Using Digital Tools with Pen and Paper
Tanni for Danceof Chaos
Bullet journaling is one of the best ways to organise your thoughts, document your life, track your health fitness or hobbies . It is a great tool for mental health, productivity, organisation, and creative expression.
Often we start journaling with good intentions, buy the supplies and then cannot keep up. It happens to the best of us. Then when we want to get back to it, the old system does not work for us and we feel frustrated. Something similar happened to me. When I got back again, I decided to choose hybrid journaling system going forward.
Hybrid Bullet Journaling System
What is mixed journaling system? There is no textbook definition for it. Generally, it means a mixture of pen and paper and digital journaling. People usually prefer to plan and journal everything using the same medium, either pen and paper or digital. The reason Bullet Journal is so popular is because of it’s flexibility. You can modify it anyway to suit your need. If you are a beginner or an expert, you can always begin and create a system that works for you.
And it means you can use a mix of digital apps like calendars, To-Do, Reminders and your pen and paper journal to organise your day. In this post, I have tried to compile a few journaling ideas that worked for me and how I bullet journal.
Simple Monthly Set up
Monthly Event Layout
I spent a large part of 2022 in my parental leave and I was tracking household chores and journaling my feelings to keep me sane. A minimalistic monthly set up was all I would do. I would print it out for the command centre of our house ( refrigerator) for us to check the appointments and fixed tracking.
Here is an example of a simple monthly set up. If you want to see the whole month in one space, a A4 sized paper or journal, followed by a B5 journal is best. That way, there is enough space to write everything down that needs to be tracked without cramping up the space. An A5 Journal could also work, if you use two pages side by side for one month layout. I have tried to experiment with different versions of monthly layout. The deciding factor was always the amount of time I had to think about the layout details.
Monthly Task and To Do List
Additionally, I used a pre printed paper planer for personal to-dos, self-care, gratitude journal etc. It is possible to use a pre-printed planner and still personalize it with a nice sticker or a bit of washi tape.
Layout of Trackers
Depending on the trackers that you need to use, you can use simple form of tracking directly in the monthly. That would save the page turning and matching hassle if you are going for minimal and functional layout. That has been my motto. You can also use weekly layout and place detailed weekly trackers. For tracking common expenses like ordering food in, cleaning, gym appointments, the trackers were placed in the layout itself.
For more personal tracking, like food journal, sleep and water intake, I switched between digital and pen and paper.
I read a lot of books digitally and used Kindle for my reading insights. Since I don’t like wearing fitness tracker to sleep, sleep tracking is done mostly on paper. It is easier for me to track what I eat on paper than adding them to digital apps. Additionally, it was easier to share with my nutritionist when I wrote them down.
Digital Calendars and ToDo
Now I am working full-time and I do not have time to write down chores and track them. I spend a majority of my day with my work computer and digital apps and I have slid back to using a lot of digital tools again. I also have to plan and synchronise with Chris a lot more : work, personal meetings, day-care, baby-sitter, cleaning lady. The list is endless. Digital calendars like google, outlook really help here.
With just a click, schedules can be colour coded, recurring meetings can be set. We set up a common calendar for us to synchronise the schedules. I also love the Microsoft 365 products. Their ToDo List is fantastic and can be shared. I use a lot of One-Note, toDo to take care of my tasks at work and do the same at home.
Pen and Paper minimal layout
I personally feel I am always in an ON mode if I only use digital tools. There is something very calming and focussing about putting thoughts and plans on pen and paper. The beautiful spreads on social media may let you think that spreads on paper cannot be functional but they can be. My monthly set up is now a simple monthly tracker and weekly toDo. You can chose to decorate it with sticker and washi or use colourful pens to colour code them. You can just keep it black and white and it still will work. I have shared by simple and functional december layout in the Youtube Link above.
A big part of journaling is writing about your day to day or maintain a dairy. Those who like to write a lot, one line a day does not always help. Some people also prefer to separate their todo and tasks with daily journal where they will share their emotions, feelings and deepest thoughts.
I am one of those people. I maintain a separate dairy where I try to write as much as is possible about my day to day, detailing my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. There cannot be a digital equivalent for that for me.
In conclusion, journaling is your tool to help you with your life. It can be to be more productive, to coalesce your thought, to track your habits and incorporate change in them. The most important part of it is doing it. It does not always have to be pretty and artistic if you are not creative person. It does not have to be pen and paper. It does not have to be all digital. It should function for you. If you are still undecided on what to do, consider the journaling tips for beginners in this post and take your leap. Choose your own methods and start today.
You can always look into the nice products we have on offer in our shop, where we have chosen some nice notebook and stationery to help you take the first step.