Digital Bullet Journaling With Microsoft OneNote


I've always loved journaling in various forms - I've had written journals, digital journals. I've used apps. I've started and quit more times than I can count. And over the years I've occasionally fallen in love with planners too, but I've never been able to find just the right one for me. There was always something in it that I didn't need or want or couldn't use, and there was always something I did need or sort-of wished for that wasn't there. One planner or journal system might have one thing I needed, while another had other things, and it took me a long time to stumble on just the right style for me.

A few years ago, I found bullet journaling and I fell in love. Bullet journals are like the three-way love-child of a planner, a journal, and a list-keeper - they're a great way to keep everything organized while also allowing the freedom to change and adapt as needed, with or without added creative elements.

My first bullet journal was a grid-lined composition book personalized (and reinforced) with a pretty pink duct tape wrapped cover. Inside it, I poured out my plans and dreams, took time to express myself honestly, kept track of scheduling, writing, and other things. I wrote funny things the kids said, and sometimes I even added drawings or stickers as decorative elements. I loved it. I looked forward to spending time in it, thrived on the ritual of setting up my pencils, making myself a drink, and sitting down to unload. But just like every other thing I tried, it had certain ... flaws.
  1. It wasn't that portable because I was afraid of forgetting it somewhere.
  2. It wasn't protected because it was just a notebook. No lock, no password, no security. It didn't feel as private as I would have liked, even as I was writing it with the idea that one day I would be gone and my daughters might read it as a way to know another side of me.
  3. It wasn't safe. It was paper. What if I spilled my coffee on it? What if I lost it? All that time spent on drawings and notes and storing memories ... it would just be gone.
  4. It wasn't fixable. If I messed something up, I could try to cover it, try to camouflage it, but I couldn't fix it. I couldn't make it clean again, couldn't make it look the way I wanted.
  5. Eye strain. Since I do so much of my writing and spend so much of my time online or otherwise digital, staring at paper (especially the grid-lined paper I wanted so as to be able to create pretty spreads with straight lines) got really hard on my eyes after even a short while. Everything would blur together and I started feeling like there wasn't enough light on the paper, no matter how bright the room was.

Digital journaling with OneNote addresses all those concerns perfectly; not only is it much more portable, but it's also easily accessible from my phone, my tablet, my laptop, or even someone else's device or computer. It is password protected, which means it's as secure as it can be, and it's safe from spills because it's stored on the cloud (as well as backed up elsewhere). It's also fixable. Mistakes are erased with the touch of a button, changes can be made easily, layouts can be shifted, adjusted, or added to, and I will never ever run out of pages.

Also, I can adjust the brightness of my screen, zoom in or out, and otherwise play around with my setup until it's accessible enough to meet my needs and demands - and I like that everything is still totally free and open to my own interpretation of what a bullet journal is and can be. I can be artistic, or not. I can write a little, or a lot. I can skip a day, or write all day long. Add pages, move them, copy them with a click. Or delete them when they're no longer needed.

It's perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Which is why I'm going to share how I figured it out, the way I'm choosing to implement my system, the impact it's having on my focus and productivity, and the daily spread I've been absolutely in love with all week long.

In my next post. 

Now, how's that for a cliffhanger?


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