What I’ve been doing….

Back in March, I ran across references to what people call Bullet Journals. I was intrigued so I started researching it and in the middle of the month I started creating my own. This was a rather interesting journey which has taken me places I had been wanting to go but seemed rather hesitant to go there.

Let me explain, and for those who don’t know what a bullet journal is, I’ll describe it in my own words as best I can. Many start to use it as a planner because they can’t find a planner that fits them the way they want it to and have become frustrated over spending loads of money on something they end up using only for a short while and give up. I’ve been there. Others use it as a way to express or exercise their creativity. Basically you can make it as simple as you want it to be or as complex as you may need it to be.

Honestly, I don’t really have a lot I need to track, or at least I didn’t think I did when I started it. I started it mainly because when I lost my job and I was so stressed over how devastated that made me feel and needing to find a job, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss any important appointments. I was having a lot as you can imagine, between financial adviser, doctor appointments, insurance adviser and so on, so I basically started this to make sure I had a place to track all my appointments with the added plus of giving me something to focus on.

At first my Bullet Journal (BuJo) started out very basic and bland, a calendar, a weekly spread and I tried using the dailies where I list tasks for each day. The dailies didn’t work out, things got in the way or emotionally I was just too distraught so I ended up carrying the tasks forward several times. I decided a monthly overview calendar and weeklies would work best and they do. The dailies I do are really just journal entries, my thoughts about the day.

Once I had ironed out the layouts I liked, I decided to use a tracker for those things I need to do consistently, whether it is daily, weekly or monthly. Then in June I introduced a mood tracker for me. In, August I introduced a mood tracker for my daughter which I have her fill out. I’ll explain that a little later.

By June, I was adding a little color and doodles to give a bit of a decorative touch but I was less than thrilled with how it was coming out. In June I also started some challenges which I will also talk about later. Over the months I watched A LOT and I do mean A LOT of videos, mostly on YouTube, not just about bullet journaling but also about art journaling and some scrapbooking and just arts and crafts in general, like watercolor and acrylic painting. These all led to changes going forward in my BuJo.

I can’t begin to list the various YouTubers for fear of leaving someone out.

Now in August, I feel as though my BuJo has become a mixture of a bullet journal and an art journal and I’ll show you what I mean.

When I started my BuJo, I decided to use one of the journals I already have. I have lots of them partially written in. I selected the MiquelRius, which has grid paper and around 300 pages. It worked beautifully. Except I didn’t like the ghosting from the pens and markers I was using, so I started gluing two pages together. This eventually caused the journal to start coming apart at the binding. I was upset about this but I decided to make the best of it.

Remember me saying, I was one of those people who had tried other planners? Well, I had a DayRunner binder which I hadn’t used in years. It was perfect size for the pages from the MiquelRius journal. I found I could pull out the pages fairly easily and keep them in tact, punch holes in them and put them in the binder.

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DayRunner Planner binder

I decided this was the perfect opportunity to improve upon my BuJo, so I created a title page and did some decorating.

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Title page for my Bullet Journal

On the back of the title page, I added some more decoration. I had been playing around with creating mandalas and so I thought I would add one to my journal.

I also updated my Index pages. I disliked the original index I had because it was so hard to read and find anything and I had seen this layout and liked it. I felt it would work better with the new flexibility of using a binder instead of a fixed book where I couldn’t reorganize my pages. This is an example of how plain my original pages were when I first started my BuJo.

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Back of the title page and the first page to my index

I also recreated my yearly calendar. I like having a yearly view so I can look ahead, especially if I have appointments being scheduled before I have the monthly calendar created for when the appointment is being made.

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back of my first index page, and my yearly calendar

On the back of the yearly calendar, I added a “Dates to Remember” page. I’m awful about keeping up with birthdays or special days, so having this list, I can refer to when I create monthly calendars helps remind me when those dates are coming up.

Today, I created dividers for my BuJo, so I can easily find things. I also added pockets on the dividers in case I have something I need to add or use to reference.

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Dates to remember page and divider with pockets

July was the first month I created a “Hello July” page which is like a title page that announces the new month starting. I enjoyed creating it so much, I made a “Good-bye July” page, and then an “August” page. This is all hand drawn by me. Many people use stickers and tape to add color and decoration to their journals and at first I thought about doing it too but with not having a job, I need to watch my expenses. Plus, I like creating it all. That means it is an original piece of art by me. And will be great for my daughter to have.

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back side of the divider which has a pocket, and my title page for August

After the title page, I create a 2 page monthly calendar spread. I put anything on here I want to be reminded of so I can add it to my weekly. There is a future log section on the right so I can write down any appointments or things I need to do down the road after August. I create small calendars of the preceding and following months just for a quick reference.

As you can see I added color to the whole page. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of whether my pens would react to water so some of them bled and smeared. Others I smeared on purpose. Since then I have made a Pen Test page to check for their reaction to water. I used watercolor to color the page. I tried adding some decorative design between the days, didn’t like it, so I used water to blend out the black marker. I have rectangles at the top of the pages for numbering later. At the end of the month I’ll number the pages after I’m sure I won’t be adding any more pages to August. That way I can insert pages wherever I want them to be without causing an issue with the numbering.

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August monthly calendar spread

Following the monthly spread, I create my weekly spreads and I also created “Be Thankful” pages. To make it easy, as I work on each week, I put the “Be Thankful” page I’m working on next to the weekly page. I have a bookmark with a hole punched in it so it doesn’t fall out of my planner, which it did quite frequently until I figured out this simple solution.

I made the bookmark, and the beads are glow in the dark, which I love. As you can see I’m adding color to all my pages. I just do a simple watercolor or acrylic wash on them after I put down the layout. Then when I go to a new page I add the details, or I add them as I have time. I make the layouts for the whole month ahead of time if I can. Which is what I did here.

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First week of August, and first 4 days of “Be Thankful”.

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A better view of “Be Thankful” with the bookmark out of the way.

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Be Thankful and weekly layout

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more weekly layouts

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another weekly and be thankful layouts

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more be thankful layouts

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last be thankful layout and the divider page with pockets

Next comes my trackers. This first one tracks things I need to do daily, weekly and monthly. I basically use this as a reminder for me for some things and for others just to gage how long it has been since I’ve done something, like cleaning out the fridge, or how long it has gone since I clipped our dog’s nails.

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divider with pockets and my tracker

I have mood trackers for both my daughter and me. This is for several reasons but mostly because we both suffer anxiety and panic attacks and I want to see if we can determine if there are any triggers. There are other reasons too, mostly to make us both more aware, because sometimes one really bad day can make us feel like our whole life is bad. This helps us to see it isn’t as bad as it might seem.

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my daughter’s and my mood trackers

Next are the challenges I’m involved in. Back when I had my breakdown when working at my new job, I lost all interest in everything for several weeks. After having to quit my job because I was on probation and my doctor recommended I take 3 months off work, I really wanted to reawaken my creativity. I came across a Zen Art Challenge in July. Making that commitment wasn’t difficult because it would take at the most ten minutes out of my day. Plus no one would see it unless I wanted them to. It didn’t take long before I felt the desire to do more and more, and eventually by the end of July I was adding more and more art to my BuJo.

Then in August, I continued the Zen Art Challenge and added a Doodling Challenge. These are pictures so far of this month’s drawings.  I will create a couple in pen, and then wait until I have a couple done, then I’ll use watercolor pencil to color them.

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Next, I have my daily pages. These are just journaling pages. I write whatever comes to mind concerning my day and what I want to remember about it. I started the end of June creating borders around my daily pages and I’ve continued it but now in August I’m adding color to the whole page. I love this effect. Some pages ended up looking like old documents. Some end up upside down, like August 1 and 2, because I got confused with them out of my journal which direction the pages went. I laugh every time I see those pages.

I’m working ahead on my daily pages in creating the borders and adding color because I have realized I sometimes may need to write more than one page for a single day. These pictures show how I’m working ahead. I first do the border design in pencil, go over it in ink, then add the watercolor or acrylic wash to the pages. I used different color of ink each day to write my journal entry.

I keep all my daily pages together. I like grouping the different types of spreads together and using dividers to separate them so I can easily turn to the section I want.

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The last section is for collections. Those things that aren’t associated with any particular month or year. This is at the back of my binder and is for things like my Pen Test page, Books I want to Purchase page, Color Charts. I also have some other things I won’t show here because of personal information, like tracking medical appointments, medication, etc I need to file claims for, and things like property tax, renewing passports, driver’s license, etc. so I can keep track of when things expire or come due.

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Soooo…. this is what I’ve been up to.

I’m doing other things too.

I started a Positive Words Art Journal, which I’m enjoying. I needed to work on being more positive. Each spread is devoted to a letter of the alphabet, and I try to find something artistic to do on the page besides just words that has some relevance. I don’t do this every day, I work on it over several days.

I tried an ICAD 2016 Challenge (index card a day), which ended up with me doing just whatever in order to decorate an index card every day. This didn’t happen until about Day 20.  I ended up with a couple of really nice cards and actually discovered a technique I fell in love with. In the end it became more like a chore, so I put it aside. I just won’t be doing them every day. When I have something I want to try, an index card is perfect because it is small and will take no time to do.

I continue to watch live streams and youtube videos and have come across some ideas I want to try, something like combining a scrapbook with art journaling, and actually incorporating small journal books into the scrapbook. Instead of gluing in pictures, I can insert my small art pieces onto the photo mats.

I have also been creating a digital copies of my layouts and borders I’m creating in my BuJo. The border designs are in jpeg format and can easily be inserted into a word document and stretched to fill whatever size page a person wants, then be printed on printer paper or card stock or whatever paper can be printed on by their printer. I love this because it means if I ever don’t have the time to hand draw them like I’ve been doing I can just print one up, punch holes in it and insert it into my BuJo.

Oh and I’m still doing my tangle cards.

In other areas of my life, I’m not working. I am looking for a job. I’m hoping for something not so stressful. The last job had way too much stress involved. I’ve had a couple interviews just no offers yet. I’m going to rewrite my resume after hearing some suggestions which made sense the other day. Wish me luck.

~Kate

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About Kate Spyder

I'm a creative individual finding her way in her writing. I enjoy expressing my deep thoughts through poetry and stories. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy writing them.
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