So You Want to Start a Bullet Journal…

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I get asked a lot about how to start a bullet journal.  People will say, ‘I want to start a bullet journal but:

  • I’m not creative
  • I can’t draw
  • I don’t have time to do all of the stuff you do in yours
  • Or (my personal favorite), If I spent the time drawing that every week, I wouldn’t have any time to do the things on my list!

My bullet journal is full of my drawings because that’s the way I want it, but that’s not what makes it a bullet journal.  Let’s talk about that…

What a bullet journal is and what it isn’t

First of all, I think it’s really important to understand what a bullet journal is and what it isn’t. As quoted from the official bullet journal site, a bullet journal “can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above.”

What caught my attention most about a bullet journal is that you create and use it organically, rather than having it all set up ahead of time.  You’re not faced with a year’s worth of pre-printed pages to fill; just a beautiful, empty notebook with clean, fresh possibilities every time you turn a page. {Other office/art supply junkies know what I’m talking about, right??}

I was a planner junkie and have used many, many different planning systems over the years, only to be frustrated by the limitations of someone else’s design that didn’t work for my needs. More often than not, days or weeks would go by with empty pages and then I would be frustrated again by not having elements that I wanted.

I’ve also tried different apps on my computer and phone, but there’s definitely something satisfying about holding a physical planner in your hands.

**Important Note**
If that’s NOT something important to you, or if your planning app/Google Calendar/iCal is working just fine for all of your needs, then I’m not going to try to convince you that this is something you need to be doing. This is about doing what works for you!

However, if you decide you want to try a bullet journal, here is my NUMBER 1 TIP:
Learn the BASICS of bullet journaling on the BulletJournal.com site.  Watch the video, read the blog.  Start there.  Don’t go to Pinterest yet, don’t get overwhelmed on Instagram.

Start at the source.

  • Learn what an index, future log, monthly and daily logs are and how to use them
  • Learn about tasks, signifiers and a key
  • Learn about migration

Download the free bullet journal reference guide from tinyrayofsunshine.com

Then, you’re ready to create your bullet journal.

What you HAVE TO HAVE to get started

Any notebook and pen will do.

You don’t have to start with a fancy notebook, any particular tools or decorative elements. Colored pens, stickers and washi tape aren’t required.

I liked the idea of a dotted grid page so my first bullet journal was a Moleskine like this:

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Now, I’m using a Leuchtturm1917 with dotted grid pages and I really do love it.  It think the quality of the book and pages are worth it and I will continue to use them for my bullet journals until I see something better come along.

My New Bujo + August Set Up

But really, ANY notebook will do.  It’s not the notebook itself that makes it a bullet journal.  You can buy a graph composition book like this almost anywhere that sells notebooks:

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My favorite pens are Pigma Microns.  I use the 02 nib size for most of my journaling and drawing, but also use the 01 and 005 for smaller details.

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But again, ANY pen will do.  I started with a Sharpie pen fine point (NOT the permanent marker kind, they will bleed through your page!!).  Find what works for you in your notebook.

That’s it.  Those are all of the tools you need to start bullet journaling. Start with the basics, find a notebook and pen that you like, use the reference guide to set it up and just start.

But what about the washi tape, you ask? What about the colored pens and pencils and stickers and everything else to make it all pretty?  Not important.  Honestly.

It’s about the bullet journal system and figuring out how you’re going to use it first.  THEN you can add the stuff to make it pretty.

I draw in my bullet journal because it makes me happy to draw.  Because I like lots of color.  And because, a lot of the time, I can’t find existing graphics (stickers, etc) to fit how I want it to look.  So I make it up.

I’ve also experimented on what kind of planning spread works for me. I don’t do dailies because I use a different bullet journal at work.

My personal bullet journal doesn’t need dailies, so I have found that a weekly to-do list works better for me. You may not have the same needs as I do, so you will need to experiment for yourself to see what works.

If you want color in yours, by all means, use the washi tape and stickers and whatever else you want to color it up.

If you don’t care about color in yours, then don’t do it.  But don’t think you can’t start a bullet journal just because you can’t draw or can’t spend a lot of time on it! That is completely contrary to how a bullet journal is designed to work.

I’ve created a Beginner’s Bullet Journaling Checklist for you to download with the steps that I’ve discussed in this post.  Hope it’s helpful for all of you newbies out there!

Happy Bullet Journaling!

PS–Here’s the first post I wrote when I first launched this blog with other starting tips.

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5 Tips for Starting a Bullet Journal

Crossing off an item on my Fall Bucket List!

Last week, I posted my Autumn 2016 Essentials & To Dos on Instagram.  As the title suggests, this included both things I have to have for fall, as well as things that I realistically wanted to accomplish.  Such as putting up my fall decor BEFORE Halloween instead after.  Yikes.

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So far, it’s at least given me the reminder to do something that I particularly love to do this time of year, knit.  Once the heat of summer backs off a bit, something makes me want to grab my needles and start knitting away.

This fall’s project is an oldie but a goodie: the Broad Street Mittens from Knitty.com.  I’ve knit them before, but with worsted weight and they came out too stiff and heavy.  This time, I found the prettiest, sock-weight Merino yarn and I’m so excited to see how they turn out!  (The label on mine says “Chili” but my colors seem quite different IRL than what they show, just FYI)

Here’s just the cuff so far, but I love the colors and the self-striping yarn!  I’ll post more as I go.

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Here’s to a happy {and productive} fall season!

Ideas for Self Care

Ideas for Self Care | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

I posted this spread on Instagram this morning and have had some requests for some closer shots to be able to read the lists, so here goes:

Ideas for Self Care | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

Ideas for Self Care | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

Ideas for Self Care | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

Ideas for Self Care | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

I found several lists of self care ideas and pulled out the ones that appealed the most to me.  I also liked dividing them up into the four different areas and I tried to leave a little room in each for new ideas I come across.

I’d love to hear the different ways you’ve found to nurture yourself when needed!  Please share in the comments.  🙂

 

My Morning Routine Spread Was Featured on NYMag.com! And I Rant…

I was featured in NYMag.com! | thebulletjournaladdict.com

On Tuesday, in a bullet journaling Facebook group, someone posted a link to this article on the NYMag.com website.  I immediately recognized the thumbnail photo as my morning routine spread, so I excitedly clicked on the link.

Reading through the article, she links to many sources, including http://www.bulletjournal.com and includes photos from other bullet journal Instagrammers, but I never find a link or credit for my IG photo.  So I left a note in the comments and a few hours later, she added a small link under the picture, so, yay, credit.

And then, this morning, to get the link, I went back and read the comments.  I know, I know, NEVER READ THE COMMENTS.  But I always do and I ALWAYS regret it (granted, there were only 9 comments so it didn’t take very long).

I feel like I have to keep defending the system AND my own bullet journal.

People.  (All seven of you that read this blog.)  Please listen.

What attracted me to bullet journaling was the simplicity.  All you need is a notebook and a pen. That’s it.  Everything else is extra.

Along with the simplicity was the flexibility.  If you don’t use it one day, you start up the next time you need it.  No wasted space.

If you’ve seen the (very shaky) video of the walk through of my first bullet journal, you’ll see the evolution of how I use it.  And it’s not pretty, believe me. It’s messy and it’s not always cute.  I made a lot of mistakes and turned a lot of pages and started over.

I started with the basics and, over time, figured out what worked for me.  And what works for me includes lots of color.

Like I mention in my post about my work bullet journal, I keep it very simple and plain at work.  I don’t have the time there for much else.

How I Keep a Bullet Journal at Work | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

I LOVE the minimalism of just the pen and paper.  Honestly, I start there every single time with my personal bullet journal too. But then I want to add a spot of color here and there and before too long, it’s like a My Little Pony vomited all over my pages. I can’t help it.  It’s me.  And I’m done apologizing for it.

I LOVE drawing in my personal bullet journal.  It makes me so happy and it’s time well spent for me.

But all of the drawings and the coloring isn’t what makes it a bullet journal.  It isn’t what a bullet journal HAS to be or SHOULD be.  You don’t have to be a proficient artist or a crafty scrapbooker and you don’t have to take a lot of time with it.

I think it’s the collision of the minimalist and the ultra crafter using the same system that causes this potential for conflict.  But really, there’s no need.  Neither person needs to feel intimidated by the other.  And neither person needs to criticize the other. It just shows how flexible of a system it really is.

Start with the basics and do with it what you will.  It’s that simple. The End.

 

My New Bujo + August Set Up

I’m still alive!  This blogging thing is a lot of work, especially when I have a full-time job too!  I’m going to re-evaluate what I can commit to consistently posting so I don’t get overwhelmed and end up posting nothing at all.

I AM excited though, because it’s August 1st and I get to start using my new Leuchtturm 1917 notebook.  I’ve been pretty happy with it so far!

The pages are a lot smoother so I do have to be a little more patient with waiting to erase my pencil marks.  The ink takes a little longer to dry so I have had a few issues with smudging.

Also, because the pages are smoother, my colored pencils go on a lot smoother.  It’s like drawing on silk! (Pretend that’s a thing).

I thought I’d go through how I’ve set up my bullet journal in this new notebook, using some of the lessons I learned with my last one.

I love the turquoise color, it coordinates nicely with a lot of my washi tape.  That I rarely use…until now.  😉

My New Bujo + August Set Up

Here’s my contact information in the opening spread.  I didn’t feel the need to do anything particularly fancy here.

My New Bujo + August Set Up | thebulletjournaladdict.com

My index. I don’t have everything from this post listed in there since I took the pictures over the space of two weekends.  Also, because I like the randomness of a bullet journal, the index is really important to me.  After the initial set up, I’ll throw in my newest collection on the very next page, so they end up spread throughout the whole book.  The index is vital in finding a particular collection again.

My New Bujo + August Set Up | thebulletjournaladdict.com

My personal mission statement.  I wanted to come up with something that meant more to me than a quote and something that encompassed my core values. So I came up with this.  (I love it!)

My New Bujo + August Set Up | thebulletjournaladdict.com

Future log for the next 12 months.  In my last bullet journal, I had a separate page for my year at a glance calendar, separate spreads for my future log and then another collection/spread for birthdays.  I didn’t have a ton of events in my future log anyway, so it just seemed to make more sense to put them all on the same page.  I’m really happy with how this turned out!  Note the washi down the side.  😉

My New Bujo + August Set Up | thebulletjournaladdict.comFullSizeRender 82

My monthly calendar for August.  I don’t work more than a month out at a time, anything beyond that will just go into my future log, like the traditional bullet journal system.  The time specific column is for appointments or other…time specific…events, and the all day column is for birthdays or holidays, that kind of thing.

My New Bujo + August Set Up | thebulletjournaladdict.com

Next is my blank August memories spread.

My New Bujo + August Set Up | thebulletjournaladdict.com

The next few pages are my monthly challenge spreads.

My New Bujo + August Set Up | thebulletjournaladdict.com

My New Bujo + August Set Up | thebulletjournaladdict.com

The artwork on my zentangle page is completely and shamelessly inspired/copied from this amazing artist here.

My New Bujo + August Set Up | thebulletjournaladdict.com

After the challenge spreads, I put in my first week of August.  I’m trying something different this week.  Because of the nature of a couple of the challenges (#rockyourhandwriting mostly), instead of doing a full weekly spread, perfectly spaced out ahead of time, I’m going to try dailies, putting them in with my challenges in as I go.  We’ll see how it works out…

My New Bujo + August Set Up | thebulletjournaladdict.com

As I mentioned above, I keep my collections random, so here is my first collection, a record of our hens & chicks (or pullets, now).  Yes, we have two hens without names.  Any Star Wars-themed women’s names suggestions? We did have a Maz Kanata, but “she” ended up being a “he” and we had to re-home him.

My New Bujo + August Set Up | thebulletjournaladdict.com

Next, I have my meal master list, inspired by both Kim of Tiny Ray of Sunshine and Christina.  I’ll post more about this spread after I fill it in more, but I’m super excited to try this out.  I’m ALWAYS trying to come up with meal ideas, so having a simple list should work out well for me to work off of.

My New Bujo + August Set Up | thebulletjournaladdict.com

That’s it so far.  I am still migrating a few things over and finishing up a couple of other collections that I will share in future posts but I’m really excited to start using this new notebook!

Do you have your August all set up?  🙂

Technique Tuesday–Colored Pencil Doodling Tutorial

The Bullet Journal Addict Technique Tuesday | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Today I’ve posted a YouTube video of how I color in the artwork in my bullet journal here on my channel.  If you haven’t seen the short, time-lapse video I posted on Instagram, you can watch it here.

Creating these videos is definitely a learning process so bear with me as I learn the ins and outs of making them!  I realized after I finished all the filming that there were a few things I left out so I wanted to cover some of those things here.

Ann Kullberg’s site can be found here. My favorite of her books, Colored Pencil Portraits Step by Step, pictured below, can be found here.

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To pencil in my drawings, I always use a mechanical pencil, since that guarantees a sharp pencil tip.  Mine is just an ordinary .07 mm tip pencil that I got at the grocery store, nothing fancy there.

The kneaded eraser is just like the one below and and you can buy them here or at most hobby and art stores.

Technique Tuesday | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

The pencils I’m currently using are just cheap Crayola colored pencils.  I use Prismacolors in my more serious artwork but I’ve been very happy with toting these around for use in my bullet journal.

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The electric pencil sharpener I’m currently using is similar to the one below:

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If there is anything else that I’ve left out, please let me know and if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments!

Happy coloring!

The Great Debate

Leuchtturm vs Moleskine--The Big Debate | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

Leuchtturm vs. Moleskine.

Yes, I’m aware that, in the grand scheme of things, with all of the sadness and violence in the world today, this is pretty small problem in comparison, so please know that I am giving it its proper context. While this isn’t something that’s keeping me up at night, I would definitely value your feedback.

And this is all assuming that I can even get my hands on the color that I want (which is still up for debate itself!).  Enough disclaimers?  Ok, let’s move on…

I’ve done my own research, read the articles, watched the videos, so I already know most of the pros and cons.  As of today, I have 26 pages left in my Moleskine, so it’s not too big of a rush but I want to try to make the best decision I can.

I LOVE the softcover of my Moleskine.  It makes me happy.  The hard cover of the Leuchtturm would be something I’d need to get used to.

The elastic band that keeps my notebook closed looks really sad about now when it’s not wrapped around my book.  And it’s definitely losing elasticity when it is on, but just slightly.  How does the Leuchtturm elastic hold up?

I don’t mind the one bookmark, I don’t really use it a ton to keep my place, it’s pretty obvious where I am in my book.

I’m about 80% happy with the page quality of my Moleskine. I don’t mind the color, the pages are a little rough, but not bad, and the ghosting doesn’t bother me TOO much but it would be nice to cut down on that.

I like the idea of a built-in index and page numbering, since I forget to number my pages every once in a while and have to go back and fill them in, but, again, not a big deal to me.

Moleskines are slightly easier to get a hold of, my local art store carries them, as does Barnes & Noble, so if I can’t find the Leuchtturm I want in stock, I may have to just fall back on using another one.

My main concern is smudging.  It happens to me very rarely with my Moleskine and I’ve heard that with the smoother pages of the Leuchtturm, it’s more of an issue.  I use Pigma Micron pens mostly and am happy with those.  Has anyone had any consistent issues with smudging in their Leuchtturm?

Is there anything that I’ve missed that I need to consider??

I know that the art store I go to carries the Rhodia brand also.  I’m not a fan of orange but I might use a black-covered one if I loved it enough.  Is smudging an issue with that one too?

Again, I get that this is a pretty first world problem, but maybe planner peace is the beginning to world peace?

Yeah, that was a stretch. 😉

Principles of The Artist’s Way

Principles of The Artist's Way | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

I was first introduced to The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron by my mom 15+ years ago and it changed my life in many ways.  This may sound a little dramatic but it’s true.

Principles of The Artist's Way | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

I’ve found that this is a book that people either really love or really hate, with very few in between. It IS a book on spirituality, so if that’s not your thing, you may not like it.  And many religious (and very non-religious) people think it’s just new age malarky (pretty sure those are the exact words). But if you’re interested on exploring how to tap into your creative self, I suggest you give it a try. I think it is written ambiguously enough that it could fit into almost any personal belief system.

One more side note.  I think the title itself is a little deceptive, only because, when someone says “artist,” immediately many people think painter or sculptor or maybe a writer. Her basic premise is that everyone is creative at their very core.  So I really do think that many of the ideas in this book is applicable to everyone from architect to accountant. Your mileage may vary.

There are 12 principles of The Artist’s Way.  I have them written in my bullet journal in a simple list, but I wanted to create a prettier presentation, so I’m attempting to channel @decadethirty and put each of the principles into something much nicer to look at (although, I’m much messier than she is, mine are more like scribbles rather than little pieces of art!).

Anyway, here is the first principle:

Principles of The Artist's Way | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

Do you have any thoughts about this principle? I’ve been thinking about this recently but I don’t have anything really profound to share at the moment.

I will continue to draw out the other 11 principles throughout the coming weeks.

Beyond these principles, and, honestly, what I feel to be the most important part of The Artist’s Way are the following two practices, and I do believe these can be life changing.

Morning pages
The first practice is doing morning pages, every day, first thing in the morning.  This consists of writing out, by hand, 3 pages worth of, well, anything that comes to mind.

This isn’t great literature, this isn’t even journaling.  It’s a brain dump of anything that comes out of your head and onto your paper.  It’s not for anyone else to read and it may not be for you to ever read again.  It’s just a general stream of consciousness coming out of you.  It may bring absolutely nothing of consequence or it may bring up emotions to the surface that are difficult to deal with, but the point is that you’re getting it out of your mind.

I kept morning pages in a cheap composition notebook consistently for about a year, filling 2 1/2 of those notebooks.  I think the power is that it enables you to empty your mind of stuff you don’t need to be there, and leaves room for other, more productive thoughts. Any time I feel creatively blocked, I return to doing morning pages again.

**I read recently that Rivers Cuomo, of the band Weezer, writes morning pages.

This is definitely NOT something I would recommend doing in your bullet journal, at least not the full 3 pages worth every morning, since it would take up too much space.  Like I said, I used cheap, comp books when I did it and I don’t think I’ve read them since.

Artist Dates
The second practice is taking yourself on an artist date. This isn’t anything really elaborate, in fact, the simpler, the better. I believe she considers it to basically be tapping into your inner child, but it doesn’t have to be silly either.  Unless, that’s something YOU want to do.

An artist date could be walking through an antique store, just window shopping.  Or buying a brand new coloring book and a box of crayons and sitting in a park, coloring. It’s something that feeds your creative soul in a very simple way.

I stole this list from this blog, and there are 81 more ideas there for what you can do on an artist date:

  1. Visit an artist’s supply shop.
  2. Spend some time outdoors with your journal, sketchbook, craft supplies, etc.
  3. Go for a walk, and take your camera with you to document the experience.
  4. Stop by the library, and check out some CDs.
  5. Set a timer, and spend an hour working on something you’ve been putting off.
  6. Create an artist’s workspace in your home.
  7. See an Oscar-nominated movie or a foreign film.
  8. If you don’t have an artist’s blog, start one.
  9. Visit a “creative” shop that has nothing to do with what you actually do–an art supply store, a fabric shop, a music store.
  10. Grab a stack of magazines, and clip whatever looks interesting or cool to create your own inspiration board.
  11. Support the local arts scene. Go to a local festival, music event, art show, play, museum exhibit, etc.
  12. Plant something. Start your own herb garden. Butterfly garden. Plant a tomato or some bulbs. Try a “guerilla garden,” and scatter seeds randomly somewhere to see what grows.
  13. Spend an hour going through your books. Pick ten to read or re-read and ten to donate to charity.
  14. Go to a thrift store. Give yourself $5 to spend and find something really great that you can do something creative with.
  15. Take a walk on a nature trail. Take your camera.
  16. Write a letter – longhand, on pretty paper – to an old friend.
  17. Give yourself a beauty treatment – a cuticle treatment, a foot soak, exfoliation, hot oil treat, etc.
  18. Go sit at the pond and play in your sketchbook.
  19. Visit all of your childhood playhouse and fort sites.
  20. Sit in the driveway and make designs with pretty rocks. Sing campfire songs.

I think you could adapt many of these ideas to make them bullet journal related–Go to a park and creating mandala or zentangle pages.  Create a special space for you to work on your journal.  Buy one new pen that you’ve been wanting to write with.  There are many ways to incorporate these suggestions with your bullet journal.

Have any of you tried morning pages?  What was your result?  How about artist dates?  Do you have any suggestions that you’ve tried that aren’t listed?

 

Technique Tuesday–Basic Color Theory

Technique Tuesday--Basic Color Theory | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

Today I want to delve a little into color theory and why it’s important to know.  And if this subject seems a little boring and dry, hopefully you’ll quickly see how this applies in most kind of artwork.

{If you still need convincing, and haven’t seen it yet, check out my time-lapse video on YouTube where I created this color wheel using just three primary colored pencils, red, yellow and blue. That’s excitement, right there, folks.}

I had no idea this was such a controversial topic.  I once had a science teacher argue with me, saying that primary colors consisted of red, yellow and green. I soon realized that we were talking about two very different things, he about science and biology, and I about the nature of pigment.  Besides, any school kid can tell you that blue+yellow=green, meaning green is a secondary color, not primary, so art>science.

Take THAT Science.  😉

So, why is this important to know when you’re using colored pencils?  If you think about the colors are next to each other on the color wheel, called analogous colors, you’ll know which colors blend the nicest, like the orange and magenta in the word “TECHNIQUE:”

TT_June21_10

Technique Tuesday--Basic Color Theory | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

Analogous colors

Also, if you watch the Instagram video again, you can see that I used the primary colors to darken the secondary colors.  So, for example, when you’re adding shading to purple, instead of layering more of the same color, try using blue to create a richer shade of purple.  Or adding a soft layer of red to add shading to orange.

Colors opposite each other on the color wheel are called complimentary colors.  They usually don’t work well blended together, but create beautiful contrast in color schemes.

Technique Tuesday--Basic Color Theory | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

Complimentary colors

Sports teams will often use complimentary colors in their uniforms to show strength and power, although some teams do use analogous colors in theirs for a much different effect (Go Seahawks!).

seahawks

You can also create color schemes using two to three colors in a triad:

Technique Tuesday--Basic Color Theory | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

Technique Tuesday--Basic Color Theory | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

Most people don’t actual think about color theory when they’re using it, they just know it feels right.  Do you think about the colors you’re using before you put them on paper?  How do you use colors in your bullet journal?

Next week, I’ll go through a design from start to finish, showing a few of the techniques I’ve already mentioned.  🙂

Here’s a link to the Instagram video in case you missed it above.

Technique Tuesday--Basic Color Theory | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

 

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I Have a YouTube channel!

I have a YouTube Channel! | www.thebulletjournaladdict.com

Ok, to be honest, even though it’s technically called a channel, I only have one video on it so far, and it’s kind of awkward and shaky.  But, even though I was totally uncomfortable with the idea of making videos, I did one anyway, so go easy on me!  😉

I go through my whole bullet journal, almost page by page, including the boring, messy and mistake pages.  It’s kind of interesting to see the evolution of how I use my bullet journal and how it doesn’t have to be perfect to make you happy!

I can’t post videos directly on my blog yet, but you can check it out here:  https://youtu.be/Gf3GUtQNl-A