The Journal (3)

We are now going to set up our journal. Here I use techniques from the classic bullet journal, i.e. an index, future log, weekly log and daily log. In addition, there is the exercise journal, various book lists (or DVDs that need to be watched), reference lists for internet resources, and the so-called “think cards” (more later).

The main purpose of a bullet journal is to get and keep an overview of personal goals. Many people also use it as a combination of calendar and to-do list. For us, however, it is also about recording new ideas and concepts. So we will design our logbook a little differently, tailored to its functions as an orientation aid and personalised brain dump.

There is a flood of blogs, YouTube videos and other resources on the internet about bullet journaling. It has really become a trend, and as with all trends, there are people who exaggerate everything. This is also the case with the design of a bullet journal. The real purpose of such a journal often fades into the background and the various pens and washi tapes are more important. That’s why you would do well to type “minimalist bullet journal” into your internet search.

All you need to keep a bullet journal is a notebook and a pencil. So don’t get too impressed and distracted by the sometimes highly artistic journals you find on the internet.

And you don’t have to use all the features that can be included in a bullet journal. At least not at the beginning. Most and most important things will come up or develop in the course of keeping the journal anyway. So just start and implement only the first rudimentary things in your logbook. The rest will come automatically over time, and no two logbooks are the same. You have to feel comfortable with it, everything else is rubbish.

I suggest you include the following to start with:

1. Index
2. Future log
3. Weekly log
4. Daily log
5. Book list/media list
6. Resources (internet, shops, companies)
7. Think cards
8. Possibly a calendar

1. Index
These are three or four pages at the very beginning of the journal and are used to navigate your logbook. It contains the keywords and where to find them. The index is an important orientation in your logbook when you are looking for something. In the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, a few pages are even pre-printed. You simply write the title and the page number there, one after the other, when you have finished a new entry.

You can make the table of contents as detailed as you like. But I would not go into several sub-levels, so I limit myself to the title or a keyword. I use other means of navigation in the logbook (page markers, bookmarks), and the brain does the rest. You will be amazed at how well you remember where you noted something! This is one of the outstanding qualities of our brain, and a task that comes easily to it. In addition, you use the short symbols, and it is very easy to orientate yourself by these when browsing and searching.

2. Future log
This is an overview of your learning content. Here you collect your wishes, goals and long-term tasks. You can divide this into months (e.g. six months on a double page), or into 3-month blocks, or half-year blocks, whatever you want. Don’t make it too complicated, and be realistic in setting your goals!

3. Weekly log
This is a weekly log, and it helps you to distribute your tasks and training sessions over the week. Basically, a simple page on which you draw seven divisions, one for each day of the week, like a calendar, is enough. This is also a good place for to-do lists, so you have an overview of your magical tasks and don’t get bogged down. Again, don’t make it too complicated and don’t overload yourself with too many tasks that will eventually bring you to your knees and make you resign. Less is more!

4. Daily log
This is where you put all the ideas and thoughts you come up with during the day. This is also the home of your exercise journal. It is important that you date each day, because without the date it is impossible to trace the origin of an idea later. In contrast to many calendars that offer you only a limited amount of page space for each day, you proceed differently here. For example, you start on a new page. The first thing you write is the date. Then, during the day, or in the evening (as it comes), you write your ideas and thoughts, collect references and sources, and so on. So simple. At the end of the day, you draw a line under it and the following space is reserved for the next day. This gives you all the possibilities to create a flexible Daily Log, because there will be days when a lot comes up, and then there will be days when there is “mental calm”. A system with fixed blank spaces creates ugly blank pages in the logbook and narrows it down.

5. Book list/media list
I have always kept 10 double pages at the end of the logbook for my literature list. Of course, this can vary depending on how much you work with books. This is where you put all the books you read, want to read, or have read. I assume that you use bookmarks and markers when you read, so that you can find the relevant ideas immediately when you pick up the book.

6. Resources (internet, shops, companies)
This is where you put interesting internet links, references to DVDs and resources (retailers, crafters, etc.). I have also placed this list at the end of the logbook, as you will probably access it often.

7. Think cards
I’ll go into this topic separately in a later article, because it’s a profound concept that can speed up your learning extremely. But I can tell you this much: these are simple flashcards, but they are used in a very specific way.

8. Calendar
I use a calendar template from the internet, which I print out and stick in my logbook. I have a six-month overview. The calendar is on the inside cover of my book, so I can refer to it very quickly if I need to.

Perhaps one more important point. I don’t usually use the calendar in the way you would use a calendar. I divide my overviews, tasks and exercises into a 7-day format. Especially when practising, I have found that this seven-day period works wonderfully and realistically for me. It also takes the pressure off me that a calendar can create, and seven days are easy to keep track of.

So if I want to practise a new technique, for example, I approach the “new technique project” in seven-day units, regardless of the calendar.

And with that, we are already done with the rudimentary set-up of the logbook. In a future article I will eventually explain the visual design and give you a few tips on how you can create an attractive logbook even without special drawing skills.