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What is “Bullet Journaling”?

One of our favorite new year obsessions. It’s a way to plan and document your year, your way. Bullet journaling makes each day feel unique, sacrosanct, intentional. Days have been lived and documented, can be felt and paged through. We recommend you check out Pinterest for inspiration, since Pinteresters have been bullet journaling since pre-Pinterest times.

We love bullet journaling for several reasons:

1. it’s been studied as an effective tool to battle the commodification of time and personal data: “While bullet journaling clearly aligns with productivity imperatives, it can also be understood as a practice of what Nafus and Sherman call “soft resistance” [51]. When people reclaim the design, form and function of information about their everyday lives, they also take charge over its meaning, only letting others see what they explicitly let them, when and how. In this sense, bullet journaling could be interpreted as a form of critique - an oppositional action – towards the dominant and unavoidable technologies and infrastructures of our lives, such as search engines, cloud technologies, and messaging systems.”

2. We get to choose the kind, frequency, and presentation of our data. We can choose to document the books we’ve read over the course of a month (or year), or we can choose to track our moods, or we can sketch out our outfits of each day. What do you feel about your day is most representative of you as person, as artist, as sister, as friend? How do you want to choose to represent current you to future you? This is the radical power of the bullet journal: it’s self-reflective, introspective, and creative, and intentional.

Why bullet journaling? Why not “regular” journaling?

We also love bullet journaling for its refining power. For instance, if one of your New Year's Resolutions is to curate a personal style, a bullet journal might be helpful. If you’re able to track clothing pieces that catch your eye in an intentional way, you can conduct a kind of fashion analysis on them. What about these pieces did I like? What grabbed my attention? In which contexts can I envision myself wearing this piece of clothing? The creative agency of the journal, too, affords

In a similar “refining” vein, a bullet journal can help you think about the ways you contextualize yourself. A recent study found that, on average, a person has approximately 6,000 thoughts per day. Every hour, you experience and engage with about 250 thoughts. Bullet journaling can help you inventory these thoughts by categorizing, shuffling, highlighting, and lowlighting them. If you notice that each day, you’re particularly occupied with a certain thought--let’s say, you’re anxious about a certain friendship--then bullet journaling can help you assess your priorities. How often are you thinking about this? Are you choosing to incorporate it into your journal to represent current you to future you? Why might this be important? This “refining” process can be applied to several aspects of our lives, and can help us work on things we might not realize have been weighing on our minds.

How to get started

First and foremost, you need a notebook or journal of some kind. The college-ruled notebook your grandma gave you for your 9th birthday will do. Or, if you find that you use things once you’ve purchased something new, go for it. The medium isn’t as important as the content. Next, you’ll want some kind of writing tool--pens, pencils, markers, crayons--anything you know that you’ll be excited by and use. Lastly, you’ll want to assemble some kind of inspiration. Here are some of our favorites

Wellella

Again, here are the examples of “refining.” If you want to limit your phone time, track it! If you want to focus on gratitude, be explicit in what you’re grateful for! If you want to spend more time reading, visualize that for yourself in a way that’s conducive to your goals!

One of the most important, and oft overlooked, parts of bullet journaling is consistency. You’ll need to carve out space every day to commit to journaling. If you’re a morning person, maybe you’ll set your alarm 15 minutes early to fill out an entry. If you’re productive mid-day, maybe you want to doodle around noon. You know your schedule best; be intentional with the time of day you choose. If you know that you might struggle with the time commitment, following one (or several) influencers that bullet journal daily might help you stay on track. Better yet, convince friends and family to join you!

Bullet journaling is deeply personal, endlessly useful, and a unique way to stimulate creative, thoughtful, and intentional conversation with yourself. Have fun and be creative!

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