A while back I won a notebook with dotted paper in it. I had seen blank notebooks and lined notebooks and even notebooks with squared paper. But I had never seen a notebook with dot paper in it. I am a stationary junkie, so this was really weird for me.
What do I do with a dot paper notebook!?
I had heard of bullet journaling and people using fancy planners in leather cases which were always too expensive for me to get, but I never realised dot paper is specifically used for bullet journals.
Last year I managed to get hold of a really nice planner which had diary pages and set out to do lists in it. It was fantastic and I used it all year. This year I was at a loss what to do. Then I discovered bullet journaling.
This was a revelation.
If you don’t know what a bullet journal is, it’s a cross between a diary, a journal, a sketchbook and a scrap book. It’s a place to keep all the important life things you need to do and where you can track your progress towards goals and schedule appointments. It’s a way to organise your life.
Too many dots
But, at first, I was a bit wary of the dots.
When you watch a tutorial on YouTube where someone draws out a diary spread, you can’t see the dots. It looks like they are drawing super straight lines without a ruler. That’s freaky.
Another thing they don’t tell you straight up, is that you have to measure out the dots to get a perfect grid. This can take longer than drawing the grid!
Some of my early spreads are a bit chaotic as a result.
But because I am an artistic person, I really began to enjoy being able to create my own planner from scratch, adding doodles and colours and stickers. And lots of washi tape.
Essentially the dots on the paper are to help you space bullet points and draw grids. But I found that there were lots of other uses for them. Here are my top five uses for dot lined paper.
1. Creating tables and grids
So, the first thing I came across was the classic bullet journal tracker, which looks like a punch card from an ancient computer after it is filled out. Just the look of this was enough to make me want to create one.
At first, I thought that actually tracking my habits was a little too organised for me, but I have found that this does helps me particularly giving me an awareness of what I want to improve in my life.
I realise that a habit tracker should not look like a punch card, and should be a solid block of colour, if you complete all the habits on it. In fact, some people separate the habits they want to keep track of into different boxes. This can be easier than trying to track lots of different habits all in the one place.
Similarly, it makes sense to limit the number of habits you want to track to a manageable amount. Don’t try and do too much all at once or you may not get anything done.
Another way to so this is by making a graph, the dots can help you plot the points which should move up over time. This can be useful for tracking finances or a writing goal.
2. Drawing designs like knotwork or mandalas
I know this is not related to planning, but I found that the spacing of the dots is exactly right for designing complex Celtic knotwork designs and drawing out mandalas.
Using a mandala drawing as a tracker for my moods has also been useful for me, since I was drawing mandalas before. I had not heard of mood mandalas until someone mentioned it to me as a comment on one of my Medium posts. I looked them up, and have found them so useful, fun and relaxing to draw.
Keeping a note of how I feel each day also helps me keep my emotions in check and not let them run my life. I am in control and that makes me feel better. Awareness is the first step.
3. Planning my time
Having so many dots on a page means that you have more space to write in than in a lined notebook (if you write on each dotted line and very small) in this way I can break a whole day down into time slots and I can mark out what I do with that time. My days can start at 5am and not finish until 9pm. This can be a long day. Sometimes it is just nice to be able to see that visually.
4. Icons and symbols
Any symbols look fantastic framed by tiny dots. Dot paper could have been made for writing in symbols.
So, in my journal I did some research on astrology, which is something I am interested in but don’t know much about. I cast my birth chart and worked out what all the symbols mean. Writing it out in my journal helped me to understand it better and was so much fun. It’s like learning a new language.
Another thing I found, which was fun to do, was draw out tarot spreads. These look so organised in my journal.
Other things you can do are little weather icons, if you want to work out what the weather forecast is going to be for the day or week, if you are planning trips.
I also plan on researching constellations, and I can draw these out in my journal too, using the dots as stars.
When I think of brainstorming, I tend to think of mind maps where the question sits in the centre of the page and ideas radiate out from it. However, classic brainstorming is actually a simple list of bullet points. Perfect for a bullet journal!
If you want to get some good ideas for a project — say Medium articles to write- you realise that you can actually go beyond what you first thought very quickly. Again, it sometimes just takes the act of writing it out so you can visualise what you want to do and where you want to go.
By actually writing out anything into a physical journal with a physical pen, we are creating something out of nothing. We are already at the first stage of manifesting our dreams.
Thank you for reading! My Name is Nadia Davidson. As a practicing artist, I enjoy writing about art and other creative pursuits as much as I enjoy painting with words and crafting stories. Creating juxtapositions and connections between disparate ideas is what informs most of my work. Please visit my website at www.moltenimaginings.com for inspiration.