Excursions by Amit Gawande

A Month of Bullet Journaling

It’s been around a month since I started maintaining a bullet journal (BuJo, as it is called with love). It has been an enlightening month - I have learned so much about my habits and the way my mind works.

Of course, this wasn’t my first attempt at maintaining a journal or of planning myself, my life through an organizer. There have been many failed new year resolutions that have led to me buying, keeping and planning my days and months in the traditional journals - ones with days, months written on every page. With every day that I had failed to make an entry in, I had lost my interest in writing or planning another today. I just wasn’t organized enough each day, everyday to keep myself, well, organized.

However, I love, love updating my personal bullet journal daily. I believe the analog method of doing so is one big reason behind the change. Thoughts flow freely through the pen on to the paper — a lot more so than they do digitally. There is something about the legibility (illegibility, to be fair) of the handwritten words that lowers some mental hurdles. I always wondered, and even subconsciously ridiculed, the fascination a section of my social circle had with the pen and paper - the pen addicts. But I do fathom the allure now.

The fact that I could be more organized with BuJo by being less organized at times was neat. The process of maintaining” a journal feels a lot less formal and this casualness has done wonders for my journaling/organizing attempts. The whole concept of rapid logging - capturing thoughts as bulleted lists - worked brilliantly for me. It was ok to miss bullets for a day. It was ok to not have any tasks, but only notes for a day. It was ok to not complete tasks on the day, or even in the week that it was written — just migrate it to a new page. It’s perfect for my moody, erratic, unorganized mind.

A month of habit tracking has also been delightful. This is what I was tracking when I started this habit of tracking habits - morning walk/run, publish 100 words every day, measure weight, three meals a day and regular sleep routine.

Bullet Journal Habit Tracking

And boy, have I learned stuff about what makes me carry through any habits. Some habits are easy, some are way too difficult.

  • Habits that I thought would be a cakewalk to follow, turned out to be a walk in a desert. Those I thought would need more push from my side came just naturally.
  • I had thought 100 words to be published daily would be the most difficult task for me to stick to. Three meals/morning walks would be difficult, but not so much. Nah ah. It is apparently easier for me to do things I enjoy doing (bruh, of course) - so I wrote daily more often than I jogged or controlled eating. However, I thoroughly enjoyed attempting to stick to all the three daily, so I plan to continue to track them.
  • Measuring one’s weight daily does nothing but act as a deterrent when you are trying to lose your weight. It is easier to do, but useless. Anything that I shouldn’t be doing daily doesn’t need to be on the tracker.
  • Maintaining regular sleep routine was something I did almost daily. But this tracking was also the most ineffective of the lot. I think I know the reason - I just wasn’t specific enough with my target. Regular” and routine” are subjective. So any sleep more than 7 hours was fine — didn’t matter if it was pleasant or how I felt when I woke up. I do want to sign myself up for a good sleep routine. So this particular item would need some changes.

With all the learnings, I decided to continue with my habit tracker, with some tweaking. This is what I would track as my daily habits for the next month.

  • Rise by 6 AM
  • Morning Walk/Run
  • Morning Pages
  • Publish 100 Words
  • 3 Meals/day
  • Sleep by 11 PM

Since I started maintaining a bullet journal, I have also started carrying along a small diary that I mainly use for the morning pages. It helps me declutter my mind to a limit. Do I see benefits? I believe it is too early to say. But it is something I do want to carry on.

Bullet Journal

It has been a wonderful month of reorganizing the way I lead my life with journals. Is it worth all the effort I have to go through? Only time will tell. But it for sure has made some aspects of my life more fun.

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