Number 1 with a Bullet

Back in an earlier life, when I was traveling a lot for work and managing projects, people, presentations and sales, I used the Bullet Journal Method to keep everything under control and moving along in the right direction.

The Bullet Journal Method allows you to create your own planner/calendar to organize your life. Because it is paper based and very simple, it won’t let you down when the internet is unavailable and it is infinitely customizable.

In those days my BuJo (Bullet Journal) was very businesslike and – frankly – boring. But the goal was to make sure I showed up at my client library on time, with all the proper materials, contracts, and names – and knowing who used to be at Williams but is now at Princeton. The most exciting it got was using a colored pen or highlighter now and again.

However, as soon as I looked around the web, it became obvious that the “infinitely customizable” aspect of the method had really taken off and there was a whole community of people out there whose bujos were full of art and color and excitement. I found these fascinating, but didn’t have time for anything that wasn’t going to get me to Boston or London on time and well prepared – so I dismissed all that frivolity out of hand!

Fast forward to my new life at Mercer County Library System where the scheduling was much simpler and, though I adapted my bujo to now, I really wasn’t using it much. Then in 2020 a really big change came – like many of you I found myself working from home, disoriented and drifting a bit. I still had stuff that needed doing and without the framework of the library workday it was hard to keep on task, sometimes it was hard to remember what day of the week it was. So I went back to the BuJo Method – but this time with some of that art and color and excitement I had dismissed as frivolous.

My conclusion after a year of this new approach is that my bujo does three things for me. First, it organizes my life so I don’t miss deadlines or birthdays. Second, it gives me a place to manage myself, tracking habits I am trying to build or eradicate. Third, it gives me a place for creativity - this is perhaps the most important.

I have always liked sketching, doodling and playing with paints -- but I know I do not have the talent to be an Artist. So practical person that I am, if art has no purpose and I am not good enough to justify the supplies, then no art for me.

That said, I found that I DO have enough talent to decorate my bujo a bit, and sitting down on Sunday afternoons with a few markers, washi tape and stickers to plan the upcoming week makes me happy. I am even playing around with watercolors – not ever going to paint a landscape worthy of a frame – but I can produce something for my bujo that I will enjoy living with for a week or so.

Dot Journaling - A Practical Guide
hoopla eBook

Here are some titles that can teach you some techniques that you could adapt to your bujo. Who knows – after being creative in your bujo for a while you may find that it opens up new paths for you.

You can also find hours of ‘plan with me’ videos on YouTube. Lots of people share their bujos on Instagram and (I expect) Facebook. Or just stop by the West Windsor Reference Desk and I’ll show you my current week!

One Zentangle a Day
A 6-week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration, and Fun

Local Color
Seeing Place through Watercolor: With 14 Practices

Watercolor is for Everyone
Simple Lessons to Make Your Creative Practice a Daily Habit - 3 Simple Tools, 21 Lessons, Infinite Creative Possibilities

A Complete Guide

Creative Lettering and Beyond
Timeless Calligraphy

It’s not a stretch to say that scrapbooking is adjacent to keeping a bujo and it’s worth having a look at some of these books to pick up ideas about collage, rubber stamps, lettering and many other techniques.

Better Scrapbooking

Classic Scrapbooking

Teach Yourself Visually Scrapbooking

Now you may have noticed that I haven’t said anything about journaling -- the practice of daily writing (or drawing) to record your life. This is a whole other thing and there are a lot of books on building a journal practice and the many ways the practice can improve your life. Just type journaling into the library catalog search box to find them. Here’s a few to get you started.

There are also a lot of ideas in these that can be used in your bullet journal and vice versa.

Journal It!
Perspectives in Creative Journaling

Creative Wildfire
An Introduction to Art Journaling -- Basics and Beyond

Keeping a Nature Journal
Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You

The Art Journal Workshop
hoopla eBook

- by Meg, West Windsor Branch