Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bullet Journaling 101

About 6 months ago, I began bullet journaling. Maybe the logical thing to do would've been to wait until January 1 like a normal person, but I started in the middle of December because I just had so many ideas.

It started with a twitter conversation. People tried to explain it to me and it made sense when they laid it out - a bullet journal is a planner, a to-do list, and a place for notes all in one place. So, then I started googling. I looked at Pinterest, which is a wealth of pictures and blog posts about layouts and ideas. I also looked on YouTube to watch videos of the things people were doing. Then I decided to go for it.

Bullet Journaling uses an index. You write down everything important in your index and the page numbers so you can find it easily. This requires pages for indexing and numbered pages. After falling down my research rabbit hole and realizing these were things I would need, I decided to stick with the Leuchtturm 1917 - which comes with numbered pages, indexes, and bookmarks. It makes things easier for me to have all of that ready to go. (These are available on Amazon a little bit cheaper and I try to check regularly - sometimes certain colors will randomly be cheaper.)

Additionally, the Leuchtturm is available in a dot grid. The benefit of a dot grid is that it it gives guidance for drawing lines and writing neatly, unlike blank pages, but it doesn't feel as constraining as lined or graph paper because it's not as defined. Not everybody is bothered by the definition of lined or graph paper and not everybody wants guidance, so it really depends on your preferences. These notebooks are pretty pricey, so if you're not sure what you prefer or if bullet journaling is even for you, then start with any notebook you have around the house. 

Now, what do you put in a bullet journal? As I said, it's a planner, to-do list, and place for notes. Most people start with a Future Log - which basically means some sort of calendar for future months. Personally, I used two pages and wrote down all the months of the year with some space between, 6 months per page. Underneath, I write down anything relevant - birthdays, events, holidays. 

I also put any trackers that I'll use over and over again for months. For me, that included a purchase tracker, so I can track my spending habits, and some reading trackers - one to track the books I read, counters of what format I'm reading and how diversely I'm reading, etc, which I'll turn into graphs later. There's also wish lists, long term to-do lists, a list of movies to watch, a period tracker, a list of essay ideas I have, a social media tracker, phone numbers for my representatives, a list of passwords for various websites, and lists to track the books I get rid of and the books I bring in this year.

Then comes monthly spreads. There's a lot of ways to do this that depend on your needs. For me, I keep it simple - a page where I put down every day of the month and make any notes of events/holidays/etc that are listed on my Future Log. On the next page, I make notes for the month - Blogbound work, freelance projects I have for the month, Interrobang list I want to get done, and any other notes or goals I have for the month. Super, super simple, but there's all kinds of things people do with their monthly spreads.

Next, I have monthly trackers. I have a habit tracker, both to keep track of when I do things like cleaning the litterbox and watering my plant and to build better habits, like taking vitamins every day, working out, moisturizing. Then I do a Money In/Money Out page, which is literally just a page split in half where I write down my income and my spending. Then I do another reading page, so I can track EVERYTHING I pick up and sketch out my TBR for the month. Finally, I do a Gratitude Log, which has a lot of layout options.

After that, things vary. Some people do weekly and daily spreads, while others just do a weekly - again, it depends on what you need and how much space you need. I don't need a ton of space, so I just write down the date, 4 days on one page and 3 days on the other, and write down any events, appointments, and to-do list items. with the remaining space, I make a notes section for the week - things I don't have to get done on a specific day and things I just want to keep in mind - and a Waiting On section, to keep track of things I'm expecting in the mail.

Beyond that, I make a lot of lists - to-do lists, ideas for Interrobang, time logs for Pique, notes for my manuscripts, places I want to travel, Broadway shows I want to see. I practice my handwriting because I still have a long way to go on that front. Your pages can be whatever you want them to be.

How do you decide what you want your layouts to look like? That, again, comes down to you. I did a ton of research into ways people did layouts to decide what to work on and I still change things up - my June spreads are a total departure from the spreads I've been doing so I can see if I like something else better. As I said before, Pinterest is a really great resource. I have a Pinterest board for bullet journal spreads and for handwriting practice - there's not a ton there, but it prevents getting overwhelmed and helps give you a basic starting point. I also, as mentioned, fell down a YouTube hole. One of the most helpful channels was Boho Berry. She has a ton of videos, but probably the most helpful series is her Bullet Journal 101 series. But she also has Plan with Me videos, tutorials on different layouts, comparisons, and other tips. Additionally, she has a blog, an Etsy shop, and she has a newsletter that includes some freebies and discounts. 

As a bonus, once you start looking at these kinds of things, Pinterest and YouTube will both start recommending you MORE channels and boards like it. And you'll also fall down the research hole.

So, I think that's a good place to start! I'll be happy to do another post on more tips should anyone want them or have other questions relating to bullet journaling. 

Happy planning!


Saturday, May 27, 2017

NYC Things to Do

So, Blogbound, Book Expo, and Book Con start in just a few days, so a lot of my friends are converging on New York City. Here are a few helpful tips!

  • Download an MTA Subway app. There are even some (free) ones that'll let you know about delays that pop up. Mine is just called Subway and it's free and a little annoying because it always opens up in Brooklyn, but it's easy enough to navigate. There's even a 7 train station right by the Javits open now - the 7 line runs through Times Square and Grand Central for your convenience and the Javits is the last stop going west! On the other hand, be careful on weekends. The subway can be a nightmare on weekends.
  • Bring a portable charger. If you don't have one, get one - you can get them pretty cheaply. And bring a regular charger too, since there's always cafes with outlets you can stop in in the worst case scenario. 
  • There are the obvious places to stop - Strand, Books of Wonder, Shake Shack. But I also recommend Kinokuniya, which has books, stationary, and a comics/manga section on its three floors. There's also this bar I love - Duke's - which has really good Happy Hour deals and amazing desserts. I used to go to a location near Union Square, but that's closed, so the only other location is on 3rd Ave, between 37 and 38. I also love Big Daddy's Diner, which has multiple locations, and the Hollywood Diner - they're both your classic diner, though probably a bit more expensive than you're used to if you're not around NYC. Near the Javits, there's the Tick Tock Diner and the Skylight Diner. Both are on 34, but Skylight is on 9th Avenue and Tick Tock is on 8th Avenue.
  • Speaking of the Javits - I highly recommend skipping the overpriced options in their cafe. Instead, go to one of those diners or one of the food carts that surround the Javits. My plan is usually to stop into one of the Dunkin Donuts in between Penn Station and the Javits; there's three or four of them within a couple blocks of Javits and I can grab a bagel or two, which is easy to eat on the go and doesn't make much of a mess. So if your schedule is packed or you just don't know what your food schedule will be and don't want to pay the overpriced options, I'd recommend grabbing something along those lines and bringing it to Javits.
  • If you do go to the Strand, I highly recommend going downstairs - there's a few shelves of half off new books. A lot of their books are already half off, but this section is a LITTLE different.
  • It's going to be pretty warm in NYC next week and the rain will be pretty minimal, but always bring an umbrella and always bring a light sweater. There are frequently random thunderstorms in the summer that only last 20 minutes or so, but get pretty intense. And while outside will be comfortable, the subway and some places might be blasting the AC, so you might want a little extra something.
And that's all I've got on the top of my head, but feel free to ask questions!