starting a bullet journal? read this first.


It’s a new year, and LOTS of people are excited about trying a new bullet journal! That’s so cool, and I love to see everyone doing this planning system for the first time. However, I think there are a few things we need to remember.

  1. It’s not all about how pretty it looks. This is it! I’m starting off this list with the single most important thing! I rant about this all the time. New bullet journal-ers are SO excited to start, but they often start for the wrong reason. Instead of telling you what it is supposed to be, I’m going to tell you what it isn’t. The purpose of a notebook is not to compare your art or handwriting to another person’s notebook. It’s not to be the perfect planner or a gorgeous container of paper that’s supposed to get you thousands of followers on Instagram. It’s not for anybody else to enjoy. It’s not fluffy or stupid, either. It’s not a shallow thing. So what is it? It’s for you. What do you want it to be?
  2. You don’t need special stationery. Look, I love pens and pretty stationery as much as the next fanatic, but a true bullet journal sticks to two basic objects: a black pen and a notebook. That’s it. Not a tombow dual brush pen, not a mildliner, not a crayola supertip marker, not sparkly washi tape… It relies on only a notebook and a pen. Hey, I know someone who uses a binder and notebook paper for easy removal of pages, so I guess you don’t even really need a notebook. For the most part, I just use a black pen and my trusty hardcover dotted notebook. I’m not going to link it because I don’t think you need to copy what works for me to get good use out of your notebook. (However, if you truly want to know, go to my YouTube channel, Rachel Ellynn M.) Just use what you think you need.
  3. Keep it simple at first. So, basically, the original Ryder Carroll format isn’t what I stick to. However, it’s the method that was designed to work for ADHD and he wants it to be universal — until you find something that works better for you. I found a system that I altered, and it worked more and more the more I allowed it to show itself to me. I couldn’t have found that system unless I tried the bare bones and decided other things were going to work better. For example, I started using daily rapid logging like the original method. Then, I switched to weekly spreads (this was a mistake because I saw how pretty the ones on Pinterest were and wanted to make them like this). After that definitely didn’t work, I went back to daily rapid logging and found that it was best for my running mind. I guess my point is, don’t get too excited about all the crazy trackers and collections you can implement until you know for sure what basic pieces work for you.
  4. Do a mental inventory before anything else. This is the most therapeutic part, and I love it so much because it dumps out your mind! Seriously. There are three sections: what I’m working on, what I should be working on, and what I want to work on. Sounds kind of easy, but you really have to sit down and think about it. Some people do it in sections of their lives, like school, work, personal, family, spiritual… I like to dump it all into one. Just make three columns, label them, and start writing. Now, look at the things on all the lists in one. Which items are non-negotiable? Circle them. Which items can you not care less about? Cross them out. If you don’t absolutely need to do something, and you don’t want to do it, then here’s a simple revelation. Only put priority items on your plate. The mental inventory can help you weed those out.
  5. Carry it everywhere. I’m sure people will dispute about this, but I treat my bullet journal much like car keys, a wallet, or a cell phone… I take it everywhere. In 2020, my new one is Pepper, and she is going to get extremely acquainted with the way I live my life. If this sounds silly, I don’t care, but I think my notebook can learn about me and serve me better if I take it along for the ride. Plus, at the end of the notebook’s use, you can smile and notice all the places where you dropped it or the bookmark frayed. You can watch it age. Your journal is a piece of history. Take it and make note of anything and everything.
  6. Claim it as yours. Listen, this journal is only for you. Only you have to see it, use it, keep it up. So make it yours! Much like a blank canvas or empty house, design it the way you see fit. Keep it minimalistic and only add the bare details, or plaster it with artwork and make it crazy colorful. Mine is somewhere in between. I myself enjoy a collage or quote page every once in a while, but then again I also enjoy a quiet page for simple lists. Whatever makes you feel at home in this notebook that you’ll call home for however long it takes to fill it up. (Also, I usually start over for the new year, but I never finish the notebook, so I’m using a shorter one this year.) Let yourself take creative space in the journal that keeps your life together. It’s gonna be in your possession for a while.

So those are just six little reminders before you truly break into that notebook. I wish the best to you and your little companion.

-ellynn

2020: what you should be doing.


It’s the time of year where all the yadda-yadda about goals and fitness plans get spewed all over the internet. Now, it’s fine to be “working on your summer body,” whatever that means, but there are some things that definitely need to be done. I don’t have to tell you what those things are — they’re up to you — but I can give you an idea of what to think about.

Who are you right now? Who will you be? One of my favorite exercises, as we wind down the year, is drawing my current and future self. I’m not the best at drawing, but I draw a typical outfit, hairstyle, and expression of myself at this very moment. I then list aspects of my life: spirituality, physical health, mental health, relationships, aspirations… I get brutally honest with who I am and what I want at this moment. Then, I move to the next page and draw who I will be in a year. Again, exactly what outfit, hairstyle, and expression I’ll be wearing. What do this person’s spirituality, physical health, mental health, relationships, aspirations… look like? What’s happening one year from now? Notice the wording I use. Not what I want to be. What I will be.

What is your 2020 “theme?” I did a lot of reflection to figure out what my theme will be for next year, but I’ve decided on “discovery.” I’m entering college in the fall of 2020, as some of my more avid readers know, and it’s a chance to figure out who I want to be. I’m sure every naïve college freshman says that, but it’s okay for me to want a fresh start. It’s okay that I plan to make some stupid decisions. I toyed around with “learning” or “change,” but “discovery” makes me feel like I’m uncovering a mystery this upcoming year. Like 2020 will be rare, novel, and fun. That’s what I want my life to feel like. What’s your word? If you’ve settled into the same routine for a few years, that’s alright. But what are you chasing this year? Maybe it’s more money. Maybe your word is “stability.” Or maybe you want to develop your relationships, so your word is “love.” Do some thinking.

What can you do to embody that theme? I love this part because it’s where you have to generate some kind of action! New year goals are so completely useless without action behind them. Like, yes, I can say I want to be an Olympic swimmer, but unless I make a plan to get into the pool, I’m never gonna get there. (I do not, for the record, have any interest in Olympic sports.) So for me, I’m going to create discovery by doing these things:

  • get inspired by following other writers, musicians, and other creators
  • travel to new places
  • absorb more media (podcasts, youtube, books, documentaries…)
  • spend more time in nature
  • journal in the mornings
  • meditate at night — just sit and get quiet

How do you want to feel? If you can’t answer that just yet, think about how you feel now. Go back to your current/future self. Maybe you feel unmotivated, and you want to feel excited. I wrote down that I want to feel joyful, awake, clear, and inspired. If you wanted, you could go even further to consider how you will feel that way. For example: to bring in more joy, I’m doing the 30 Days of Joy challenge by Rebecca Kochenderfer. You can find it here when you join Journaling.com.

What will you let go of? I love this question. We, as people, love to complain. This is a form of constructive complaint. Write down everything you hate and want to go. Crappy interactions with coworkers, road rage, spending too much on not-so-great coffee… Write it all down. You might write: fear, unhealthy eating, overwhelm, feeling stagnant, passive mindset… As you write it, acknowledge that you denounce those things. Throw it in the fireplace if it feels right.

What will you let in? Again, pay attention to my wording here. What are you going to allow to surround your life? What will you let give you hope, joy, inspiration, confidence? This suggests that these things are already knocking at the door of your life. You simply need to open it. When you do, you may be inviting free time, fluidity, love, rest, health… into your life. Take a deep breath and acknowledge that the only barrier (within your control) between you and your desires is your own will. What do you want?

So now, we’ve answered the hard questions. The prompt I have for you now is, will 2020 be a year of action? Or reaction?

-ellynn ❤

P.S. I’ve been using the WordPress free photo library for quite some time, but today, I’ve included an original photo! I’m still not great with photography, but I hope that I’m able to post more original visual content. Enjoy 🙂