This is a long-promised post, so I really hope it helps out those of you who are already bujo fans, or if you’re interested in starting your first bullet journal. I’m going to tell you about bullet journaling, why bullet journaling is a useful practice for dancers, how I use my bullet journal, and give you some ideas and inspiration for starting or adding to your own!
What is bullet journaling?
Before bullet journaling became really popular, and before all of the wonderful artistic spreads you see on Instagram and Pinterest, it was actually just a very simple, functional method of journaling. It essentially involves planning out your own journal, which gives you maximum flexibility in what you want to track and record, and how you want to do it. Originally, the idea was to use simple symbols to keep on top of all of your tasks. You can read all about what bullet journaling is, and how to use the basic system, in this wonderful guide by Tiny Ray of Sunshine.
In recent years, however, bullet journaling has evolved into something far more elaborate and creative. Now, don’t think that to use a bullet journal you need to be artistic and have each page beautifully decorated. You can stick to the basic approach outlined in the link above, and add as much or as little extra information and decoration as is useful and pleasing to you.
Nowadays, most people use bullet journals to track their habits and their mood, as well as other things like sleep and water intake, to plan their meals and exercise, to list places they want to go and things they want to do, to record restaurants they’ve eaten at and books they’ve read- as well as using it as a normal diary to plan each day, week and month. The only limit is your imagination. In fact, you don’t even need to use the system of assigning symbols to tasks to keep on top of things. It works great for many people, and that’s where it all started, but there aren’t any rules. Do what works for you- I don’t use symbols in my journal at all. You could argue that without the bullet-point system it isn’t really a bullet journal, but to be honest, I don’t think that really matters! You do you.
Why is bullet journaling a good idea for dancers?
I find bullet journaling especially useful as a dancer because of its flexibility. With a bullet journal, you can choose exactly what you want to keep record of, and do it all in one place. You don’t need to keep a diary for your important dates, competitions, exams, physiotherapy appointments, etc., plus a separate notebook for your class notes, plus a food and exercise diary to track your health and fitness- you can do it all, plus anything else you want to record, in one journal, in a way that pleases you.
What are the limitations of bullet journaling?
I sing the praises of bullet journaling a lot because I enjoy it and it works for me. There are a couple of drawbacks though- firstly, you do have to create everything yourself. Even if you choose a very simple layout, there is still a significant time commitment compared to other kinds of journaling, as you need to set up all of the pages in advance. It can also be time-consuming in an ongoing way, if you choose to plan out your days and weeks, because again each of these need to be set out yourself.
The other potential drawback is that you might feel pressured to get it perfect. There’s a huge online movement for bullet journaling that focuses on beautifully curated, creative spreads full of wonderful hand-drawings, calligraphy and scrapbooking techniques. I’m a creative person, but I imagine that for those who are less creatively-inclined, looking at the blank page and deciding what to do with it might be overwhelming. However, your journal doesn’t need to be as fancy as that, and I encourage you not to be afraid of messing up a page so much that you don’t even start! The only criteria is that it’s useful and enjoyable to you.
Top tip: If your page goes all wrong and you mess it up and want to start again, you can just tear it out, or you can stick the two pages together, or stick a piece of coloured paper over the page you messed up and start again on top! If you tear it out or stick the pages together and you’ve already numbered the pages (if you choose to number them) just make a note in the index to account for the missing page numbers.
My Bullet Journal
So now you know a bit more about bullet journaling, I’m going to share my bullet journal with you and how I like to use it.
The notebook I’m currently using is the one much favoured by bullet journalers everywhere, the Leuchtturm 1917 with dotted paper. This notebook has pre-numbered pages and an index, which saves you setting one up (although if you rip a page out, the numbers will be messed up!) and the paper is nice, although it’s not the thickest I’ve used, something to keep in mind if you enjoy working with a lot of ink. It comes in a really pleasing variety of colours. I’m using a raspberry-coloured one this year.
You can use any notebook for your bullet journal. I’ve used lined paper, plain paper, dotted paper, squared paper, and a notebook with removable pages, all of which had different benefits. Dots are preferred by many because they provide a guide to write on, without getting in the way as much as lines or squares when you want to draw or be creative with layouts.
These are the pages in my current journal:
My Ballet Technique Goals
These are more specific goals just for my ballet technique, for example “ronde de jambe en l’air on demi-pointe in the centre”, and I have a space next to them in which to write the date I achieved that goal. I personally like to keep a long list of many very specific goals, and at the end of the year I transfer a lot of them to my new journal because the list is far longer than what is achievable in one year. However if you prefer, you can choose to focus on a few goals that you want to achieve this year.
2019 Travel Wishlist
Places I Want to Go
Places I’ve Been
Books I’ve Read in 2019
Year in Pixel
This is a mood tracker which I didn’t invent, I copied it from a photo I found online. It’s a really useful tool, but I do forget to fill it in a lot of the time!
My Nutrition & Eating Plan, and Dance Nutrition Notes
This includes my timetable, schedules for each week which I stick in, and then, the bulk of my journal, class notes and corrections from all of my classes. My teacher gives loads of detailed corrections, and I consider it very important practice to make note of them, so there are pages and pages of these notes!
This is all of the pages I have in my current journal, but I am going to add more. I want to add in a habit tracker for all of the good habits I am trying to include in my daily life (including meditation, drinking 3L of water per day, stretches, conditioning exercises, feet exercises, taking my make-up off before bed, etc.). I also want to add a deliberate practice tracker. I will probably also add more one-off lists and pages like those above. The next one I’m planning is a page of tips I’ve found about how to pick up choreography quickly (something I’m trying to work on!).
One thing that differentiates my bullet journal from most people’s is that I don’t use it to plan out days, weeks and months. I use my MiGoals 2019 planner for that. I used to use my bullet journal for everything, however I found I didn’t always have the time to set up a new weekly spread every week, or to plan far enough in advance to have all of the spaces ready to write down important dates. I much prefer having a simple diary in which to write important dates, appointments, birthdays, reminders, university assignments, etc. because I can write things down straight away so that they don’t get forgotten! This is the important thing about choosing how you use your journal to benefit you most: don’t worry about what other people are doing. By all means get some inspiration, but it has to be functional to you, otherwise it could be a waste of your valuable time.
I do, however, have some pages saved from last year, when I was using my bullet journal to plan out each week, so I’ll share them to give you some ideas for layouts you could use.
Ideas for Pages
Sometimes the hardest thing with getting your journal started is deciding what to include in it. There are lots of good ideas on Instagram and Pinterest in particular, so I recommend taking a look at those. However, I decided to create a list of ideas for bullet journal pages just for dancers. I hope that it can give you some inspiration!
- Goal-setting pages
- Goal Grid: a page divided into squares, and in each square is written one specific action you can take at any time to progress towards your goals. When you’ve taken the action, colour in the square. It’s a very effective method of goal management: I wrote a post about it that you can read here.
- Mood tracker
- Self-Care Tips & Ideas
- Dates of performances, exams, competitions, etc.
- Physiotherapy Notes
- Corrections from Class
- Choreography Notes
- Inspiration Log
- Inspirational Collage
- Meal Planning & Shopping Lists
- List of What to Pack for Competitions, Performances, for class, etc.
- Performances I’ve Been To
- Ballets I’ve Watched
- Roles I’ve Danced
- Dance Performances I Want to See This Year
- My Dream Roles
- Stretching Routine
- Conditioning Routine
- Cross-Training Regime
- My Morning Routine
- My Evening Routine
- My Pre/ Post Performance Routine
- Technique Tips
- Dance Hacks
- Deliberate Practice Tracker
- Habit Tracker
- Water Intake
- Food & Mood/ symptom/ energy Diary
- Sleep Log
- Pointe Shoe Notes (for people who are experimenting with different brands of pointe shoes to find their best fit)
That’s about it for this Guide to Bullet Journaling for Dancers. I hope that you found some useful information and some inspiration in this post! I’d love if you could share pictures of your own bullet journal- you can find me on Instagram and Twitter @daretodanceblog, or on Facebook.