I’m a writer. I’ve been a writer since I first held a pencil and figured out how to spell, both somewhere around the first grade. (I was a late bloomer.) Writing is as integral to my identity as my name or my face.
Yet somehow this past year, I found myself not writing.
Sure, I was talking about writing. I was reading about the craft of writing. I was thinking about writing all the time. But the words were not making it to the paper.
To be fair, other important activities were being neglected as well. Things like exercise, time in nature, walking the dog (unforgivable, I know!). Things like fun. But who has time for fun these days? Between parenting teenagers, eking out a career as a freelancer, running a household, carpooling, and engaging with my spouse, my days — like everyone else’s — are full. Add in the distraction of social media and time slips away faster than the bubbles in the bath I keep neglecting to take.
So this January, I decided to be more mindful of how I wanted to spend my time. I’d been reading about bullet journals (there’s a great — if slightly salty — explanation of what they are here, and our own Barbara O’Neal talks about her take on them here.) In short, bullet journals are a combination daily planner, journal, to-do list, and goal-setting guide, personalized for your individual situation.
I’m not artistic, so I kept mine simple. No beautiful pencil sketches or intricately decorated text, just a yearly calendar where I list big-ticket items that are happening, a monthly calendar so I can see the overall picture for that month, and a daily calendar that lets me list to-dos. (Although I’ll admit, now that I’m three months in, I’ve started jazzing up the pages with cutouts from magazines and inspirational sayings that catch my fancy. It’s a slippery slope.)
These pages serve as a kind of “brain dump” for me, so I can put down some of the tasks that are floating around in my head taking up valuable space. I’ve found that even though I have duplicate lists/calendars on my phone and computer, there’s something soothing about seeing everything written out in black and white.
I also created a habit-tracker — a simple monthly grid that lists the habits I want to create. Each day that I perform one of those habits, I simply fill in a colored bubble for that date. By the end of the month, I can tell at a glance that I’ve walked the dog 10 times, exercised 11, and meditated not at all. (Life — it’s a work in progress.)