Untidy Towns

Daily Life Record-Keeping


I’ve been on a search for a way to keep records of my daily life (the boring stuff, mainly) for quite a while. I’ve tried normal journaling but that doesn’t quite hit the heart of the desire. When I write a journal entry, it’s about something I want to write about. I feel an impulse and then I sit down and write until the thought is out. That’s not a good representation of my day and it doesn’t in any sense help me understand what I was doing during the ‘in between’ times. In between events, I mean. I don’t remember much about my life, but I can look at a photograph or read a journal entry and remember; the problem is that most of those entries and photos are either big events or tiny, meaningful ideas.

I started a fake Filofax-like binder a while ago thinking I’d track incoming/outgoing mail, video game play, notes & ideas, daily events, etc. and so on. It’s more or less only been used as a glorified address book, meaning I only consult it when I need to look up someone’s address. I created the whole thing with dividers and all, but I never started using it.

Since January this year, I’ve been using a weekly planner/journal that I got off a Kickstarter. The idea of this was to make notes of what I did that day (or week), rather than using it as an actual planner. I’m not all that good with planners in the way that other people use them, but like I said, I’m still really keen on finding something that will help me keep track of my boring, day-to-day life. Most of my life is spent ‘in between,’ because I am an in between person. I prefer a lot of quiet solitude, which sometimes means I’m doing events alone but mostly means I’m spending a lot of time accomplishing crafty/writing ideas or reading. I don’t always share them because I don’t share my life that much.

This leaves me in a position where I have no idea what I was doing 10 years ago. I don’t care that much, but as someone who lives with mental illness sometimes I wish I could look up that information somewhere, watch a video of myself, see what I was thinking and feeling and learning. I wish I could compare my day-to-day lifestyle then with what I’m doing now. I want to see if there has been any improvement, or if I’m worrying about all the same things, sitting with all the same insecurities. I want to know how much I’ve grown in terms of having ideas and actually achieving them. As far as I’m concerned, younger me didn’t actually do anything, because I don’t have any tangible evidence of anything having been done. I bet you younger me did do things, she just didn’t keep them around.

In ten years I’ll probably want to know what I’ve been doing now. Maybe not. I don’t know.

So I decided to start a bullet journal, or something inspired by it.

I do actually use the planner and by using it, I’ve picked up on other habits like making checklists of things to do, keeping track of events both meaningful and not. Today’s entry just says stitches out because I was supposed to get stitches taken out; future me will probably know what this means because the last week has been an adventure. I don’t need a picture of my mouth or my face or my stitches or the doctor who is removing the stitches, just a few words here and there. Likewise, I don’t need a calendar that tells me all the things I want to do, nor do I need a formalized to-do list or a complex system for keeping track of those things. I just need somewhere to put them and some way to carry them over when I don’t get them done. I need a place to stuff flat souvenirs and business cards.

Plus, since my memory sucks it’ll be nice to have a place to track miscellaneous life things, like medicine refills and television shows watched. And there’s the opportunity to get a little creative. Many bullet journals are beautiful, and although mine won’t match those I can at least make it look more neat than a planner that’s already been laid out for me. Total personalization; I only include what I need.

I wanted to write about this because I want to check back 6 months after I begin to see if the purpose or format has changed, or otherwise to get a sense of whether or not this is helping me keep track/be more organized.

I am joking to myself by calling this the bullet journal for people with mental health issues because I don’t have pages and pages of life goals nor do I require keeping track of lots of events. I have a savings page but I’ve never been good with goals like that, so it’ll realistically never be used. Mostly I’m tracking the bare essentials in an attempt to keep track of normal everyday stuff that most people don’t have issues keeping in their minds. In the future, if I find this helpful for personal purposes, I might want to expand and create one for school and/or work, and for Busy Weekends.