Creative Journaling

As a Content Creator I need to create, almost everyday, something that will inspire others. And if I’m not creating something, then I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything, or that I didn’t accomplish anything important. Creative is at it’s core problem solving, identifying patterns, and using information in new and unique ways. We’re creative all the time, we just don’t often realize we’re being creative. But being a “Creative” usually means that we’re intentionally creative. We take things a step further.

Most of the people I know are creative, and many of them would tell you that creativity takes practice, and patience. However, practicing creativity can be difficult. Sometimes, we’re expected to be creative and yet we are given very little time to actually practice. This is where having a journal just for creativity comes in especially handy. Since I’ve been keeping a record of my thoughts, ideas, experiences, especially in regard to my creativity, I have found that I am more likely to apply my creative skills to my daily tasks, I’m also more creative in general, and I am able to take notice of patterns in regards to my creativity–I tend to be more creative in the evenings or at night, for example. And I’ve also found that the more I interact with my creativity in my journal the more motivated I am to be creative.

Journaling

Journals are a great place to write down, work through, and expand upon your ideas and questions. I write ideas for videos, projects, books, and household DIY projects, as well as things I might want to try, things I need to practice, products I want to try out, classes I want to take, books I want to read, and anything else that comes to mind–like how to re-organize my craft and art supplies. One of the best reasons I’ve found for using a creative journal is that it helps me to hone, develop and refine not only my art and writing skills, but my critical and creative thinking skills as well. I’m much more organized, focused, and productive now because of journaling.

However, creativity doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes, especially some days, it takes a lot of practice to maintain my creative momentum. Whether you’re a writer, a blogger, an artist, a crafter, a scrapbooker, planner, or any other kind of creative, there is always a new technique to learn and or a skill to practice. Writing your ideas down (a brain dump or a mind spill), mind-mapping your thoughts, and/or practicing your drawing techniques all help you continue to develop essential skills (and believe me, I need all the help I can get). Skills like refining ideas, organizing and/or expressing your thoughts, which have been part of my goals lately, and much more.

Creative Journal

If you’re anything like me, and you tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to your creativity, especially since much of my creativity is on some form or other of social media, then perfectionism could be holding you back. When you tend to focus on the result, rather than the process that inner critic we often call self doubt, kills creativity. A creative journal can help you silence your self-doubt. In my Creative Journal I try to make sure that the feeling have is that I’m drawing or writing for myself, even though I might be using my ideas and doodles for my work, but I’m less likely to be caught up in the perfectionism if I keep the feeling of this is just for myself. If I can focus on the process when I’m working in my creative journal instead of the result then I’m much more creative and the perfectionism and self-doubt don’t bother me (as much).

Since there aren’t any rules when it comes to journaling, especially creative journaling, there’s no wrong way to journal, so whatever you write, or draw, or plan, or create in your journal is “all good.” It’s a safe space where your creativity can progress without having to worry about your work being judged or ridiculed. If you haven’t picked up a journal and been a bit creative today, then now is the time to do it. In the next post we’ll talk about supplies… what kind of journals are out there, pens, etc… but for now all you really need to be creative in your journal is a journal and a pen or pencil. Have fun creating.

Rediscovering my love for Planning

For the longest time the only things I used for planning were: a letter or legal sized notepad, a monthly pocket calendar (the one you pick up from Dollar Tree or your local drug store for about $1, though I do remember the kids from the elementary school selling some every year), and a monthly wall calendar. That’s it. I kept up with my To Do’s on the pad of paper–I would date it at the top and then list my to-do’s, starting with the biggest priority things. I would put a check mark by it when I started it and then make the check mark and X when I was finished with it. I wrote all my bills, appointments, events, birthday’s, etc on both calendars. The wall calendar was so that I didn’t have to go digging through my purse to find my pocket calendar to know when certain bills were due, or when I needed to send out a birthday card, etc. This was before cell phones, Facebook, and app’s like Google Calendar. My system worked for decades.

Then when I was in my mid to late twenties (so 1990’s) I saw a coworker using this leather binder that she said was called a Franklin Covey. She said I could get something similar at Office Depot or Staples if I wanted to try it. So I did, but the rings… I am not, and never have been, fond of ring bound, spiral bound… but I tried it. After about a month I went back to my legal pad and pocket calendar. I’d kept the wall calendar because each month I got to laugh at a new Garfield or Snoopy or Ziggy cartoon, and all my children’t school stuff like holidays and teacher workdays, along with Doctor appointments, and our household bills were listed on that calendar–it was how I kept up with everything, and the to-do list was how I managed to remember what I’d done and completed versus what I’d started but hadn’t finished…

Fast forward a couple of decades and once again I was tempted by a ring bound planner, only this one was called a Filofax. Somewhere on my Youtube Channel there is a video about that Filofax… Needless to say, I still was not a fan of rings or spiral bound, but I did give it a good try. I also tried the Fauxbonichi, then the Hobonichi, the Bullet Journal, the Omni Journal, as well as a few other things like the Master Planner, Wordsmith Planner, the 90x Goal Planner, and the Creative Minds Journal…just to name a few. Recently, I’ve been using the Creative Minds Journal as a sidekick to my Bullet Journal, and the Hobonichi as my Personal Planner. I think I might have found my grove.

I just sent out my Newsletter for April, and I have to say that what I’ve recently been doing is really working well for me. The Bullet Journal is and isn’t a planner. It’s technically a Journal in which you can do all kinds of things in, from planning to sketching to journaling to taking notes, etc. After reading Ryder Carroll’s book about the Bullet Journal, I realized that I was focusing too much on things other people were doing in their bullet journals instead of what I really needed in mine. And that’s the great thing about the Bullet Journal System–you can make it your own. I did a blog post about the system here.

**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission,which helps me purchase items to review, at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.**

I’ve realized learned a great deal since that blog post:

  1. I don’t have to have a habit tracker unless I actually need one. There are other ways to track habits. Some habits do not need to be tracked. If a habit tracker works for you, great. But if it doesn’t, then it is okay not to include a habit tracker.
  2. I love art and adding touches of art to the pages of my bullet journal brings me joy. Some days though, I just don’t have the time and I need more function, less pretty, and that’s okay. And some days the function is really messy… and that’s okay too!
  3. I mess up and have to fix mistakes. Correction tape, white Posca Markers, and white Signo Uni-ball pens are my best friends.
  4. I do NOT like cream paper. I prefer white paper, and so far for journals that don’t have Tomoe River paper my preference is the Archer & Olive notebooks, or the Scribbles that Matter notebooks. But my next Bullet Journal will be either a Taroko Design Breeze or a half year Stalogy notebook. I love those notebooks–not only is the paper white or nearly white, but it holds up to almost everything you put on the pages–from watercolor to fountain pens. Yes, you do have to let the ink dry, and yes the watercolor does wrinkle the paper slightly, but I like the crinkle the paper makes… it’s a lovely sound when you’re turning the pages.
  5. Though I have seen many people using their Hobonichi’s to Bullet Journal, no matter how hard I’ve tried it just doesn’t really work for me. The Hobonichi is set up perfectly as a planner, plus there is more than adequate room on the daily pages to do a bit of planning and a bit of journaling, though if your handwriting is larger like mine, the grid is a bit small. And if you write a lot like I do, then that one page per day might not be enough for your journaling, documenting your day, art, etc. This is where the Bullet Journal comes in, at least for me, which is why I use them in conjunction with each other. That might be too much for some, not enough for others, but it works well for me. (And using the Creative Minds Journal, even though the pages are cream, for my “content creation plannng/projects” is working well enough, but I don’t think I’ll buy another of the journals… I’ll just use my bullet journal once I’ve either grown tired of the cream paper or fill the journal. And I’ll have an extra watercolor palette for my grandson Viktor to use.)

Figuring out what works and what doesn’t work isn’t always easy, but some of the best advice I’ve heard in regard to planning is this: if your system works then it doesn’t matter what planner you use. I’ve been honing my system. In a way, I’m now using a much fancier version of the system I used many, many moons ago when I was writing my to-do’s down on a pad of paper, and using a pocket calendar as my “everyday carry,” and my wall calendar in my kitchen as my planning hub. As we close up April over this next week, I’ve already found a weekly layout for my Bullet Journal, thanks to Eclectic Scribbles, and I’ve finally found my way through using my Hobonichi and my Bullet Journal system together, which I talked about in one of my videos in the Newsletter I just sent out.

Not my image: found in Pinterest!

On a side note, when I first started figuring out what I was going to do for May, I asked my Patrons what theme they’d like to see… I offered a few suggestions, most of which I’d already done before, but I wanted something different. And one of them said I could do a Garden theme… and the more I thought about it the more I realized that would be perfect. Do my own thing with the Garden theme, of course, but I could have fun with it. I love drawing and watercoloring so the idea of drawing garden tools, veggies, herbs, fruit… a garden gnome or three… definitely appealed to me. Thus, May’s spread in both my Bullet Journal and Hobonichi have a garden theme. If you’d like to see May’s spread now sign up for my Patreon page. Or you can wait for Friday when I’ll have the shorter, more time-lapsed version up on my Youtube Channel.

Hope you have a great week!

Thanks,

Burgess

Decluttering my Brain with my Bullet Journal and the Bullet Journal Method

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The Bullet Journal Method Book by Ryder Carroll, has changed how I look at not only my planning method, which is what I thought a bullet journal was–but nope, it’s a journal, but it has also changed how I look at my journaling. It feels more like a hybrid between a journal, common place journal, and an agenda, but we’ll talk about that later. For now, I want to concentrate on how much it’s actually helped me declutter my life, including my planning, and journals. 

I’ve been practicing a form of bullet journaling on and off for a couple of years now. It has been an important tool for organization and productivity for me, as well as an outlet for a busy mind, but until I read Carroll’s book I was more busy than productive, overwhelmed, and no matter what I tried things just didn’t work–I would be productive for a bit, less overwhelmed and stressed out, but before long I’d end up frustrated because the bullet journal system didn’t seem to work as well for me as it did for so many others. Then I started reading the book The Bullet Journal Method.

If you’re not familiar with the bullet journal here’s a quote from the book written by the founder of the Bullet Journal system, Ryder Carroll:

Whether you’re an experienced Bullet Journalist or a newcomer, The Bullet Journal Method is for anyone struggling to find their place in a digital age. It will help you get organized by providing simple tools and techniques that can inject clarity, direction, and focus into your days. (p. 11)

And if you’re still not sure, check out his website and video here.


**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission,which helps me purchase items to review, at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.**

First, let me just say I’m a creative person at heart. I am a content creator: I create videos on Youtube and on Patreon; I am a writer, an artist, a DIYer, but I’ve always thought of myself as a journaler, not a planner. I plan to make my life easier, to help me get and stay organized and productive, so when the bullet journal seemed to be more about pretty spreads, fancy to-do lists and trackers, and/or a hell of a lot of work to keep it neat and organized (for some, not all) I all but gave up. I tried going back to the system again and again, in various ways… and then I had this big A-HA moment when reading the book.

The start of today’s page…

Bullet Journaling is so much more than just pretty spreads, fancy to-do lists and trackers. It takes mindfulness, adds a plan, and takes mindfulness and a strategy to maximize your time, energy, and potential, and can help you cut out the extra and allows you to focus on the important tasks, the steps to complete projects, and reach your goals.

The Bullet Journal consists of 5 parts: Index, Future Log, Monthly Log, Daily Log, and Collections. The Index assists you in locating things in your notebook–like a map. The Future Log is a brief glance at the coming months and things that you need to keep note of in the future. The Monthly Log is a timeline of the month and a list of tasks, and is the “bird’s eye view” of things. The Daily Log is the workhorse of the system–it is “designed to capture your daily tasks, events, and/or notes. Collections are considered to be the building blocks that allow you to dig deeper into things, whether it is a specific project, planning a trip, or even researching a topic of interest.

The day to day activities and events are chronicled with a simple bullet point or other key symbols that help keep things simple, and helps remove distractions and allows you to focus on the things that are most relevant. You can keep your pages as simple and minimal as your want, or decorate and be as creative as you want. The bullet journal method is simple and flexible, and he recommends using the simple backbone of the method for about 3 months before modifying it–however, if you look up “bullet journal” in Google, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube… you’ll find pages that are really simple in design to pages that are extremely creative and artistic. Don’t be scared… There are hacks a plenty if you’d like to add art without actually drawing, and great resources if you’d rather keep your pages simple and minimalistic.

I’m going to be upfront… I’m not great at some of the aspects of the system. Like rapid logging. I’m learning it, and I’m getting better at it, but I’m a wordy, rambly, chatty person (unless I’m in a crowd) so rapid logging is not second nature to me because for it to really work efficiently you need to break things down to the bare necessities (did anyone hear the Jungle Book song, the one from the Disney movie for kids, in their head just then? well, I did).  So I’m working on the “bare necessities” and what that means to me. And that’s the whole thing with any kind of journal or planner system… that you work things out for yourself–what works for you. …”I mean the bare necessities, forget about your worries and your strife… mother nature’s recipes that bring the bare necessities of life…where ever I wonder or where ever I roam…the bare necessities of life will come to you…” 

Okay, okay…enough with the bare necessities, but since I’ve been made to “rest and get well” lately because of the sinus infection, bronchitis, and pneumonia that I had to get at the same time… I have been able to rest at ease lately because…well, I’ve had to because I’m sick, and my husband has put his Taurus foot down and won’t budge about how much I can do… but it’s actually given me some real time for reflection. And that reflection time has come in handy. I’ve spent a lot of time reading, or I should say re-reading various sections of the book so I can get better at things like rapid logging.

I feel like I’m almost on Pause, but that’s not been a bad thing, at least not recently because having slowed down has actually made me re-think my priorities, how I do things, the time I waste, how I could really work smarter not harder, but it’s more than that… If the majority of my journaling, planning, art, etc is more about what I’m doing as a content creator  then I’m missing out… I’ve taken more time the past few months to do things in my journal, planner, etc for myself, without filming… and it’s helped, but I realized while on this “Pause” that part of the issue for me isn’t about that at all, it’s actually the opposite now… I have so many ideas, so many things I want to do, but not enough me or time to do them all. I definitely don’t have enough time to do them, film doing them, edit said videos, write random blog posts (hoping that I can get back into the habit of writing a post or two a week at least), and still live a life outside of content creation.

So I slowed my over active brain down by doing a brain spill. I spilled all those thoughts, ideas, questions, doubts, and a-ha moments I’ve been having lately… Then I started dividing them up into categories: Priority: yes or no. Can do: yes or no. Will actually do: yes or no. Requires buying things: Yes or no. And then I broke what was left down into sub-categories like How long will it take? A week? Month? Quarter? Year? And that left me with what things are actually important to me, the priority things; what things I will do but also can be done; and how long a project might take. Immediately after putting pen to paper and spilling all those words onto the page I felt better.

The next thing I realized is that no matter how well Ryder Carroll has explained the Bullet Journal System and how it can be individualized,  there are people like me who are creative and need or want to be a bit creative with it, thus the pretty, fancy bullet journals. I’ve simplified mine… to little bits of art here and there, but it’s much more functional now. And I’ve been modifying how I do things in my Hobonichi, the journal/planner that is Grand Central Station…I have stopped limiting myself. Stopped thinking in terms of “I should do this here…and this there…” I’ve decided to truly follow my intuition and that means sticking with my creative journey, which encompasses art, journals, writing, and the bullet journal system.

So here’s what I’ve taken away from the Bullet Journal Method in a nut shell. 
Ryder calls it a  “mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system” and that is definitely what it feels like now that I understand the system more. It feels a bit like having an extra part in my brain to help me deal with my life, and all that my life entails–including the creative bits. And I can include as much or as little creative bits as I want to. Eventually, I am going to merge the creative journal and the bullet journal together. I can feel it coming. But for now I’m going to stick to being a bit creative here and there in my bullet journal. Work in it this way for the next 3 months like he suggests.
The whole Rapid logging thing is really about capturing key words, abbreviating…short hand really. When I think of rapid logging I think of “short hand.” Old school I know but that’s what I think of. So rapid logging is really highlighting the important bits… or capturing the important bits with key words and short hand like abbreviations, symbols, underlining, bold, etc… 

And if you really think about what you’re doing, what you’ve done, what you still need to do (what you’ve migrated and why you’ve migrated it)… is it important? Vital? Necessary? Why does it matter? And as you “check in” or reflect on things, the mental inventory, that’s when it clicks… instead of working on auto pilot I’m actually being intentional and mindful of how I use my time and energy, of what is and isn’t working, what I’m doing… Ryder Carroll designed the Bullet Journal to “House whatever your thoughts look like,” which included his notes, schedule, sketches, etc… and to be FLEXIBLE. As I delve more and more into the bullet journal, or the “mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system, ” I find myself understanding much more about the how’s, why’s, what’s, and when’s of my own system and what works for me. 

If you’d like to find out more about my journey with the bullet journal check out my video on Youtube: