This article is a first draft and needs review + editing. This is not its final incarnation
I recently treated myself to a dotted notebook to use as a ‘Bullet Journal’. It was my girlfriend who introduced me to the concept, and while I was skeptical, the book was cheap and the idea intriguing.
I’ve always struggled with self-driven routine. I have learnt that I enthusiastically throw myself into going to the gym, keeping a diary, going rock-climbing - but I never keep it up for longer than a few months. I’ve taught myself to not even bother starting, as I can save the expense and the guilt.
The concept within a bullet journal has changed all that. No longer am I beholden to the shame of returning to a diary 40 days after my last entry. There will be no blank pages as proof, and the design of the journal is such that the content is transient, momentary organizations.
So sure, I can now keep my calender a bit more organized, but the ethos that the journal starts follows through to your other pages. I don’t have to start a separate notebook if I want to do some finance calculations, or shopping lists. I’ll just stick it after my previous page. Before I’d start subdividing my notebooks ad infinitum, until I sections started clashing into each other.
The whole concept emphasizes pressureless contribution. One of the other ‘spreads’ I have is a monthly tracker, and this is mostly my own twist, but instead of logging exactly how much I have done and intensely pushing it, I simply put some arrows that show my improvement/slip. The rate or absolute number of gym visits doesn’t matter, what matters is that I am improving, or stabilizing from before. I’m not out to get personal bests on the weights machine, I’m there to improve myself.
The blankness of the journal really allows a great degree of freedom and creativity with the book. I’m sure others find different parts of it useful, but for me that power of all-in pressure-free logging is revolutionary.
When I was actively maintaining a blog, I initially was schedule-less. I set it up with a clear vision to not enforce posting regularly, but I still found that I felt guilty if I hadn’t posted in a while. This problem exasperated itself when I decided to try reviewing content. Slowly, my blog was slipping from a hobby into a side job. I had been generously given content to review, free of charge, and I wasn’t repaying them with timeliness. Note, that this expectation was entirely of my own design. Many of my posts were gaining serious tracking, people were starting to expect more quality posts, I couldn’t keep it up forever.
This new ‘front-page’ or ‘gallery’ style website gives me some freedom in that the posts are something to display, rather than to consume. I can feel happy leaving my essays for months, or even years without an update. To enhance this, I’ve considered stripping the essays of the date tag. Seeing how long it’s been can be anxiety inducing and harks back to the blogging paradigms.
I still maintain one of my blogs from that period. One where I catalogued my coding / project ideas. This catalogue format, or rather a reference for when I am out of ideas, just needs to have some base content to be useful and timing is non-essential. This is the primary reason why it remains. And I want this to be like that, something to refer to as interesting content. No fluff pieces for the sake of continuity, no obligatory reviews or half-hearted pieces. If something is written there, it’s important, at least to me.
As someone I admired once said when quitting his job, “I am a round peg in a company full of square holes”, I am not someone who fits exactly into careful constructed lines. I don’t know that the majority of the population could be. Humans are a natural source of variance. Look at the ongoing issues of race, gender and sexuality - society increasingly moves towards labelling and placement into boxes. Rather than continue towards that unachievable goal of perfect classification, we should embrace the fuzzy logic that we are built on.