SHEWorks: Advice from a Bullet Journal Hipster

In 2014 my husband and I looked around our messy house and hot mess lifestyle and decided that maybe we attempt that whole “adult” thing. We looked into different personal organization systems and found a lifehacker article on the Bullet Journal method of personal productivity.

We both took to it, so much so that our 5 year-old even carries one. When we started, there was a small, but ardently artsy community using fancy tape to make their journals pretty, but since I can’t draw a straight line WITH a ruler, I didn’t pay attention. The journals not only helped us get organized, but led to me losing weight, reading more books, writing more (tada!) and starting a jewelry business.

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My past journals…..

Last week, when I started my fall journal, I realized how far I’d backslid on my healthy habits, and how badly I’d been procrastinating.  Since the journals were a big part of my success, I thought I’d refresh the layout to get me back on track. Oddly, because Google can read my mind and Pinterest knows me, I suddenly started getting “BUJO” links in my inbox.  Two thoughts occurred:

  1. Creepy omniscient Google is omniscient
  2. What the sam hill is BUJO? (and is my safe search on?)

So I opened up Pinterest, the site that specializes in making me feel creatively inadequate and seriously Mason Jar deficient, to investigate. Well, while I wasn’t looking, Bullet Journaling has become A THING. The coloring book fanatics and the scrapbooking devotees had a craftgasam at the idea of a planner you had to completely make from scratch EVERY DAMN DAY. Bullet Journaling was THE way to bring beauty, mindfulness, and order into their lives and provide rationalization for vast collections of papercrafting supplies.

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All the merchandise!

And of course, where Pinterest goes, merchandise follows. In the last month, I’ve seen more products, pinterest links, and craft store displays on “creative journaling” than you can shake a washi tape dispenser at. There are stamps with sassy, yet motivating phrases, stickers with “You Got This” on it, and special pens with different brush tips so you can “write in different fonts” (note: my only two fonts are mostly legible and “were you having a seizure?”). Michaels is even offering ‘planner classes’.

All of these things, while beautiful and……who am I kidding, I bought a bunch of it…..stupid marketing. Besides, it’s research….right? I did list it in my Expenses….wait my Expenses Tracker, so it’s tax deductible right?

Anyway, for science, I dutifully took my new supplies home and started futzing, and six hours later, I was done setting up my fall journal. SIX HOURS!!!!!

Here’s my harumf, all this stuff makes doing a Bullet Journal more time consuming than time saving.  I was chatting with a lady at a birthday party recently (HI MOLLY!) and she said, when I grabbed my book to write down her blog, “oh you do that bullet journal thing… I like the idea; I just don’t have time!”

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They even have organizers for your organizational stuff. Somewhere Maria Kondo is openly weeping.

That’s the problem.  Organizational systems of all kinds are meant to simplify our lives, not make them more challenging. We all have things to do, and all this drawing and stenciling is a Fallout-like timesuck.  Now if making your fitness tracker a shoe-shaped infographic complete with stencils and stickers is your “happy time,” then please go forth and color and washi to your heart’s content. But for those of you thinking of starting something like this to be productive, remember perfect is for Pinterest.

Get a system that works for you. If it doesn’t do something different.  When we over-complicate, we set ourselves up to have to expend willpower to keep doing it. One BUJO blogger (this is now a job you can have) said that they carried these special marker pens and struggled to write without them. Find a system that works, not one that makes you buy new pens in order to track your to-do’s.

So, if you are looking for a new organizational system, DO try bullet journaling, but DON’T feel you have to go crazy. A simple journal (I like Moleskeins) and a pen are all you really need. If you are particular about your lines, a straight edge helps. That’s it. Now I have to go research tax write offs for craft supplies….

Write She Article.— See it works.


paviahigel profile

Lisa Pavia-Higel is a St. Louis based writer, educator and performer. By day, she’s a mild mannered Communication and Media professor at a local community college and an Organizational Strategist for TEDx Gateway Arch and runs her own small jewelry company, Geekery Gal. By night, she’s a stage combat fighting, comic reading, critique writing, productivity advice giving mama. She loves trying things that she’s really not very good at, like sewing, painting and writing succinct biographies. She is indulged by her little geeklet Sofia and intrepid feminist, geeky husband Matthew. She’s too long winded for Twitter, but you can tweet her @lisamariepavia.

Author: Lisamariepavia

Lisa Pavia-Higel is a St. Louis based writer, educator and performer. By day, she’s a mild mannered Communication and Media professor at a local community college and runs her own small jewelry company, Geekery Gal. By night, she’s a stage combat fighting, comic reading, critique writing, productivity advice giving mama. She loves trying things that she’s really not very good at, like sewing, painting and writing succinct biographies. She is indulged by her little geeklet Sofia and intrepid feminist, geeky husband Matthew. She’s too long winded for Twitter, but you can tweet to her at @geekerygal

1 Comment
  1. Trish A. 1 year ago

    “Perfect is for Pinterest”–Brilliant! I am putting that reminder in my new washi-tape-free (so far) journal you inspired me to start.

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