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Thursday, February 02, 2023

Let me write that down...

This past summer, I started bullet journaling after a friend shared how it had helped keep her organized while using her creative skills. Well, really, it all started when she showed me her sticker collection. Prior to that I had dismissed the idea of bullet journaling because 'I didn't need another hobby.' As a long-time Lisa Frank fan and sticker collector (I still have my sticker album from childhood), talk of 'stickers' instantly piqued my interest. I tumbled into the bullet journaling rabbit hole.

An Archer & Olive journal opened up to a monthly recap page for September.
One of my Archer & Olive monthly recap layouts.

For those who are not familiar with bullet journaling, it's essentially a glorified planner or decorated notebook where you can write lists, keep notes, track activities... it can really take any shape that you want. I first started with an Archer and Olive bullet journal because that's what my friend used. It's a dot grid notebook on heavy paper that allows you to draw, paint or color, sticker, tear pages or layer designs, etc. It's a blank canvas that you can use to express yourself in any ways possible. I'll admit, that this was a daunting thought. I have never considered paper crafts to be a strong point, but surfing Pinterest made me think this could be a hobby for anyone.

A two page layout with illustrations of bins and houseplants on shelves. Bins have text indicating yarn and projects I'm working on.
A journal spread I made to track yarn projects.

After filling a couple of journals over the course of a few months, I realized this was definitely an outlet I could get behind. I also started to follow more vendors in the bullet journaling space and realized how many options were out there in terms of notebooks, labels, layouts, stickers, and more. I made a big shift at the end of 2022 away from Archer and Olive and in to the more structured space of the Hobonichi planners. Hobonichi planners are Japanese made planners that use an ultra thin paper (Tomoe River paper), and has a few layouts that can include daily, weekly, and/or monthly layouts. I went with the Hobonichi Techo Cousin Avec. That's a mouthful. What it breaks down to is two six-month planners that include monthly, weekly, and daily formats. While I'd prefer to have a 12 month planner, the divided planner helps to account for the fact that it can get pretty bulky, especially if you're loading it with additional materials like stickers. I would like to be able to carry my journal when I'm working or if I'm planning something like as part of a kids school activity, so I went with the broken down version.

Two pages in my Hobonichi in the weekly layout section. Various stickers and text indicating activities for the week.
An example weekly spread in my Hobonichi Cousin Techo planner.

So far I have been thrilled with the Hobonichi format. I love having the planner functionality with the structure of a calendar, but also the daily pages to write events, notes, or any other thoughts from my day. My sticker collection has also grown immensely, with some of my favorite independent sticker makers being:

The Coffee Monster Co.
Once More with Love
Every Minute a Story
Moody Cats Design Co
Shine Sticker Studios

Two daily pages in my Hobonichi planner with stickers and text.
An example of my daily layout and sticker usage in my Hobonichi Cousin Techo.

There are honestly so many more, but I tend to order from those the most.

A pink, full Archer & Olive planner next to a covered Hobonichi Techo Cousin planner.
Archer & Olive journal on the left, vs the 6 month Hobonichi with a cover on the right.

This has then created the issue of sticker storage, of which I've tried a few different solutions. So far, a hinged ArtBin case with dividers has proven the easiest to use and navigate. Before that I had been using a binder with protected sheets, but I was constantly running short on space and it was spreading over multiple binders. At the moment, I can contain everything within my one case with room to grow. Thankfully, I use a lot of stickers daily, too, so I have been good at using my collection. It's not a necessity, but I find the act of daily journaling and my weekly planning to be a grounding part of my day. When I'm feeling overwhelmed, I can take a moment and see what I've already captured, or what I might want to write down or doodle about to refocus and gather my thoughts.

A plastic storage bin with handle and lid. Dividers labeling various sticker categories with sorted sticker sheets.
My ArtBin case with a hinged lid and dividers that I made on my Silhouette.

I also didn't make a complete transition away from my original journals. I still use my Archer & Olive notebooks for my work notes. The simplistic design has made it easy to capture my tasks and meeting notes daily. Sometimes I'll throw a sticker in my work notebooks, but usually, I keep it pretty concise.

My journaling has gone so far as to get me to sign up for a planner conference in March. I'll be going with my OG journal friend to the Go Wild conference in DC. I don't know quite what to expect, but I can't wait to meet with other journal-obsessed individuals, and I've heard the swag and parties are amazing. I'll definitely post about it afterwards... well, if anything I will journal about it.

Image of the purple GoWild attendee box with a crochet llama beside it. Pens in GoWild colors sit on a journal on the table in front of it.
My Go Wild attendee kit and a llama I made for the Go Wild theme.

Are you into journaling or collecting stickers? Share your favorite vendors. If you aren't, would you give it a go or does another solution work for you?

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