Hannah Drake

Self Care

7 Bullet Journal Myths

Self CareHannah DrakeComment

A lot has changed about me since middle school, but one constant has been my love for paper planners. I loved getting those school-issued planners in middle school and high school. They always had those shiny, holographic covers that were textured so you run your fingernails over it and it would almost sing. I colour-coded my classes and homework assignments, added soccer and track practice or when my high school had their big rivalry games. Back then, it was the only way to stay organised, to plan ahead. (Maybe fancy adults had a palm pilot by that point, who knows.)

In my post-school life, I continued the paper planner trend, buying a yearly planner at Target. Whichever looked prettiest and best fit my needs. Eventually I was introduced to the Erin Condren Life Planner and used her planners for three or four years, costing over $200. I spent even more money on custom stickers off Etsy and I reached pique excitement when she partnered with Pure Barre for a new line of products while I was managing the Boulder studio.

There was a brief period in early 2017 when I thought I would make the switch to iCal. I spent ages adding everything into my iCal and syncing them between my phone and computer. I thought it would be life-changing. I would be able to make plans on the fly with just my phone in hand, knowing exactly what my schedule looked like since I never carried my planner around (since I never really carried a purse, or a large one at that). Brief, it was, though. And when a friend introduced me to the Bullet Journal, it was just the answer I was looking for!

I’ve been using a Bullet Journal for two years now and I’ve learned quite a lot about how I stay organised and my creative abilities. Toward the end of last year, I had really streamlined my BuJo, taking a very minimalist approach and using a page for every day. Earlier this year, my friend Emily inspired me to take a more creative approach to my 2019 BuJo and it has become therapeutic for me.

As I’ve shared more about my BuJo with my friends or on social media, I’ve gotten quite a few questions, certainly more than I expected. I thought I’d share some of the common misconceptions about bullet journaling and bust some of the myths that might be preventing you from starting your own BuJo.

YOU NEED A SPECIFIC (DOTTED) JOURNAL

Bullet Journaling simply refers to how you set up your journal, not what kind of journal you use. I use the LEUCHTTURM1917 A5 Notebook, which is dotted, but you can use any notebook or journal you want. It can be lined, dotted, graphed, or even blank. It can be new or old. It can be empty or half-full. This is entirely up to you.

I chose a dotted journal because it allows me to create lines, grids, and makes it really easy to space out my creations. I used to write between the lines in school when we used line paper for everything, so it works well for me.

YOU NEED TO FOLLOW THE RULES

Once you have whichever notebook or journal you want, focus on setting it up. You can use the four key concepts in bullet journaling, but you can also do your own thing. I’ve used the four concepts as a starting point, but definitely evolved to make things my own and make my bullet journal work best for me.

  • Index (the LEUCHTTURM1917 A5 Notebook already comes with one!) - It’s basically a table of contents. When you add something to your BuJo, add it to the index so it’s easily found.

  • Collections - What you add in your BuJo are your collections. You’ll have a future log, a monthly log, a daily log, and everything else. (Meal planning, lists, goals, habit tracking, sketches/doodles, notes, reviews, etc.) Everything is a collection and this is really where you get to customise it to best fit your needs.

  • Rapid-logging - This is the essence of the BuJo system and consists of bullets and simplifiers. You’ll have task bullets (do laundry, send birthday card, etc.), event bullets (meeting, yoga, dinner with friends, etc.), and note bullets (observations, thoughts, facts, other things you want to remember) Using the BuJo system, task bullets will look like this:

    • Task - Precedes any Task you write down.

    X Completed - Once you’ve completed a Task, mark it with a X

    > Migrated - If you didn’t complete a Task, you Migrate it to another Collection.

    < Scheduled - Tasks with specific dates in the future. These can be added to the Future Log.

    Event bullets will be represented with a O (filled in when complete, or crossed off if cancelled). Note bullets will be represented with a dash.

  • Migration - On a regular basis, you need to look over your bullets and move them to future collections. If things were undone or simply scheduled for the future, you migrate them to a later date.

Here’s the thing to remember: No one is going to check your work. There is no BuJo police that are going to come after you if you make tweaks in the system to create something that best serves you. For example, even though you’re “supposed” to use a carrot (>) when you move a task, I use an arrow (→ ). Even though it’s recommend that you migrate your tasks at the end of the month, I do it daily because I keep my tasks lists (to-do list) with my calendar and create a task list for each day.

YOU NEED TO SET IT UP BEFORE YOU START

Honestly, I would consider this the biggest BuJo mistake you can make because I’ve been there. When I got my first Bullet Journal, I spent probably a week setting up the rest of the year (probably 9 or 10 months) in daily logs. (I think at this point, I was using a week per two-page spread, but I’m not positive because that BuJo is at my mom’s house in Colorado.) It ended up being the biggest waste of my time you could imagine and because of that, I really didn’t enjoy bullet journaling.

I hated the colour I chose for the dates and times. (Lime green. Why?!) I hated the format I chose because it mimicked planners I had used in the past, but didn’t best serve my needs. I didn’t have the space I wanted for other collections where I wanted them. I felt trapped!

YOU NEED TO STICK WITH WHAT YOU STARTED

On those same lines, I always recommend setting it up one month at a time. You are allowed to change your mind. You are allowed to reformat everything. You are allowed to create a system that works best for you. If you set up January and it’s not working, change it in February. (This is why you shouldn’t set it up all in one go.)

In my last BuJo, I used one page per day. I used the far right third of the page for my tasks and the rest as an hourly calendar from 6:00 to 23:00. I made note of special dates (birthdays, anniversaries) in the top right corner. Over all, it looked very minimalist (what I wanted) and it was simple to set up the day, but incredibly time-consuming to set up the entire month.

This month, I started a new journal and moved back to a two-page weekly spread for March. It cuts my space way down in terms of margins, hourly blocks, and list space, but I can outline an entire week in less than 10 minutes. However, I did commit to using a two-page weekly spread through the rest of the year since I counted out the number of pages I needed and then started my “notes” collection on the next page.

YOU NEED TO BE CREATIVE & ARTISTIC

Nope. Definitely not. I’m not very artistic (which is part of the reason I love having the dotted journal) and I do get envious when I see beautiful BuJo spreads on Instagram and Pinterest. But being creative or artistic certainly isn’t a pre-requisite. You don’t need to be a skilled artist or calligrapher. You just need to create something that works for you. (And maybe a Bullet Journal isn’t what’s best for you. Maybe you’re best served by a planner that has already been set up for you. Or maybe you’re even one of those people living in the future who uses the calendar on their phone and computer.)

I do firmly believe, though, that using a BuJo to its fullest potential might make you more creative and more artistic. You can doodle. You can practice. You can try new things. And if it doesn’t work out, you can start fresh on the next page.

YOU NEED FANCY PENS OR MARKERS

Again, no. No one is going to tell you what you need to use to write in your BuJo. You can use the pen you accidentally took from your bank or that you picked up at a work conference. Though, I’d be willing to bet that if you’re using—or considering using—a BuJo, you probably have a favourite pen. I know I do!

There is a lot of information out there about what pens and markers people are using in their BuJo (I’ll tell you mine below). At least from what I’ve seen, Bullet Journalers on Instagram especially are happy to tell you exactly what they’re using in their photos or videos.

Those sorts of costs add up and if you don’t have the budget for it or the interest in it, you certainly don’t need to invest in a pack of brand new pens and markers like it’s almost the first day of school. And you don’t need to use the same pen(s) every time.

YOU NEED LOTS OF COLOUR

Last, but certainly not least, here’s your final no. There are a lot of colourful BuJo pages on Instagram and Pinterest but that does not need to be you if it’s not your style. (Remember, this is your style!) If you want to stick with a simple black pen for everything, go for it. If you just want to add in one or even a handful of colours, go for it! You do you!

Personally, I use black to set up my templates. (I learned from the lime green that definitely was not my style.) I love the minimalist vibes and simplicity of it. Just about everything else is colour coded though. I have colours for work, friends, family, household, travel, goals, my blog. I even have a colour for Luke’s calendar for things he does without me. So even though the set up is black, there is still colour on my pages because that’s what I want.

MY BULLET JOURNAL TOOLS

Like I said above, I use the LEUCHTTURM1917 A5 Notebook. My last two have been grey, but I’ve also had a black one and use a black one for our recipe book.

My aforementioned favourite pen is the Uni-Ball Signo Micro 207, which—to my knowledge—are not readily available in the UK. I bought a pack to bring back after Christmas and was very sad to discover that they’re not micro so too thick for my liking. The micro pens do bleed through a little in my BuJo.

I’ve loved PaperMate Felt Tip pens in my planner for years. Like my ball point pens, they do bleed through, but I don’t really mind. I currently have the 16+2 pack that I probably got in 2016 or 2017. I’ve seriously had this pack forever and only had to replace the two blacks, which is easy since they’re sold separately.

I recently got the Tombow Dual Brush Pens in primary colours and pastel colours. They’re quite new and I’ve been practising brush lettering separately, but I do like adding a bit of colour with them in my journal (they’ve basically replaced my 6 pack of highlighters) and they don’t bleed through, at least that I’ve found.

I also started adding a bit of washi tape to this iteration. The colours have no other meaning, I just picked patterns I like. For some reason I’m a bit hesitant to incorporate it a lot, but I like it here and there and especially on the edge of the pages to easily find where things start.

Finally, I use tipex and a triangular ruler. I’m not the type who is going to cross out something that was cancelled. I have to white it out and it has to be white out tape. Maybe that’s not true bullet journaling, but it’s my style! I also started using a ruler sometime last year to help my OCD mind because I couldn’t draw a straight line to save my life!

MY BULLET JOURNAL COLLECTIONS

At the very beginning of my BuJo, I have my check ins page. Here, I track my emotions with what I learned through a retreat and small group with my church in Colorado. I check in as sad, angry, scared, happy, excited, tender, ashamed, peaceful, hopeful, and/or grateful. They’re colour-coded separately than the rest of my journal with colours kind of associated with those emotions. (Red for anger, blue for sadness, etc.)

Next, I have my “content calendar” which is definitely a blogger term I roll my eyes at, but scheduling my blog posts is really helpful for me. I’ve started using colour-coded post it notes for each category on my blog (the colours are loosely based on the colours in the rest of my journal) to make it easier to reschedule posts. Before, I was going through a heck of a lot of white out and I couldn’t even write on some squares because I had changed my mind three or four times. It’s kind of inspired by the collaborative planning system used at work and it’s really working for me right now.

The last thing in the front of my journal is our meal planner. I have a box for each week through the end of the year and our “schedule” at the beginning. We fill it in on a weekly basis, though having it all already created (despite what I said above) makes it easy to add in events and special meals well in advance, like Thanksgiving! Because it’s such a basic template, I’m fine with not having the ability to change it for the rest of the year.

The middle of my journal is my monthly and daily logs. So far, I’ve only finished March, but I’m working on setting up April (with essentially no changes) now.

In the “notes section”, I have all my habit trackers. I used to separate them by month and have a column per habit, but now I’ve separated them by habit and have a column (or row or box) per month. I have TV trackers (one specifically for Game of Thrones since we were watching one episode per week for a while) and books to read. I have some other notes. I have a ton of blank pages to fill in the future. And the last 12 two-page spreads are reserved for monthly reviews, where I can track some stats (from my FitBit and my blog analytics), successes, things to look forward to or goals going forward, and more.

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A Sunday Well Spent

Self CareHannah DrakeComment

I’ve been seeing more and more about how awful Sundays are and the so-called “Sunday Scaries”, but I don’t buy into any of that for a minute. Sundays are actually my favourite day of the week, especially Sunday evenings. Here are 4 things that I started doing on Sundays that change the way I view the day.

MEAL PLAN + GROCERY SHOP FOR THE WEEK

We meal plan every Sunday, but we never meal prep. Both of us enjoy cooking and we take turns throughout the week, sometimes cooking together. However, meal planning sets us up for the week so we know what we’re doing every night for dinner and don’t have to try to figure something out after work. It also gives us an opportunity to look over our schedules for the week and see what we have coming up either together or individually.

Now, with our new grocery store open, I really enjoy going to the store. It’s fun and it doesn’t take as long now that they have Smart Shop. (I’ll post more about this on Friday.)

HAVE A SUNDAY RITUAL

We decided back in the spring that we would watch one episode of Game of Thrones every week since there wouldn’t be any new episodes in 2018. It put us on a schedule to finish mid-July, but we had to readjust and start doubling up when they announced that the new season starts the 14th of April. (!!!!!) It gives us something to look forward to every week and makes the day special even in a tiny way. Now I understand why all the best shows are on Sundays. It’s the best!

PRACTICE #SELFCARESUNDAY

It’s sometimes part of our Sunday ritual, but not always. Last year as I was prepping for our wedding, my younger sister suggested I just get into a good moisturising routine. I decided to also look into face masks for the first time and went into LUSH to find one that would be right for my skin, but I’ve since switched to The Body Shop. Now, Sundays have become face mask nights and it honestly feels so good to take care of my skin for the first time in my life!

We also do a little foot spa with a hot Epsom salt soak to give our feet some TLC. Luke’s arches have been incredibly tight lately, so we’ve been doing joint 10 minute foot massages some evenings, but it’s also really good to open up his pores to get some essential oils deep in there!

Check out my DIY At Home Spa Night post for everything you need to make your Sunday evenings a relaxing #SelfCareSunday.

HONOUR YOUR TIME ON SUNDAYS

I have become fiercely protective of my Sunday nights. My preference is to be at home, in my PJs, with my husband after 18:00 on a Sunday. (And the earlier the better.) I found myself bailing on Sunday evening plans so I could spend the evening exactly how I wanted. I don’t really want to be that guy, so now I’ve learned to just not make plans on Sunday evenings at all because I know I won’t show up. Of course there will be a rare exception from time to time. But the point is spend your time on Sundays in a way that best serves you. Maybe it is to hang out with friends or family. Maybe you too just want to cuddle up on the couch for the evening. Just do what’s best for y o u.

And by the way, one great exception to my Sunday evening rule would be Game of Thrones. I watched two seasons with the same group of friends and absolutely loved it! (Sadly Game of Thrones is available in the UK at the exact same time it’s available in the US, which means most people watch it on Monday rather than stay up and start it at 2:00 in the morning.)

This post contains affiliate links, so I may make a commission off any purchase you make through the link. Thank you for supporting my blog!

5 Ways to Slow Down During the Holidays

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5 Ways to Slow Down During the Holidays

To say it’s a busy time of year would be an understatement, right? We all know the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and how quickly our calendars can fill up with parties and activities and shopping. The Christmas season always seems to fly by, but this year I want to focus on slowing down and being present. If you’re interested in doing the same, I’ve got some suggestions for you.

GET OUTSIDE INTO NATURE

Growing up in Colorado, it was surprisingly hit or miss for a white Christmas. But no matter if it was sweatshirt weather or parka weather, the mountains were there and they were calling. Getting away from the bustling city streets during this time of year can work wonders on you, I promise. There’s something so peaceful about getting away from the noise and the lights and the busy. You can find a new stillness. You can pause and take in your surroundings. And that’s even if you don’t live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. No matter where you are, there’s got to be a walking trail nearby.

SCHEDULE FREE TIME

This is so, so important. It’s really easy to fill your calendar one event at a time and before you know it, you’ve got something happening every night of the week or you might even be double-booked! Once you have a few major events on the books, block off some quiet time where you can unwind with a holiday movie or just have a quiet night at home with your family. Literally put it on your calendar so if something else comes up, you know you’re “busy” that night. You’ll likely feel less drained when you’re making the holiday rounds, but the key is absolutely JOMO. Instead of the fear of missing out, embrace the joy of missing out!

FOCUS ON MAKING MEMORIES

This year, both sides of my family have decided to forgo gift exchanges in the name of family experiences. It has made things a lot easier for us, both for time and money, since we don’t have to spend the weeks leading up to Christmas shopping for everyone on our list. But it also means getting to plan events with my mom, my stepmom, or my sisters. Our goal is to create memories that will last a life time rather than fill up our homes with more stuff.

Even if that’s not your style (which is totally cool, by the way; I love gifts too), there’s still plenty to do with your family, your significant other, or your friends where you can truly be present and celebrate the season.

VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME

Volunteering will take you outside of your self (and maybe outside of your comfort zone) for a little while and that’s an amazing thing to experience. Find a place in town where you can volunteer a couple of hours during the holidays. Maybe sign up with some friends or your family and make a day out of it. Fill an Operation Christmas Child box to send to a child who probably won’t get anything else this Christmas. (Now you can do it online so you don’t even have to navigate a busy store.) Find a way to give back and consider those who are less fortunate that you this holiday season. It might inspire you to take some time to more fully appreciate the blessings you have at home.

UNPLUG

Let’s start with the obvious: Disconnect from social media. Set your phone down in another room and walk away. Whether you’re just watching your favourite holiday movie or you’re at a holiday party, unplug and be present. Instagram can wait. You don’t need to live-Snap everything you’re doing. And it’s totally okay if you don’t check in on Facebook. My goal for this holiday season is to do more of that. Less sharing my life on social media and more living my life in real time.

But maybe it’s difficult for you to find the stamina to make it through the holiday season that only seems to be getting longer and longer each year. That’s totally okay and you gotta do what you gotta do! Take care of yourself, even if that means turning off the timer for the Christmas lights one evening, watching a regular movie instead of Elf for the 5th time in three weeks, or just getting away from the commercialisation of Christmas. If that’s what you need to do in order to make it to Christmas Morning, do it!