Maybe you’re one of those people, who… even though we have moved beyond pen and paper for our everyday communications, there are some of us who linger over the notebook section in the bookstore (is it me, or is that section getting bigger and bigger?) and pick one to take home, start writing in it, and then…stop. And then another store. And then another notebook. And this time, it’ll be different.

It’s okay. You can tell me. I’m staring at my notebook collection, propped between the edge of my monitor and my SAD lamp, and there are five notebooks there: A Rhodia Web Notebook in black (lined,) a cheery yellow Scribbles that Matter A5, and three A5-sized Leuchtturm 1917’s: One black, one gray, and one in silver. (the silver one is still in the wrap, though. Does that count?)

I might have a problem.

journal collection

Last month I vowed I would do something about my notebook problem. I, like many notebook addicts, discovered by one means or another the Bulletjournal system made popular by Ryder Carrol, and thought, “This is it. This is what I’ve been looking for all along.”

So I ran out and bought the first Leuchtturm 1917 (the black one.) And I began it with all the best intentions. But I found that I made choices I wasn’t happy with later, so along came the new Leuchtturm, this time in gray, where I made a few commitments – 95% black ink, minimalist, simple. I began on Jan 01, promptly messed up my future log, spent time drawing a monthly spread and a weekly spread I NEVER used, and then dwindled off using it on Jan 12.

I tried again, and again, but it wasn’t working for me. And then I realized: I don’t need a planner. I need a log. My urge is to relate what I did, not anticipate what I would do. I’m depressed. I’m anxious. I probably have ADD and no one noticed when I was young. I have to have multiple reminders of appointments set to go off automatically at various intervals, or I will forget that I had a thing I needed to do. I am not a planner. I’m a recorder.

So, why not record what I did, to build a journaling habit?

That was it. I was onto something. I needed a quick logging system where I could track what I did each day, and even sneak in “oh yeah, you have to do this today” on the page to start building up planning habits. I wanted a format that was minimalist, intuitive, and attractive.

So I went with a time ladder. This is what it looks like, filled out:

time ladder may 27-28 2017

I actually started in May, but decided to take an entire month to try it out. I had a debate over the layout – should I write each day as it comes, with journal entries between, or do a solid block of daily ladders for the week, and then journal on the pages afterwards?

My tentative conclusion: a week’s worth of dailies all at once and journal entries after is the way to go for me. It organizes nicely in the index, though I now wish I had three ribbons so I could mark my monthly log, the current day, and the first open spot for journaling.

Update: SOLUTION! I used one of my index dots to mark the monthly spread, and then I can ribbon the other two!

I like it. I like using the full page to log my whole day. I like my black ink and block capital lettering. I like the journal entries in between, recording my thinking process about my book, which still doesn’t have a title. I might try to include a task list or something, once I’m solidly in the habit of logging my days.

Coming up in future entries: Meet my Commonplace Book and my Morning Pages.