally stay in our own lane. Start somewhere and that’s good enough.

    3)      Be authentic

    Not a linear person? Me either. Perhaps you don’t have the bandwidth watch tutorials and painstakingly draw grids. If you want to throw your Washi tape out the window, buy one of these and pretend nothing happened– rock on.

    In reality, my bullet journal is far from Pinterest-worthy. It is an orange notebook that contains my half-baked thoughts scribbled in my print cursive hybrid. While TED isn’t calling me to present on bullet journaling; I don’t consider my foray a waste of time or resources. I’ve adopted new organizational principles and welcomed a semblance of order to my world. 

    Guest Post by: Stephanie Asymkos