Updated: Feb 21, 2021
Eighteen months ago, a good friend introduced me to a Bujo(Bullet Journal). I’ll be honest, I thought she was making it up until I Googled it and, low and behold, there was image after image of handwritten pages, some designed substantially better than others, but nevertheless, produced in a myriad of colours on a selection of paper.
My friend advised me I must use squares made up of dots (the most versatile she informed me, though there are blank and lined available) and it has to be a Leuchtturm 1917. Now, I have always been a fan of a hard backed book — my daughter finds it hysterical when I browse stationery shops, stroking covers of assorted journals, and muttering her favourite phrase:
“Ooo, you can’t beat a hardback book.”
Over the last twenty years or so, I have used lined versions for songwriting but nothing ever really happened to the book other than being filled in on the sporadic event of a musical “masterpiece” being composed. I had flirted with diaries, but after a couple of months, they became lost in the bottom of my drawer, abandoned and desolate.
Back to my chocolatier friend, who showed me how she used her Bujo for weekly plans, recipes, to-do lists — you get the idea.
“Why not just do it on your phone? I bet there’s an app for that.”
I asked — me being the technological genius, seamlessly syncing data between watch, phone, tablet and computer. She just laughed at me explaining that that wasn’t the point. By creating monthly calendars, weekly plans or elaborate to-do lists it gave her time to think about the content and provided ownership of those thoughts. There were also sketches of new tasty treats she was developing and long term plans for the future including new machinery and perhaps premises.
"A personal journal is an ideal environment in which to “become.” It is a perfect place for you to think, feel, discover, expand, remember, and dream." ~Brad Wilcox.
She explained all these things in the same place — a working journal made it more efficient. It didn’t matter what her bullet journal looked like. It was about how it made her feel, and how effective it is in moving her towards the things that matter to her. I was impressed.
New Page Smell
So, when I returned home, off to the shop I went and purchased a black Leuchtturm 1917 and some rather satisfying fibre tip pens (Stabilo thin line). I opened at the first page and was greeted with the feeling I had at school as a child and still do now at the start of the year as a teacher. That new page smell.
It was the summer holidays so I filled in the bujo based upon my music plans. Gigs, songs to learn, things to do, etc... More importantly, I drew out all the grids for months, weeks, to-do lists. I took the time to do it and felt pride in what I had done. It made perfect sense to have it all together.
Don’t get me wrong, being a teacher and having six weeks over summer gave me a lot of time to do it. It did cross my mind how efficient it would be when I returned to the classroom.
“Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.” — Mina Murray
I included many different elements over the summer and when I went back to school, I continued with my weekly plan and to-do lists. I wish I hadn’t. Some of the contents of the Bujo were personal to me, like a teenage diary, and having that sat on my desk in school was not a good idea.
So, I purchased another (a different colour) and kept the original for home and my thoughts and the new for school. Again, the school one eventually fell by the way and I continued using the original. I found myself adapting it more and more.
A section on positive affirmations; something to remind me of what to think each morning to improve my mood. I also developed a mood tracker I had seen online to track bad habits I was trying to stop and good habits I was hoping to develop. I evaluated the previous week and planned the following one. I thought about who I needed to thank and addressed anything that was negative in my day.
“Journal writing gives us insights into who we are, who we were, and who we can become” — Sandra Marinella
I also pooled all my old, inferior, lined hardback books and all song lyrics were entered into a new Leuchtturm 1917 and I must admit, it was a very satisfying process which has led me to compose a book of my song lyrics.
I found the school journal was being used less and less; eventually not at all but I felt I wanted to use the “Bujo” vibe in school and it intrigued me how children would take to it. So, throughout the year, I decided to develop my own journal for teachers. I pulled together all the elements of what I had found useful and chucked out what I did not find useful. Finally, I had a teacher bujo. So how would I describe it?
What’s in it?
This journal is not designed to be a diary you use at work. You know, the one with bits of paper and lots of crossings out. That diary may often cause stress every time you look at it. This journal is designed to improve your well-being. After everything that has happened in 2020 so far, we all need a bit of well-being. So, what does this journal offer?
Well, it is about you. It is looking at your goals, both professional and personal. For you to create some positive affirmations about yourself and your day. Think of your goals and those around you; how you will make the coming week great and reflect on all that is good and plan for the following week.
Not just work but plan your own well being. You may find you will not even take this journal into work but fill it in in a morning, after work or before bedtime. It is to remind you that you are a good person and all the good things that happen to you in your life.
Weeks start on a Sunday so that when you look at a new week it starts with something great you have done over the weekend. This is a positive journal for your positive thoughts. Your job is hard enough without worrying about your own negative thoughts.
The weekly plans continue throughout holidays and the summer break because your mindfulness does not stop then. That is when you recharge and reflect on your time at work Fill in the year planner at the start with holidays, weekend plans and ways of self-improvement. Spread the love with work colleagues and share your positive affirmations. Look at your mood tracker each week and see what areas of your life you need to prioritise further.
Set goals and rewards for yourself and share the positive quotes used throughout. Doodle in the margins and do mindful colouring. There are hidden tips and hints to help you relax and reflect and be the great person that you are.
Give It A Go
If you have never had a go at journaling, I strongly advise you to give it a go. It’s a great way to plan ahead and reflect on what’s passed. And if you create your own bujo (which I recommend, despite developing three of my own), you will find a newfound appreciation for what you do. So, start 2021 with a bujo and be Bujotastic.
I adapted my teacher bujo to make a child bujo and then a generic one that anyone can use. So I have to thank my chocolatier friend for introducing bujo’s to me; they certainly are a sweet thing and I have enjoyed using them, in whatever form to develop my own well-being. For more information and other posts, please visit www.chrisallton.co.uk