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The Cult of BuJo, Part 2

In the previous post I described how I fell in with a bunch of cultists and acquired my first bullet journal. This is what happened next.

First, I followed the directions, which are quite simple. Make an index? Of course, why didn’t I think of that? Future log? Fancy term for calendar events. I used the symbols suggested by the bullet journal website. I wrote in some tasks and appointments. It seemed too empty so…how about a few collections, like “Article Ideas” and “A Yoga Plan”? Nice. Hmmm, (this is where the trouble began) I wonder what other people do with their bullets. Stop! O.M.G. I had never seen anything like this. What adorable layouts! So colorful, so precise.

I realized that not just any notebook would do. The one I got was good, but unlike those used by the most prolific of bullet journalists, it was lined, not dotted. That’s fine, I thought, I’ll get a dot grid for the next one. Oh! You can use different color inks for your headings or priorities or whatever? I checked my stash of office supplies (every writer has an impressive collection of pens and Post-Its and other procrastination aids) and uncovered a lack of spectrum among my inks. I went to the dollar store. Can’t do too much damage to my wallet there; don’t need more expensive hobbies. I bought some colored pens and pencils, went home, and began the practice of doodling around my notes. At this point I was thinking, this is fun. I may just be able to keep this system going. You know, keeping it light. That is when I discovered a new way of seeing the world: The Weekly Spread.

Not in the original bullet journal instructions, this isn’t your standard week-at-a-glance setup, but something splendid and special. So, I got out my ruler and colored pens and made nice columns for each day of the week, plus dedicated areas for Priorities and Shopping. But something was missing: washi tape. I had never heard of this product before joining the cult. It is a roll of adhesive patterns and textures to pretty up your pages. This required a trip to Michael’s, land of a thousand crafts you never even realized were a thing. There, adjacent to the scrapbooking materials were myriad tools to beautify your journal. My first thought was: Oh, no, I’m in with the scrapbookers?!? I don’t even have a cat! In the past this would have been enough to make me rethink my mission, but not this time. (Note: I am not too cool to scrapbook; I <i> think</i> I’m too cool to scrapbook. There’s a difference.) I was too far gone. Still, I remained budget-conscious, so I limited myself to some glitter tape. Glitter tape! I made a glittery “K” for the front cover and began devising other uses for that sparkly happiness on a roll. Decorative accents and borders, that sort of thing.

By now I had discovered BuJo Instagrammers, a tribe of people obsessed with planning and layouts. This was my first inkling that I may have joined a cult. Some people had created entire blogs just to talk about their bullet journals. There were feeds dedicated to showing off weekly spreads. They had followers, lots of followers. And, it’s not just social media. Type “bullet” into Amazon’s search bar and see what happens. The spreads were beautiful with hand lettering and charts and trackers and art skills I don’t have. Just so you know, I draw the line at hand lettering, but I fell face first into the graphs and charts. The only question was, how many facets of my life could be charted? One woman had made a lovely chart to track her daily habits. So I did it too. Quite useful. Soon, I found myself making better decisions just so I could fill in the squares on the chart. Whole grains only? Let’s use blue! Exercise? Yes, green! Wait a minute. Was this system with the ridiculous nickname actually changing the way I live? For the better? Indeed, I answered myself soberly, indeed, it was. I was more productive, less forgetful, healthier. At this point I had started to become a bit evangelical about it, so I told myself to rein it in and only discuss BuJo with a few (dozen) people who might be interested. They seemed encouraging, but who cared? I had bigger concerns, like figuring out how many journals I would need to buy in a year to keep this up.

I had established the usefulness of my journal, but I needed more—more ways to use my new toys. Pre-BuJo when I needed to waste time, I’d go onto Facebook or take BuzzFeed quizzes (“Tell Us Your Favorite Sushi Roll and Find Out Which ‘80s Hair Band Lead Singer You Should Marry!” That’s not actually one, I don’t think). These days, however, you can find me staring deep into the Instagram abyss and and those of Pinterest and even Twitter uncovering all the ways one can customize a bullet journal. And, I must confess, I’ve been making impromptu visits to Jo-Ann, Michael’s, and anywhere else washi tape might be found. But it’s never enough.

Now—right now—I sit waiting for the UPS person to bring me my dual brush markers and a pack of stencils. I feel like a kid who’s been promised a Razor scooter and then told to sit tight. Usually I order something online and forget about it, so that I’ll be pleasantly surprised when the item arrives. Not this time. I am tracking this package. I’m tracking it hard. It should be here today. It had better be.

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