My Dom and I have been living together in 3-6 month increments for the last two years now, and over that time, we’ve developed/are developing a bit of a routine which centers predominantly on my taking up a housewife/secretarial role in our relationship. I’m in charge of the majority of domestic tasks, including the organization of important documents, scheduling and keeping track of appointments and important dates—the works. It’s a weird branch of all of the planning aspects of my job as a teacher (without the chaos of students and Parent Teacher Conferences), and I enjoy it tremendously, but keeping organized, and most importantly feeling organized, is a pretty big challenge when you’re organizing your own life, let alone your partner’s and the rest of your family.
There are tons of ways to organize things whether digitally, in hard copies, or in a combination of the aforementioned. I’ve tried everything from full-on digital absorption to completely out of cyberspace and onto old fashioned note paper, but I generally end up feeling like I’m in a state of barely controlled chaos rather than well organized. Now that I’m more settled, I’ve been desperate to try my hand at this bullet journaling method that everyone and her grandma on Youtube is talking about. (lunaKM included!)
Having been teetering on the precipice of doing the journal “properly” for the last year or so, I wanted to do a review of the method specifically for how useful it is for certain types of submission. That said, I want to say up front about the fact that I have only just started keeping my bullet journal the "correct" way, so I’m definitely wearing some rose-tinted glasses at this point regarding the pros and cons. Regardless, I have done my best to identify some potential problems for you, for the sake of being fair.
What is Analog/Bullet Journaling?
Developed by Ryder Carroll, the idea of analog/bullet journaling is kind of elegant in its simplicity. You have one notebook. Everything goes in that notebook. You divide everything in your life by collections: table of contents/index, future log, monthly log, daily log (these are the minimum Carroll suggests, but I obviously added meal plans, groceries, and various bits that fit my needs). It uses symbols and short phrases to create a concise, powerful method of organization, and it’s designed to help you prioritize everything you have to do, in a single location, with minimal effort.
Bullet Journals are great if you:
- love the sensation of writing things down, but hate the idea of permanency that it implies
- want a record of everything that you do in one location, making it easy to find
- like the security of not having your information floating in cyberspace, but love the organizational power of computers
- are looking for the catharsis of creating/colouring while still feeling productive
- have a love affair with pens
- lunaKM adds: want the flexibility that regular planners lack
You might struggle if you:
- are a perfectionist and always want things to look “just so”
- have a tendency to get off task easily
- don’t want the task of carrying a notebook around with you wherever you go
- don’t keep track of daily tasks
After wandering off to the official Bullet Journal website, I hit youtube for some additional ideas of what I wanted to put in my journal, and I did see some potential problems with the method, so I'm going to list them first as I think recognizing them from the start helped me avoid making some mistakes:
Time Management – Right away, my biggest challenge with keeping a bullet journal is time management. If you check out Carroll’s website you’ll notice that the efficiency of the bullet journal comes from the brevity of the entries and the simplicity of the page set up. However, a quick search on Youtube will yield hundreds of video featuring young wives and moms tapping into their inner arts & crafts nut. The journals that these women walk you through are an intense, vibrant visual cacophony that speaks of hours of set up. Hours. Of set up.
I’ll admit to being a pretty creative person. I do all sorts of weird artsy stuff to fill the time, so I am definitely not judging the people who produce journals that honestly just need to be framed and used as wall decorations because they’re so fabulous looking. It’s going to be fiercely difficult not to get carried away and try to emulate all of those fantastic examples on Youtube—not because it’s the “wrong way” to journal, but because organizing my day needs to be a quick task that I can do either the night before or in the morning so that my Dom can sign off on stuff before she goes to work. It’s also important that keeping the journal doesn’t take time out of doing the tasks themselves.
Pressure for Perfection – The first thing that I did when I set up my journal was to immediately decide to wait until the new month to start keeping my tasks in it. Then I almost immediately forgot, and wrote something for this month in the journal, which I then had to cross out! It was pretty heart-breaking, and it took a lot of effort not to contemplate ripping the entire page out of my journal and starting the spread for the monthly outlook over. The thing is that doing that would have completely killed my numbering system, and I would have lost the page on the back of the one I messed up. Also: I had already designated the next four pages for something, so I’d have had to put my month outlook after my day-by-day breakdowns. All of that said, I decided I had to live with my mistake (and my cross-out).
Because I’m consciously using my journal as a way to explore and a safe place to make stupid design mistakes, I’m pretty okay with it, but if you’re a perfectionist, and you find that you get really anxious about making sure that things are “just so” and that nothing can be out of place, the bullet journal is going to be really counter-productive for you, and probably going to be a source of anxiety.
Where you go, so too must your journal – Another potential hitch to the method is that it does feel like you have to carry your journal around with you to be effective. When you organize things using the computer (provided that your phone/tablet and computer all have compatible OS and apps), your schedule tends to follow you around. If you’re used to keeping yourself organized through digital applications, the idea of carrying a notebook around with you is probably going to feel silly or like a waste of time.
This isn’t particularly a problem for me because I currently lack a smart-device, and I value the sensation of writing things down more than I do the sensation of typing (especially on a tiny phone keyboard). I also don’t like being the person who has to look for an outlet or free wifi if I want to be out of the house for a prolonged period of time but still wants to make notes and cross things off of my list.
Some Good Points
Bullet journaling is the perfect productive outlet if you love colouring books—especially if you love colouring books and never colour because you feel like it’s a waste of time/money. Since you’re literally organizing your life, it’s much easier to make the justification to buy a journal, nice pens/markers, and to take the time to make something creative and colourful than it is to buy colouring books and markers/crayons.
I recommend that you pick a day at the end of each month (or week) to make one of your daily tasks setting up for next month/week, grab a ton of brightly coloured, pretty pens and markers, and let yourself loose on making the templates for each collection you want. If you aren’t artistic, but you love making things look pretty, there are even some people on Etsy who sell stickers that you can purchase and use. Essentially, it’s the closest to a perfect combination of scrapbooking, colouring, and list making that I have managed to come across.
Another thing that I really love about the journal is that it lends itself really well to creating a meeting point for you and your Dom. I sit next to my Dom every morning or evening, and I make my to-do list for the coming day. She recommends tasks for me to add to it and things for me to keep track of. In turn, as I review what I did for the day prior, I’m reminded of things that I wanted to ask permission for, issues with the house that need sorting out, plans that have come up, or events that need to be scheduled. Sometimes, I do most of the talking and get a, “sounds good” in reply, and sometimes we engage in full discussions about things. I have a household wish list that contains items that I want to purchase for the house, either to keep us organized, or I had to give up my version of the item when I moved to the UK, and my Dom has the ability to review that regularly as well.
In addition to being a common ground and a reminder of certain topics of discussion, the journal itself has the freedom and creativity to be adapted to all types of submission. Need to reflect on a scene, but you aren’t a very wordy person? Make a checklist and separate it into “Liked, loved, let’s do again.” Want to keep track of the toys you and your Dom want to purchase? Create a wish list. Want to list out your interests and limits? Your submissive goals for the month? Your rules? If you’re into role-playing, the journal can easily be adapted to a colouring book styled journal for a little/babygirl, a bratty high school girl’s diary, stark slave logs, or the domestic housekeeping records and business scheduling of a wife or a secretary. You can be as minimalist as you want, so if you are balancing a job with your submission, you can still keep yourself and your Dom organized with little effort. Likewise, if you’re a 24/7, stay-at-home sub, and you need a way to kill the time, you can spend as much time making your journal pretty.
My favourite part of the journal being physical, and having everything in it, is that it’s really easy for your Dom to pick up your journal and see what you’re spending your time doing during the day, what you’ve accomplished and how you’re spending your down time. Either your journal can live somewhere in the open, or you and your Dom can create a ritual that involves your Dom requesting/demanding custody of the journal in the evenings so that your work can be reviewed.
The same could possibly be accomplished with a computer by sharing files, but there’s something really satisfying to me about having to hand over the journal, or having my Dom pick up and review the journal of her own accord.
As I’ve said, I’m still new to the bullet journaling process, so I’m sure that there are flaws in the method that I have yet to uncover. Right now, my opinion is that it’s an exciting, versatile way to be creative and to keep yourself organized. I’m looking forward to continuing to work on my journal, and of feeling like most, if not all, of my important information, is in one place that I can physically hold and that doesn’t plug into a wall.
If you’re a bullet journalist who has more experience and insight, leave a comment below telling me what you think and what challenges you face. If keep organized in a different way, let me know that, too!
Interested in Bullet Journaling? Check out the quick reference guide made by Tiny Ray of Sunshine.
Until next time, Kallista