That Time I Tried to BuJo

Do you BuJo?

Do you know what BuJo is?

It’s shorthand for bullet journaling, a creative, and personal way to chronicle goals, make plans, keep track of inspirational quotes and all manner of either mental glitter.

bullet journal, bujo, to-do list, planner, diary, crafty, organization

Buzzfeed, Pinterest, and Instagram have been swollen with tips, tricks, and ideas on how to get your BuJo on. YouTube has countless videos that turn dotted blank pages into drool inducing organizational layout.

Around the end of November, early December, I began to see more and more articles about bullet journaling. With the impending start to the New Year, bloggers and Pinners were touting how BuJo was the way to go for 2017. Track you fitness goals! Track your savings goals! Track yourself on how well you track your tracking! There were links to templates and guides. There were step by step tutorials on how to write in calligraphy using only a fine tip pen and some matches. No, not really with the matches.

When I wrote about making plans for 2017 while it was 2016, BuJo was on my list (gah, every time I write that (BuJo), I think this is exactly how I feel when I hear people say artisanal and bromance and moist).

But a place where to-do lists, a diary, and a planner all come together using wash tape, markers, and doodles?! Um, yes! Paper! Pens! Organization! Take my money!!

I order this gorgeous moleskin notebook and some fancy micro-line pens. Between December 20th and January 1st, I went all in getting my BuJo plan sketched out and BuJo templates ready.

salt bae, fancy, bujo, pinterest

Me adding flair to my BuJo pages.

You can make your BuJo as plain or as intricate as you like. Most articles say that a true BuJo has an index, a key, color coding, and calendar. You’re supposed to number all of your pages, set sections for future logs, monthly goals, yearly goals, and so forth. The more I read, the more inundated with ideas I became. I knew that I’d sink under the weight of all the possibilities, so I scaled back considerably.

On a separate piece of paper, I outlined the areas I wanted to focus on and tried my hand at drawing banners, arrows, and fonts.

My first task was to spend the first three weeks of January keeping a food and fitness tracker. I had a place to put in what the one thing I would do for the day would be. I had a spot for doodles, quotes, and other motivational tidbits. The backside of each page would be a place for me to write down my thoughts, ideas, and to do list tasks as they came to me. I called this page “Brain Dump”.


Isn’t it beautiful?

After I filled up the three weeks worth of pages, I set up some pages for goals related to family, marriage, self, and work. I had page dedicated to places I’ve been and places I’d like to go. I had a page for quotes. There was another for restaurants I’d like to try. All of the pages were decorated, doodled on, and thick with wash tape. Oh yeah, I was doing the most, per usual.

Several times, the Hubs would join me in the dining room (yes, I’m still working there) to knock out some paperwork. “That looks like a lot of work,” he’d comment, shaking his head, as I capped and uncapped pens, drew straight lines. As I furiously scribbled, I assured him that it was actually kind of fun. I love paper and getting crafty. I got shivers of satisfaction with each completed page, every straight line, and every color coded check mark. BuJo was tapping into all facets of my creative side.

What I failed to realize (or maybe just skipped over this part in all of my reading and scrolling) is that BuJo is time-consuming. Like, Facebook and Instagram time consuming. Like when you sit down and the sun is high and you look up and it’s pitch black outside. I would crack open my book, slip out my cool pens, and the next thing I know, the kids are holding out their cupped palms, imploring me to make them some food, Dickensian style. Dust was piling up like snow drifts on all available surfaces. Laundry lay in various stages of completion in buckets at the top and bottom of the stairs. I had to figure out how to add this newest spinning plate to the full service of dishes, cups, and what not that were already whirling like dervishes overhead.

Here’s what I learned: I couldn’t add another thing without putting something else down, intentionally or otherwise. When I gave BuJo 100%, the blogging fell off. That was no bueno, so I picked up the blogging, but the photography got pushed down. Can’t do that. My response time to emails and texts plummeted as I drew straight lines and bubbled in circles to denote how much water I had consumed. Finally, one Sunday when the Hubs ferried the girls hither and thither, I put the BuJo aside to attack the massive myriad of things I’d neglected. I didn’t pick up my fancy pens or my special ruler. I wouldn’t until I’d taken care of business.

Lots of the articles I read said things like don’t overthink it, there’s no such thing as perfection, you can make it as time-consuming as you’d like. I feel like they were talking me down from the ledge before I even got started.

Guess what happened? I went from this (left) to this (right).

BuJo wiped me out. Two weeks in and I was done. Of course, this wasn’t a challenge or a competition or anything. It was just me trying something new and seeing how it worked out for me. I hate to quit anything, so there is a little of something like failure trying to find a foothold in my brain. I’m not letting it get any purchase, though.

I’m keeping my new notebook, along with my daily planner, my stack of post-its, my mini notebook, and my book of random thoughts. I plan to flip it open when I’ve got an idea or when I need a reminder of some of the gems I’ve already captured that need polishing.

Or I can just fill it up with doodles.

Would you try bullet journaling to keep track of your goals? Tell me about it!

featured image courtesy of