Wellness, Productivity, Balance for Graduate Students and Beyond

Friday Fun: A More Minimalist Bullet Journal

Coming off the heels of a busy, draining month, I was struggling to find the time (or motivation) to keep up with my bullet journal, much less set up my spreads for August. So I decided (or chose by lack of other options, essentially) to go without my bullet journal or planner for the week to see how it went.

The short answer is: not well. So here's what I missed, what I didn't, and what I came up with for next week. 

Things I missed:

  • A place to write down tasks as they happened. I tried keeping them on a running list in a digital sticky on my desktop but quickly got overwhelmed. 
  • A few minutes in the morning to center myself and plan the day. I tried reading, or eating a more substantial breakfast, in that time, but ultimately landed in my work day scattered without a good plan for order of tasks.  
  • A water tracker. My post-kidney stone life demands that I pay attention to my water intake, and I found myself surfacing from a work session and not remembering whether I had had any water. 
  • My gratitude list. 
  • Little bits of color and a chance to doodle during the day. 

Things I didn't miss:

  • My self-care tracker. I know the correlations by now, and wasn't getting much data, or missing that data this week. 
  • My sleep tracker. My bedtime is fairly regular, as is my wakeup time, so I didn't mind not seeing it spelled out. 
  • Carrying around a bunch of pens/markers/rulers/supplies. 

So, here's what I came up with, seen in action with my actual task list today:'s a rapid log. I've never felt the need to make a task list, or a rapid log of any kind, before, so this is a new experience. I also had to make a conscious effort to not freak out that:

  • there are so many smudges
  • the bullets aren't straight
  • my handwriting is all over the place

I did add a water tracker, and a coffee tracker. And then at some point today, it started thunder storming and I felt strongly that I should doodle that cloud in the corner, and then I added the temperature because why not? So it's not perfectly a rapid log, and I'm not implementing a future log at this time, because I mostly use my Google Cal to track future events and deadlines. 

But the beauty of the bullet journal is that I can go right back to what I was doing before, or to something completely different, on the next page. There is no pressure to keep up a specific system, only to make sure that the tool is still serving me. A total breakdown of the system gave me a good chance to reset, decide what was working and what wasn't, and then move forward. Needs change, and then the system does to accommodate them. I consciously made the choice to reframe my "fall off the wagon" as a chance to reflect and reassess, rather than using my empty spreads as a reason to ignore my bullet journal forever (my first impulse, to be honest.) If you're avoiding something that you do for self-care or for productivity, it might be worth going through some assessment/reflection work to see why you're not doing it, rather than just letting it drop and become another entry on the "abandoned habits" ledger. 

Best wishes for a productive week, but more than that, a restful weekend!