Have you seen all the posts and pins about bullet journals? These journals are the newest system for planning and reflecting all in one, and they are everywhere I look on the internet. Some of them are colorful and well-organized, while others are even quite artistic, and I must admit they have caught my eye. For months I have been on the sidelines, merely looking at other people’s journals but not really keeping one of my own. I mean really, do I need a lovely decorated page in a notebook to tell me that on Monday I’m going to roast two chickens, do a load of laundry, and pay the bills? The simple answer is, no I do not. All of these things are foregone conclusions, and I will probably get them done whether I write them down or not. I guess I’m just not much of a planner, and there’s really not that much going on in my life that I need to plan. I think that really, I am just too boring to keep a bullet journal.
I may or may not be boring, but regardless, the siren call of the internet is too hard to resist, and so I have started a new journal. I don’t think what I have started can truly be called a bullet journal because I am terrible at following anyone else’s directions for doing pretty much anything. (I rarely follow lesson plans when I teach or recipes when I cook.) I prefer to think of my new notebook as “bullet journal inspired.” It’s basically a place to keep anything I need to record, complete with a handy index.
I’ve been using my journal as a calendar and a place for things like the boys’ spelling lists since January, but this month I’m adding another element that I call my “Daily Pages.” I have a place to list tasks (like roasting the chickens), a place to keep track of my anxiety triggers, a place to keep track of joys and thanksgivings, and a place for general reflection. These four items cover a two-page spread each day. In the end, I don’t think the question will be whether I need to remind myself in writing to roast the chickens, but rather whether writing about my day helps me to be more intentional and fulfilled, or whether it instead makes me hopelessly narcissistic.
It’s too soon to answer that question, but I do know what is helpful: making the “Daily Pages” my habit for April is helping me to actually get them done. Thomas and Jack are completing the “Daily Pages” habit with me. This is the second month we have worked on a habit together. There are numerous books on habit out there, but I read (most of) this short little volume from Charlotte Mason and decided to give it at try. During the month of March we worked on the habit of cleaning up after ourselves. Our efforts made me wonder if Charlotte Mason ever encountered boys like mine, but in the end I think we did get a little neater! The April “Daily Pages” habit has been somewhat easier to enforce.
The boys’ pages are different from mine. On one side of their two page spread they have a task/assignment list written by me that they need to follow. On the other side, they are to write a paragraph about the events of their day. I am hoping this will help us incorporate a little more structure and accountability in our home school days. My inspiration for their “Daily Pages” came from this post on spiral notebooks, and also from this article about Montessori journals for elementary students. I have long aspired to follow the Montessori principle of “freedom with responsibility,” but this is not always easy to do. We did try to follow the Montessori idea of recording times and activities completed in list fashion, but it did not work for us because our loosely structured home school day does not really have a definite beginning or end. If my kids are “learning all the time,” it would follow that they would be listing activities all day long, and that gets a bit tedious. Instead, we’re just catching the highlights with a paragraph at the end of the day. So far, our combination of task list and summary paragraph seems to be working well.
We’ll keep up our “Daily Pages” habit for the month of April and see how it goes. If we really like it, I may report back with an update. For now, I can check “blog post” off my daily task list. The next thing on my list is the laundry….