I Write Every Day But You Don't See It

March 12th, 2018

I haven't been blogging lately. Working on personal projects on my time off from work takes precedence over actually writing about what I'm doing. Currently, I'm creating an incremental game in React that will use Unstated to take care of the game state and logic.

What I have been doing since the beginning of the year, however, is bullet journaling. I started off following the instructions on bulletjournal.com, but now that I'm three months into the exercise I've created a journal that I feel best fits my needs.

I still follow the basic bullet journal module format. I have an index, a future log, a monthly log, and a daily log. At first, my daily logs were sparse, just going over what had happened in that day in a short bullet format. I could put two or three days onto a page. I devised a system to differentiate between work happenings and the rest of my life.

However, I've recently incorporated another journaling technique into the bullet journal that has been helping me stay on track. For a couple of weeks I was having problems staying on track with my journal, sometimes waiting until the next morning to write. Having added stress and relatively unhappy things to journal didn't help my motivation.

After a few days of morning bullet journaling I started searching for other people who bullet journal in the morning and found an interesting journal framework: the Five Minute Journal. While the Five Minute Journal relies on a fancy, pre-printed journal with prompts and quotes, I simply incorporated its promps into my regular daily bullet journaling.

Now my journaling goes like this:

  • At the beginning of a journal, create the Index and Future Log.
  • Every month, create a Monthly Log that is a calendar of upcoming events and very important happenings in the month (paydays, etc).
  • Also at the beginning of the month, create a Daily Gratitude page. This is a holdover from my earlier bullet journaling, but is also present on each Five Minute Journal page.
  • Every morning, begin the Daily Log with a Daily Quote. I always find something that resonates with something going on in my life right now. I list Today's Goals, and also a one-sentence answer to "What would make today great?" Finally, I write down a Daily Affirmation that will guide my day.
  • Every evening, I check off my completed tasks from my Daily Log. I then bullet every major event in my day, going into as much detail as I deem necessary. Finally, I finish up the Daily Log with a short food log (I'm terrible at calorie counting but I am tracking what I eat), a note on the weather, and my overall mood.

I'm now averaging a page per day with this new framework. I worry that if I write too much each day that I'll be reluctant to go back and reflect on what was written months earlier, but I also don't want to miss anything important. While I'm not great with to-do lists, I've found that writing out my goals for the day has helped me gain some clarity before starting my day. It's inevitable that my goals will change once I get to work, but if I go into the office with a general idea of what's awaiting me, I'm able to get started on something productive much faster.

It's amazing to see where I am in mid-March versus the beginning of this year. On a personal note, I've lost 11 pounds since mid-January and visited Disney World nine times. Professionally, I've shipped two major projects and have tackled some interesting career challenges already this year, and without journaling I'm sure those early-in-the-year achievements would have faded by the time annual reviews roll around in December.

My best advice for bullet journaling is to try it and allow your writing to morph into something that works for you. Also, don't get discouraged with an ugly bullet journal. There are so many artsy and beautiful journals on the internet. I don't discourage making a pretty journal if it makes you happy, but I feel like it's harder to be genuine with an Instagram-worthy journal. I'm fine with my plain, private journal with its mixture of pretty and ugly moments.