I Did a Thing!

1/07/2022 12:03:00 AM Lexie Dunne 0 Comments

Like my brain, it is empty.

So I started a bullet journal.

I know, I know. Bad idea. I have a habit of running headlong down organization tunnels hoping that a shiny new tool will help me get my cluttered brain in order. And then I’m shocked when it doesn’t. Or not that shocked, really.

So I joke about being ADHD, even though I’ve never pursued an actual diagnosis. My mom has it. My brother has it. So my chances of having it are incredibly strong. And figuring that out as an adult has led to several epiphany moments. Haven’t got a diagnosis or anything1, so instead I run to solution after solution trying to figure out the best way to keep it all together.

My main go-to has been Notion. I love Notion, even though it’s not easy to learn. Designing actual systems in Notion has proven incredibly helpful. I built a database that allows me to track my monthly bills. Another page lets me create a dynamic grocery list that I can lay out in different orders depending on which grocery store I visit. I spent 2020 into 2021 trying and failing at building an entire life wiki system in Notion. But there were drawbacks, so I searched elsewhere, which is how I found Obsidian.

In theory, Obsidian is great! The problem is that it requires knowledge and work to have it accessible in multiple spots. And I…can’t. I need something that I can access from wherever I am, easily and quickly. No double-inputting information. Centrally stored location. I loved it, tried plotting out a whole book series in it, but ultimately I had to walk away.

Enter the bullet journal.

This isn’t my first time with it, just to be up front. I think I saw it for the first time from Kelly Sue DeConnick’s twitter, and it intrigued me.

The creator, Ryder Carroll, first started using this system to deal with his own ADHD. At its basic, core principles, it’s three things: a future log giving a brief overview of the next six months, a monthly log that lists all the date in the current month, and daily logs. These can contain to-dos, notes, observations, etc. All of them clearly marked with their own simple symbols. With the caveat that it’s whatever you make of it, the original bullet journal setup was intended to be easily maintained and at hand.

And that’s the main appeal to me. I have so many random scraps of paper and half-filled notebooks around me at my desk. It’s chaos. So having an analog notebook at hand at all times that I could use as a combination planner/to-do list/scratchpad, well…

Here’s the dark side of bullet journaling, however. Or “bujo,” as the lingo goes.

My Google Search, Folks

It can be addicting as hell to make it look pretty. Partial art project, partial planner. Aesthetic bloggers do monthly “Plan with me” videos and create intricately wonderful “spreads.” They follow themes. They tout expensive stationery and scrapbooking tools and washi tapes and different pens. And I’m a little bummed and trying not to think about how Nikki’s not here scratching at my leg like the needy little jerk she was2, so I’ve been devouring these videos. It’s nice artwork, with soothing voiceover. And it’s like a siren call. Look at how pretty your own “bujo” could be, Lexie. Think of the neat artwork you could make every month.

Two things about that, though:

1. I’m not that talented at drawing or writing. My handwriting is chicken scratch, especially in smaller notebooks.
2. The minute it becomes REMOTELY a chore to maintain this sucker, I’m going to abandon it and it’ll just fall into the graveyard of dead organizational tools.

Because, see, the only thing permanent about dealing with my neurodivergence, whatever it truly is, is impermanence. I’ve learned small ways around it (key ring by the door, dedicated work badge pocket in my bag), but no way in hell this lasts if it loses its shine and becomes more about the organizing than the content.

So I made some rules.

If I want it to look pretty: stickers are great. I can use as many stickers as I want, do as much decorating as I like. Watch as many bujo spread videos as I want, even! But this journal needs to be an aid, not just a pretty art project. So don’t be afraid of messing it up.


I need to carry my bag with me. I really prefer to leave the house with as little as possible: cell phone, wallet, keys. Which can be a problem because I get migraines and have been stranded without my meds before. And the journal’s not going to do me any good unless it’s on me. Ergo: purse.


If something doesn’t fit the traditional format, that’s fine. New page. Worry about aesthetics later, get the information down now.


(This one is hard-earned) Just because I see a thing on Reddit, doesn’t mean it’s a GOOD idea. I need to experiment a little and see what I’ll use the journal for. Cutting some of the page off so I can see a calendar of the month is great and all, but I might need that space.

But now that I’ve gotten that long disclaimer out of the way, I’m going to be one of those annoying people online and talk about my spreads! Because I made some and I’m proud of them, and also this is a pandemic in which I’ve been staying home a lot and taking care of a chronically ill dog, so there’s not really much to put in this blog.

So here’s what I’ve made!

I did a cover page and made it Aesthetic™ thanks to a pack of planner stickers picked up in the clearance aisle on a whim. I cut up a quote and made it the cover page because it felt nice. I have no sense of design and therefore just kind of stuck everything where it made me happy. Everything in here is a little random.

The backside of the cover page is where I put a treasured sticker my friends sent me for my birthday, one I’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to use. I also did a thing I saw in a lot of videos where I made a fold-out page with the key so I could see it all the time if I needed it.


Next page is blank. Maybe I’ll fill it, maybe I won’t. I made a six-month Future Log that’s literally just some boxes and the words Future Log at the top of the page.

After that, I made a page for January with some miscellaneous to-do tasks in the month, plus a daily breakdown. Biggest regret is that I didn’t immediately reserve the pages right after for my daily logs because it’s already a lot of flipping between the two sections. But the page following that is actually a really cool idea I hope I use, which is called the Follow Up log. A better name would’ve been “Brainweasels and the Like.” If I hear of an idea or concept and it sounds interesting but I don’t have time for a rabbit trail, I write it down to follow-up on later.

My migraine tracker is something I’m excited about because I only started tracking my migraines in 2021, and even then I missed a few. Turns out when you’re in a lot of pain and miserably tired, the last thing you want to do is undergo multiple steps to log it. So instead I have created a simple dot-based tracker I saw in several spreads online.

As you can guess, I made it 3 days before migraine

Bear in mind, I have no idea if I’m going to actually use any of these pages. I made them in case I want to, and if I don’t end up doing that, well, it was fun. Like my Dice Ideas page where I can list different dice recipes I want to try. Or [Redacted] Ideas, where I can brainstorm topics for an upcoming project. Or the Media to Remember page, which is where I write things I’ve been watching so I can remember to go and finish them someday when I’m in the mood for them.

Right. Vampire Diaries. I was watching that. Whoops.

It's cool but I want that space back
My daily logs for January, I did a nifty little thing I saw on Reddit (see Lesson #4) where I trimmed some of the pages so I could always see a little habit tracker/calendar to one side. Turns out, and I can’t show this page because it’s got work and private info, I need the whole page for my to-do lists. Whoops. But I’m tracking a couple metrics, so we’ll see how it goes at the end of the month.

After that, it’s the wild west. Whatever I need to put in the journal will go into the journal, and marked on the index. I made up a little bit of a rigid system at the beginning with some ideas and stickers, but if I’ve learned anything about myself, it’s that the more rigid the system, the less likely it is to work.

So yeah. That’s my new affectation for 2022. Anybody else picking up anything new? Tell me about it in the comments, I would love to hear from everybody.

1 And there’s something so inherent and darkly funny to me that the thing that makes your brain all distract-y and scattered requires both intense dedication and organization to receive a diagnosis. I’ve taken online tests that put me as borderline, and at the end of the day, I’m like, eh, I’ve developed coping methods. Too much work to try and figure out if drugs will help me.
2 Tuesday was her last day. She went very peacefully, eating and snoring to the last minute in my arms.


Please keep it PG. My mom reads this blog.