Digital BuJo: The Set-Up

In my last post, I was super excited to share a little of the process of how I fell in love with bullet journaling, and how I ended up taking it digital to make it fit more easily into my life as a single mom with chronic disabling illness and two kids with chronic health problems of their own, as well as my workflow as a lifestyle blogger and romance novelist. I've shared a lot over the years about how I try to stay productive despite my PTSD symptoms using strategies like habit-stacking, routine-building, goal-setting, and the Pomodoro technique - but as my other health problems continue to worsen without much hope for relief, I've been really focused in the last few months on learning to accept my life as what is often referred to as a "spoonie."

Still, sometimes all the things I have to keep track of on a daily basis can get overwhelming. Between my two girls and I, there are 18 doctors, some of which are shared by multiple people. There are 22 prescriptions, all of which I am in charge of keeping filled, stored, organized, and properly dosed multiple times a day. And on top of that, I have my own goals and wishes and dreams, my own writing schedule I try to follow, and the tasks of daily living that are often physically taxing if not outright against my doctor's orders ("no lifting over 10 lbs, no prolonged sitting or standing, no bending, stooping, or twisting, no straining or strenuous motion, and nothing that increases g-forces in and around the spine and brain").

I need a way to keep track of it all, a way to keep things organized as best I can - and a safe place to write out my fears and desires, my struggles, my emotions. I need a place to plan and process, a place to grow and grieve. A place of my own that cannot be taken away, criticized, altered, or misunderstood. Which is why I originally fell so in love with the concept of what a bullet journal is - until the inherent limitations of an analog journal in a digital world made it so unfitting for my current stage of life.

When I first saw this video though, it all clicked. It looked suddenly simple in a way that it hadn't before, even though I had actually tried bullet journaling with OneNote previously. From that first video on how to set up a OneNote bullet journal, I ended up watching this one about how to use digital photos and other digital art in a OneNote notebook while maintaining the look and feel of old-school analog scrapbooking and scrap-journaling. That opened a lot of door in my mind, and the more videos I watched on the topic, the more excited I got. Then I found this one, and there was no turning back.

From there, I started playing around in my mind, thinking about what I might want as I tried again to start a bullet journal, this time armed with a few new tips and tricks on how best to utilize my chosen app. I began, as most bullet journalers do, with a simple, two-column index utilizing tables to keep track of dated journal pages and collections.

As you can see in the photo above, my index has calendars for each month, with each date being a link to the corresponding page in my notebook. A table of contents, but beautifully organized, easy to use and adjust, and without the hassle of keeping numbered pages. At the end of each month, I'll also be adding links to my Monthly Memory Saver, which has space to note each date and day, the weather that day, and something that made me smile that day. For fun, I've also added the second column of boxes, where I'll note songs I loved that month various favorite things, and how my book sales were that month.

Since I started this journal after missing the first several days of August, I won't be including a monthly roundup for August, but I'm really looking forward to spending September filling out the first of these pages! In the meantime, I've been having fun every day making time throughout the day to fill in my customized, mental-health-focused daily spread:

On this spread I've got space to choose a bible verse to meditate on that day, space to include tasks and appointments, space for emotion-centered journaling, and of course, plenty of room for traditional rapid-logging, complete with a bullet-journal symbol key. This has been an amazing resource for me, not only because it's a great way to keep track of how I'm doing and what I'm doing, but also because it's portable (I can use it on my phone, tablet, computer, whatever) and it's searchable, which means I can search for keywords, symbols, names, whatever - and OneNote will take me to a list of possible results.

Much better than having to flip through a traditional notebook, especially if you're like me and you plan to actively use your journal both for fun and productivity. I've even created a Year In Pixels page, which I won't be filling out this year but am looking forward to starting in 2019.

But perhaps the biggest joy I've taken so far in this digital bullet journaling this is the idea that I can create stickers pretty easily just by downloading royalty-free .png images and then inserting them into my notebooks. 

Yeah, so I'm sure you can tell how totally in love I am with my journal now, huh? It's still growing though, as I adapt to it and adjust the ways I want to use it. I have a feeling I'll be adding and removing elements here and there, and I'll probably share some of my collections and stuff along the way too.

But first, tell me something: Would you guys be interested in seeing some Plan With Me posts here? I don't know if I'll be doing a lot of planner-style spreads, but I would be totally willing to share more about how I'm using this journal to keep things organized. I'd also love to see how you guys journal in the comments below - do you prefer digital or analog? Do you use a planner? And if you bullet journal, what kinds of things do you include in your spreads?

If you liked this post, drop a comment below - I'd love your feedback, as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me connect with new readers and bring new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish! Be sure you check out my quarterly giveaway page, too - there are several free and easy ways to enter - and members of the Undaunted Army are always eligible for extra entries!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Enlist as an Undaunted Army Private for free, or invest in the growing impact of the Army with an Undaunted Army Officer Commission for as little as $1 a month. And now, you can wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.