Whichever way you look at it, 2020 has been fairly suboptimal. And I say this as someone who has (so far) avoided either COVID-19 or job loss.
All the same, it’s been a string of disappointments, cancellations, lockdowns, anxiety and stress and I’m quite looking forward to life improving in the coming months.
That said, when things were particularly difficult, ambiguous or simply overwhelming, one tool in my coping toolkit helped me more than any other: my bullet journal. I’m not kidding. Simply opening this black notebook and jotting down a few worrying thoughts or adding to plans for 2021 did wonders for my mental health.
(If by any chance this is the first time you’ve heard of a bullet journal, then check out this brief introductory video from its creator).
I spent some time over Christmas noting what I’d learnt about myself as a result of the COVID pandemic and its ensuring disruption. I noted the helpful habits I’d like to maintain next year and listed the new habits I’d like to cultivate. I started making plans for a post-pandemic world. I maintained my gratitude habit and noted the smallest details of each day that help me see what’s going right in the world. And I kept track of the various health and wellbeing habits I’ve been developing, reflecting on how they’ve been helping me.
No app has come close in terms of helpfulness or impact – except for maybe Headspace, which retained pride of place on my iPhone and iPad home screens this year. There’s always time for meditation.
I had thought about starting a brand new notebook for the new year. But I’ve plenty of space in the Leuchtturm 1917 I’ve been using and find it interesting to see how my attitudes and concerns change over the months. I’m not a believer in ‘new year, new me’ so it’s unlikely January 1st will bring with it any kind of fresh start. We’ll still be in lockdown and I’ll still be waiting for the vaccine.
Actually, I think I’ll hold of on starting a new journal until I’ve had my immunisation and I’m free(er) to move about the place again. Maybe I’ll start a new journal to mark the opportunity to go on holidays again. Whenever that is.
Either way, the power of pen and paper never fails to astound me. This little black book has been magical in 2020 and just recording my plans and aspirations for 2021 has been a boost.