Setting Up My Fourth Bullet Journal

After trying out a traveler’s notebook for a year, I found that flipping back and forth between monthly and weekly/daily and collections journals wasn’t working for me; I also missed the catchall nature of having everything together in a single system.

So when I finally filled up the notebooks at the end of July, it was time for me to return to the bullet journal

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Getting Back Into Blogging Routines

Based on posts I’ve read and chats I’ve had with friends, clearly I’m not the only one suffering from a lack of motivation lately. And these past few weeks have been particularly rough — loneliness hit hard, teaming up with the stress of finishing up my semester online to make me an unproductive lump hiding from the world.

To be clear: it is absolutely okay to not be Doing All The Things (reading, blogging, whatever hobby you wanted to pick up). Life is hard right now.

However, I always feel better when I have some semblance of routines to fall back on and can check at least one or two things off my daily to-do list. So this is me, freshly freed from classes, holding myself accountable to get out of bed and Do A Thing a few times a week.

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I Broke Up with My Phone

As some of you might know, I’ve been doing monthly self-improvement challenges. In January it was daily journaling and a quick workout routine (both of which I abandoned pretty quickly after the month ended).

In February I decided to follow the 30-day plan in Catherine Price’s How to Break Up with Your Phone. Compared to a lot of people, I thought I was already reasonably good about not constantly reaching for and scrolling through my phone, but I knew there was room for improvement.

This was an … interesting experience, to say the least.

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Creating Morning & Night Routines

For as long as I can remember, I’ve preferred to have pre-scheduled days, weeks, and months. Not that I don’t like the occasional surprise, but this minimizes decision fatigue, plus I feel like it helps me better notice and appreciate the little things in life. (Like, stopping to smell the roses … though not literally, since I have a pollen allergy.)

I also started habit tracking not long after I started bullet journaling, which led to the realization that it’s so much easier to maintain habits if I build them into my routines. Not an original discovery, I know, but experiencing is believing.

To be honest, a large part of why I’m writing this post is for accountability: making sure that I sat down to create and commit to routines. So that’s enough procrastination, time to actually figure these out.

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My 2020 Planners

Whether it’s a fresh calendar year or academic year (or even semester), I love the organization and anticipation of new school supplies, new bullet journal spreads, new goals.

This year I actually haven’t made many big changes from my 2019 setups — there’s no need to fix what’s already working. But since I love reading about other people’s planning systems I figured I might as well share mine; hopefully some of you will find it interesting and maybe even helpful!

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Setting Up My First Traveler’s Notebook

When I started my very first bullet journal in December 2015, it seemed like the natural next step after five and a half years of preprinted school planners. (I got my first one in fourth grade, at nine years old.) Pen-and-paper planning definitely worked for me, but I had my own ideas for customized page layouts and lists. 

Three and a half years — and three filled notebooks — later, I’ve decided to switch it up yet again. My parents got me a lovely traveler’s notebook cover last Christmas; since I’d have to set up a new planning notebook / system anyway, and in September I start a new phase of my life (professional pharmacy classes), the timing seemed perfect.

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GYST Days

Even if you were productive every day of the week (kudos to those of you can manage it, I am not one of you), you’d probably still have tasks left over at the end of each day — whether because they take a lot of time, or so little time that you de-prioritize them, or you keep putting them off because you just don’t have the energy or want to do them, or you just forget about them in the course of a busy day. Or if you manage to check everything off the list, odds are you could use a break: some self-care, whatever form that takes for you.

So you set aside a period of time — it can be an hour every morning, every Sunday, the first weekend of each month, or on an as-needed basis … whatever works for you — and get all those things, and yourself, taken care of.

Get Your Shit Together (GYST) days are a concept introduced to me by Clo @ Book Dragons, but as far as I can tell the term was coined by YouTuber Kalyn Nicholson. No one’s perfect and things can slip through the cracks all too easily, so it’s really helpful to dedicate some time to check in with yourself. And hey, if you find your life is running smoothly, you’re not stressed out and want to keep the momentum going, you can always get ahead for next week or next month. Adulting never stops.

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