Bullet Journalling, Healthy Habits, Mental Health, self-care, setting priorities

The Benefits of Unplanning

tempclosespirmaintNo, Renaissance Magpie isn’t closing, temporarily or otherwise, but I felt that this image spoke directly to what I did last week for myself.  It dawned on me that those of us preaching the good word of the Bullet Journal, productivity, mindfulness, and the benefits of forming and maintaining healthy habits never address the one true downside that all of this living better brings:  Spiritual Burnout.

Most of us have full and busy lives.  We blog, we write, we create, we work, we parent, and we try to build our own personal lives and realise our dreams.  We preach, we sell, we tell, we share…and inevitably, we crash and burn ourselves.

As I’d written in my previous post, the spring months have not been all that kind to me in terms of mental well-being.  I’ve had to take some serious steps back and re-assess my methods of communication and the energy I was allowing in, as well as sending out into the world.  I’d been scattered, moody, argumentative, and generally down.  Although I was coming around and out of that place by the end of May, I found that my bullet journal, and my daily routine, had become a chore.  A drudgery.  It was not (sorry, Marie Kondo!) sparking joy.  So, on Memorial Day weekend here in the US, I made a conscientious choice.  I put it all down.  I took my Fitbit off.  I set aside my bullet journal for the rest of May and instead, I set up for June in my new Citrus Bindery journal (another topic for another post that I can’t wait to share with you!).  I didn’t do dailies.  I didn’t track anything.  And most importantly, I didn’t beat myself up if I didn’t adhere to my morning or nightly routines.

In fact, the only thing I kept was my morning stretching followed by my morning meditation because those two “habits” really did bring me joy.

I set a “re-opening” date of 1 June and here’s how I feel:  Amazing.  Taking the time off from my own, self-imposed obligations, was like a mini-vacation without the stress of packing or travel.  I didn’t worry about anything and when I returned to my desk this past Saturday to begin anew, I felt completely refreshed and excited to get back into my routine.

I referred to this period as my “Un-planning Week”, but it occurred to me that this is a topic we see a lot of, especially in bullet journaling communities.  Posts from people who managed to skip a whole month, or who put their journals down one day and now don’t know how or where to begin again, even though they want to.

It’s like this:  Turn the page.  If you really feel that your routine isn’t cutting it, isn’t bringing you happiness, isn’t helping you be a better or more productive person, take that spiritual time out.  Close down for a week or a month or more if you need to.  But if you’re serious about picking up again (and I hope you are!), set a date to re-open. 

One thing I will caution against – if you’re working on forming habits and you’re still in the early stages where you really, really need to track them or you just won’t do them, it might not be the best idea to take a time out.  I still track some habits that are pretty well ingrained, but I knew that because they were pretty well ingrained, missing a few days or a week wasn’t going to set me back to square one – and it didn’t.  I track them because I know myself.  It’s OK for me to take a few days off here or there, but if I don’t keep myself accountable, well, no one else will.  If I was trying to form (or break) a new (or old, bad) habit, I likely wouldn’t have felt as good about taking this spiritual time out last week.  So do consider that when you’re assessing your state of spiritual or mental/emotional readiness or burn-out!

Most importantly though, be good to yourself.  When self-imposed tasks and obligations become a chore, it’s time to un-plan.  Set it down, walk away, take a deep breath, and re-center.  I guarantee that you’ll come back healthier, happier, and more determined to succeed than ever before!

Have you experienced this spiritual burn-out?  What did you do to get back on track?  We’d love to hear your words of wisdom, so feel free to comment below!

Disclaimer:  I receive NOTHING if you click on any of the links in this post.  They are shared purely to show you what I use and to give you a reference point for purchase.  I am not paid or sponsored by any entity or corporation.
Bullet Journalling, setting priorities, time management

Prioritizing You.


In my last post, I answered what I considered to be the Top 10 myths and questions regarding bullet journaling, as evidenced by the numerous posts on the topics across various social media groups.  I did, however, leave out what is perhaps the biggest statement that we see several times a day, and that is:  I want to start bullet journaling but I don’t have the time.  On a similar note, it’s not uncommon to see someone post something like, I just don’t have the time to keep up with my bullet journaling!

Invariably, this all comes down to how we prioritize our time and what we expect from a bullet journal.  So let’s begin with our expectations of a bullet journal.  In it’s purest form, Ryder Carroll developed the system to be a time *saver*.  Rapid logging and migration was never meant to take hours.  Rather, it was meant to be exactly as it’s name implies:  Rapid.  Of course, as we all know, that system gained traction and speed and grew into something Ryder certainly never expected, which is a nearly cult-like movement in journaling.  With it’s growth came change, and the system quickly evolved into artistic and instagrammable planning loosely based on rapid logging.

It seems, however, that this evolution is creating more stress for many, stress which the system was designed to alleviate.  So when you find yourself overwhelmed and out of time for your bullet journal, try asking yourself why you’re really using it.  Are you using it to be part of that movement?  As an art journal?  As social media fodder to promote your pages? Or are you using it as it was intended – to help you better manage and organize your time?

From my personal perspective, it *can* be time consuming.  The longer I use this system, Continue reading “Prioritizing You.”

Bullet Journal 101, Bullet Journal FAQs, Bullet Journalling

Bullet Journaling 101: Top 10 Myths and Frequently Asked Questions

20190330_1455367782802058092238632.jpgBack in 2017, I talked here about why bullet journal “hacks” weren’t really a thing, but I’m a member of a few different bullet journaling and planner groups on social media, and as with any large group, each day it seems that new members ask questions that have been answered time and again, I thought I’d flesh out that concept a little more for you today.  I’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions and Stated Myths About Bullet Journaling for this week’s post.  So let’s get right to it, shall we?

1.  I really want to start bullet journaling, but I’m not artistic at all so I’ll just enjoy everyone else’s posts. – MYTH! Nowhere in the concept of bullet journaling does it state that this must be an artistic endeavour.  We couldn’t possibly pinpoint when bullet journaling turned from Ryder Carroll’s concept being introduced to the super artistic spreads appearing on Pinterest or Instagram, but the truth is that you don’t need to be an artist to bullet journal.  The system is about optimizing productivity, not creating art.  With that said, if you really want to add artistic flair to your layouts, try using stamps and stencils rather than free-drawing or doodling.  These can lend that creative look you want without you getting frustrated over your inability to draw or paint.  Remember, there is no “wrong” way to bullet journal except for the way that doesn’t work for you.

2.  So, I got a bunch of washi tape and stickers, but I don’t know how to use them. Any ideas?  Washi and stickers can be as creative or functional as you want them to be.  Some people edge their journal pages with washi which helps them better find months or important spreads without flipping pages.  Others use washi and stickers as space fillers or decorative accents on pages.  Washi especially really is versatile and there are thousands of posts, pins, and images out there that show you the best or most creative ways to use it in your journal, on stationery, and around your home!  Do a little research and I know you’ll find the inspiration you need.

3.  I’m really poor/broke and can’t afford to bullet journal, even though I really want to. – MYTH! Now granted, I’m not going to say that anyone who is poor can afford a single item beyond the absolute necessities.  I never want to assume privilege that way.  BUT, if you can afford two dollars, you can head to the dollar store to buy a notebook and a pen and begin your own bullet journaling journey!  The idea that only those who afford expensive notebooks, pens, and markers are “real” bullet journallers whilst the rest are left out is absolute rubbish and should end here and now.

4.  My handwriting sucks, so I can’t bullet journal. – MYTH! I have friends who give doctors a run for their money when it comes to illegible handwriting.  I have friends who have legible, but not beautiful handwriting.  Even my own writing isn’t all that great, and I can’t do brush lettering to save my life.  But these things haven’t stopped any of us from adopting the system and making it our own!  If you can read your own writing, you can bullet journal, period, full-stop.

5.  I keep seeing everyone talking about GSM and I don’t know what that means! GSM stands for Grams Per Square Meter, and it refers to paper weight and quality.  The higher the GSM, the heavier the paper.

6.  Can you recommend a pen that doesn’t bleed/ghost so much? Ah, well, the thing is, it’s usually not the pen but the paper that is the real culprit here, which brings us back to the previous question about GSM.  The heavier the paper, the less likely it is that your pen will bleed or ghost.  Unfortunately, a higher GSM usually translates to a higher cost journal.  In the case of stationery and journals, you really do get what you pay for in this case.  Well, 99.99% of the time.  If you’re using a cheaper journal or notebook, your best bet is probably going to be to use a common ball point pen.  Most artist pens such as Faber Castell PITT or Pigma Micron use archival ink and, as with most felt nibbed pens in general, will bleed right through thinner papers.

7.  I want to use watercolour in my journal, but whenever I do, it soaks right through or the page crumples. What can I do to prevent this?  Once again, it’s all about the GSM and paper quality.  Scribbles That Matter recently changed their paper to cater to those who wanted to use watercolour or other water based artistic mediums in their journals.  Unfortunately, this has not translated well for many users, as the coating on the paper is waxy and causes ink smears fairly consistently.  But!  It definitely takes watercolours quite well.  The bottom line is this:  the thinner the paper, the lower the GSM, the more likely it is that your journal pages will not hold up well to watercolours or water based mediums.  If you’re really set on using them without buying a more expensive journal, you can try to glue two pages together to create a thicker base, or use gesso to stiffen the page and prevent bleed through.

8.  Why do you use habit trackers? What should I track?  This one’s easy as we’ve covered that specific topic here before!  Rather than delving into it again, I recommend you click the link and read the post.

9.  I’ve made a mistake on my page and I just want to throw the whole journal away and start over again. What should I do?  Turn. The. Page. And. Start. Again.  Well, there are loads of other options.  You could tear the page out but…that seems almost as excessive as tossing a whole book over a mistake.  You could put a sticker or paste an image that has meaning to you over the mistake or whole page, and start fresh on the next one.  Or, you could simply turn the page.  I get the urge to chuck the whole thing and start fresh.  Really, I do.  I’m a perfectionist at heart, but one of the things bullet journaling has taught me is to let go of the little mistakes, sigh, and turn the page on the bigger ones.  Mistakes are part of life and none of us are perfect.  I think one of the reasons that imperfections or mistakes bother us so much is that, deep down, those are the things that remind us of our own flaws.  Embrace them.  Learn from them.  But don’t bin 20+ dollars worth of journal over a one page mistake!

10.  You guys! I just saw [insert brand/journal of choice here] and I really want to get this but I’m only halfway through my current BuJo.  What should I do?  Similarly, there is also, You guys!  I was just gifted my dream journal but I’m only halfway [or less] through my current one.  What should I do?  Everyone may have different thoughts on this one, and I have to admit that there was a time when I’d just toss whole journals because I’d neglected them for too long or found a better, shinier one.  Granted, these weren’t bullet journals but regular, diary type journals.  Nevertheless, the concept was pretty much the same.

When I started bullet journaling, I ordered the wrong journal!  It was a grid, not dot grid, LT 1917.  I hated the grid, but couldn’t afford a replacement for it for a little while, so I made myself start with what I had.  I did order the correct journals less than halfway through my first, and I wanted desperately to just chuck the graph grid notebook and start again, but I realised that this was a pattern of mine and one I didn’t want to continue.  So my answer is, finish what you’ve started.  Exercise restraint, and the reward is all the sweeter when you finally get there.  Not only is this less wasteful, it teaches us to rein in our impulsivity and instant gratification needs – lessons that we could all use, especially on this day and age of instant gratification and bouncing like squirrels on drugs from one shiny to the next.

So there you have it.  The top most frequently asked questions and stated myths answered and debunked.  I’ll open up the comments section to more Q&A if you’re so inclined.  Feel free to ask away, or let us know if I missed something!  And if you’re really new to bullet journaling, I recommend you do a search for “Bullet Journal 101” on YouTube (click the link to bring you to a list of BuJo 101 videos on YouTube!).  There are loads of great tutorials out there just waiting to help you enter the world of bullet journaling!

Disclaimer:  I receive NOTHING if you click on any of the links in this post.  They are shared purely to show you what I use and to give you a reference point for purchase.  I am not paid or sponsored by any entity or corporation.
Bullet Journalling, Layout

Experimenting With Layout

Disclaimer:  I receive NOTHING if you click on any of the links in this post.  They are shared purely to show you what I use and to give you a reference point for purchase.  I am not paid or sponsored by any entity or corporation.

Last week, I jumped right in after a long hiatus with a review of the Scribbles That Matter notebooks, noting (hah!) that I’d given up my Leuchtturm 1917 official Bullet Journal (A5) in favour of the STM B5 notebook (which appears to have been discontinued as it’s no longer listed on their website!).  That was a huge leap, as I’m sure you can imagine, but in keeping with the beauty of the Bullet Journal system as it was intended, I needed to do what was going to work for me, and what worked at the beginning of the year no longer served me.

I had not, however, worked with a journal so large before.  I’d always enjoyed the A5 size, feeling that it was both easily transportable and had, at the time anyway, sufficient space for all of my needs.  What really motivated me though was seeing a picture of a portrait oriented habit and mood tracker, one I desperately wanted to emulate.  From there, it was only a quick jump to deciding on having a page a day layout as opposed to combining days on one page as I’d been doing.  I wanted to be able to make notes, have a gratitude log for each day, a daily tracker for each day, and a place to log my daily oracle card draws on, yes, each day.  As you can imagine, this took some wicked experimentation!  The Habit Tracker, however, was easy, as you can see here:


I really view this first STM as my experimental bullet journal.  I had loads of ideas for it, especially dedicating the first half of the book as a Book of Days quick reference style thing.  I never did get around to filling those sections in and quickly realised that if I did so and kept that format, I’d be migrating just…so much stuff.  And it would be just…so much work.  Besides that, I didn’t miss it!  That tells me I likely would have barely used it and essentially, I would have ended up doing all of that work for naught.

That said, the majority of my experimentation was with my daily layout.  First, I tried a vertical time bar with notes about appointments and dedicated time periods – a time line more than a time bar.  I sectioned the pages off with my tasks and appointments at the top, my daily card notes, then my daily gratitude log.  I even tried to add a journaling box, and played with my symbols a bit as well.

That lasted about half a month, but as I looked back over all of the blank “Journaling” boxes, I realised I was really just wasting space.  I also wanted to re-introduce my “Daily Do’s” back into my bullet journal so I could move some of the repetitive, daily tasks I tracked to that – and have better accountability as to whether or not I was doing right by myself.  I decided to give up on the timeline, go back to my normal time bar at the top, and take the space to the left of the page for a Daily Column instead.


I also entered into November deciding to give up a weekly layout.  I tried that for an entire month and decided that while it was nice in theory, I really needed space where I could add tasks that needed to be done that week, but not necessarily today.  So in December, I played around with some different weekly ideas until I settled on a one-page layout that seemed to serve me well…but I can tell you that I know for sure it’s going to change again in January! (More on that in a minute).


I also elected to move my gratitude log back to my monthly spread in December instead of tracking it each day in my daily spread.  In it’s place, I put in a self-care tracker similar to my Daily column.  I got the tracker from The Witch of Lupine Hollow’s self-care journaling sheet – but couldn’t fit everything I wanted to from that sheet into my daily, so I elected to just use the daily self-care checklist for December.  I already know that I’m going to change that to a monthly tracker in January, and possibly move back to a 2-page weekly spread since I’ll have more pages to work with given that I didn’t take up the first 29 with wasted space.


I added a daily tides and sunrise/set bar to my dailies for December too, and I think that I’ve finally settled on a layout that will work for a while.

I think I’m settled with experimenting for the month of December and have a good idea of how I’ll be moving forward in my new STM to ring in 2019.

All that said, what happened to my Traveler’s Notebook?  Wellll, that’s going to have a new life in 2019, but you’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to find out how!

Do you like experimenting with your layouts or do you prefer to keep it simple and standard?  Let us know in the comments – and I’ll see you next week when we’re talking about migrating journals for the new year!

Bullet Journal Migration, Bullet Journalling

Migrating to a New Bullet Journal

Hey everyone!  I’m back, and this time we’re going to talk about Bullet Journal migration!  I know, I probably should have done this before I did the July Plan With Me post last week, but hey – it’s fun to mix it up a bit, right?

Migrating to a new Bullet Journal always leaves me with a sense of accomplishment.  As someone who never totally filled up the more traditional planners or even journals, I’m always a little thrilled to see that I’ve managed to complete another Bullet Journal with only a few blank pages (usually) toward the end.  For many though, I know the process of migration can be daunting, especially when you have a lot of collections that you want to move to your new journal.  It’s partially this reason that prompted me to move to a Traveler’s Notebook system as I talked about in this post not long ago.  Using the inserts for long term collections (e.g., my Year in Pixels habit tracking, colour key, etc.) means less to migrate when I start a new journal.  Nevertheless, I do have some things that I bring with me into each new journal, so read on to see how I migrated into my new Bullet Journal in June of this year! Continue reading “Migrating to a New Bullet Journal”

Bullet Journalling, plan with me

Plan With Me – July

Hey everyone!  Wow.  I can’t believe that June is almost over already!  I know that I’d promised a June Plan With Me post, as well as a journaling challenge, but once again, life reared it’s head and conspired against my productivity.  This time, however, it was for a positive thing!  We spent every bit of our free time moving my S/O out of his house in June, and into mine.  But it’s not over yet.  We’re moving again at the end of August, this time, to what will be to our house, which is so exciting!  What’s not so exciting is the packing and actually moving piece.  Because of this, I’m refraining from any in-depth snail mail and art swapping until at least mid-September, and I won’t have a lot of time to spend here over the summer either.

Nevertheless, we shall persevere and I will definitely be back to weekly posting once we’re settled in to our new place.  I felt bad that I didn’t get the June Plan With Me Posted though, so I wanted to ensure that you got a July Plan With Me!  Read on to see what I’ve done – and what mistakes I made this month! Continue reading “Plan With Me – July”

Bullet Journalling

Bullet Journal Weekly and Daily Layouts

Last week, I shared my Traveler’s Notebook with you, and how I incorporate my Bullet Journal into that system.  As promised, this week I’m going to share my weekly and daily spreads!  Of course, I actually changed my weekly spread layout for this week, so I have two different layouts to share.  That’s the beauty of this system though – when you get tired of one layout, or find that it no longer serves you, you can change it up the next day or the next week!  So let’s dive right in, shall we?

Continue reading “Bullet Journal Weekly and Daily Layouts”

Bullet Journalling, Traveler's Notebooks

Using a Traveler’s Notebook with Bullet Journal

Hey everyone! I mentioned in my my last post that I had moved my Bullet Journal to a Traveler’s Notebook (TN) system and promised I’d share more with you, so here it is.  Let’s talk about the TN and Bullet Journal hybrid – a best of both worlds!

I have to admit, I was hesitant about this whole idea at first.  It seemed that using a TN and the associated inserts with the Bullet Journal spat in the very face of the Bullet Journal concept which was to streamline and simplify your planning (I know, I know…hyperbole much? 😀 ) but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this could actually work without taking away from bullet journaling!

For one thing, for busy people, migrating “permanent” spreads into a new bullet journal is daunting.  I was, well, am, no exception to that rule, and I realized that some of these spreads that I consider permanent or at least long-term (like my annual goals and bucket lists) might be better off in a TN insert.  So, I bit the bullet (er…sorry…) and bought a TN from Elrohir Leather as a Yule gift to myself.

Continue reading “Using a Traveler’s Notebook with Bullet Journal”

Bullet Journalling

Plan with Me – May 2018 Bullet Journal Walkthrough

I can’t believe that it’s May already! This month snuck up on me and I almost, almost wasn’t prepared. I found myself cramming to get May in my Bullet Journal set up last week and somehow…I made it! I thought that it would be nice to share my May layout with all of you before it got too cluttered with, well, being filled in!

As you can see, I have moved to a Traveler’s Notebook. This beauty from Elrohir Leather was my Yule gift to myself and no, it’s not three dimensional! One of my dear friends got me a matching pocket sized journal for my birthday.

Continue reading “Plan with Me – May 2018 Bullet Journal Walkthrough”