I’ve said before that I’m no journaler. But list writer? Yes. Goal writer-downer? Definitely. Resolutions? Not-for-the-New-Year-only. Does the start of a new school year get me hankering to buy a fresh new notebook, just because? Yes it does.
I do most of my writing on the computer, but when it comes to the sweet satisfaction of crossing something off a list, I really get the appeal of putting pencil to paper.
Enter dot journaling. No worries if you’re not familiar. I wasn’t either. But as it turns out, dot journaling isn’t much different than the kind of low-key record keeping I’ve been doing for years. I have a small stack of filled-in Moleskin weekly planners inside the box where I keep other papery keepsakes like my wedding invitation, some family photos, love notes, etc. Inside those planners, in addition to my daily to-do’s, you’ll find small lists and accounts of other important life events and the occasional ticket stub, roughly taped nearby the corresponding date. I’m not sure I’ll keep the stack forevermore, but for the moment, they’re a compact physical reminder of what’s transpired in a given year. A dot journal—so named for the dot grid paper notebook that lots of dot journalers prefer to use—is meant to function as a calendar, a daily planner, a diary and, my personal favorite, a to-do list, all in one. [If you’re curious about the ins and outs of dot journaling, I’ll point you in the direction of Rachel Wilkerson Miller’s new book Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide. She convinced me to get cozy with dot paper and I’m sure she’s the only person who could get me comfortable with using journal as a verb. Page after page of sample dot journal spreads and prompts in her perfect penmanship helped. A straightforward explanation of what dot journaling is in the first place was even better.] [Editor’s Note: Since publishing this piece, a bunch of readers have also pointed me in the direction of the Bullet Journal site, which Rachel references in her introduction (previewed here). You can learn more about this style of journaling there too!]
I wasn’t ready to take the full leap into making one all-knowing handwritten account, but I was tempted by the idea of making a Reading My Tea Leaves-specific dot journal. And so, I did. The result is a spot where I can keep track of RMTL goals, or dreams, or milestones and where I can cross things off to my heart’s content.
Blame summertime ennui, but I was feeling a little bit stuck in a rut and starting to write things down on paper got my so-called wheels turning at a different kind of speed. Starting each week by cracking open the fresh pages of the notebook and updating lists of books read, or articles written, or rearranging post-its on a calendar has been a nice way to rethink about this space and a nice way to spend at least a little bit less of my workday stuck behind a screen.
Because I’m a control freak, I use pencil to write in my journal. Because I like order, I’ve color-coded page sections with washi tape. In case any one else is in need of a little back-to-school inspired habit shift, I thought I’d share.
+ My notebook is from Public Supply Company where 25% of profits from every sale are given to a teacher in a high-need classroom to support creative projects in public schools.
+ My washi tape is by MT Brand.
+ More on clips and clamps this way.