Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bullet Journal: Brilliant Organization System

Note: I've decided to make my most recent post the featured article to keep the blog up-to-date, but will include link at the end of my future posts of my How of Happiness review, due to the importance of being happy.

I was wondering why it was taking me so long to memorize the areas and all items of Dark Souls 3. And this is NOT necessarily what all the items are (except the important ones like weapons, armor sets), since it's hard to keep track between all the various titanite shards and soul items, but at least know that the items are there. Also, I wanted to memorize these areas to the point where I can envision them in my head, so not needing visual cues of the game. I was rehearsing on the top of my head, and my friend actually thought I was talking to myself because I was lonely! But that's the level of memorization that I would like to have, to be able to visualize the entire game in my head.

This goal is made easier with:
  1. The save/copy method (I found out that gamers call this save scumming), and I have already made save files for all the areas in question
  2. DieNoob's Youtube video 
  3. Dark Souls 3 Cheat Sheet, as it's often faster to read than to watch.
I found out that it's taking me so long to accomplish for two reasons. The first is being distracted, especially as there are so many areas, and there were some save files that I haven't made yet, so I bounced between memorizing, and then progressing with the save files.

But, even after completing my save files, the second reason is that I was struggling to memorize some of the areas such as Smouldering Lake, which I feel is quite complicated as there are three levels (Lake, the ruins area, and the top area where the Ballista is), and it's very maze-like. Also, I have to follow a very specific route to avoid the poisonous ghrus, and to get all the items in a safe AND efficient manner (i.e. least amount of backtracking).

Because of the struggles with memorization, I decided to channel my inner nerd, and to take notes precisely because of the daunting Smouldering Lake. Further, it would be nice to record other areas as reference as it would solidify my memorization.

Since I didn't have a notebook, and wanted a rather nice one (this is Dark Souls 3, after all), fueled by my love of stationary supplies, I confess that I got a Moleskine A4-sized, lined notebook (A4 has almost the same dimensions of American letter-sized paper).

However, I can see myself taking more gaming notes, and although the Moleskine is rather lovely, I'd rather not buy Moleskine after Moleskine, and find something more affordable but just as nice. It seems we're paying a hefty price for the name brand, after all.

Upon googling, "alternative Moleskine notebooks", the research was fascinating. First, I found that these serious journal users all slammed the Moleskine as the paper is supposedly awful for fountain pens and gel ink. For my normal ball point pen, there were no problems with ink bleeding through the paper, but it's rough and not smooth like the notebooks with Clairefontaine paper that these journalists swooned over. But what's way more fascinating with the research was the world of Bullet Journaling.

I may have been living under a rock, but I haven't heard of Bullet Journaling since organization is not my strong suit. But, since Bullet Journaling kept getting referenced over and over and over again in my research for alternative notebooks, I wondered why this is all the rage.  Especially, as I thought it was impractical, considering the samples I've seen--are all Bullet Journalists professional artists with perfect hand-writing and mastery of calligraphy?

It also seemed hoity-toity with journalists going into the pros and cons of esoteric paper products and fountain pens, made worse with them calling it BuJo for short. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the contradiction: given my perception of how much effort and time BuJo takes, I wondered why this is all the rage, AND, the contradiction that these same journalists stating that it was easy, and all you need is a notebook and a pen. So I looked more into Bullet Journaling.

Bullet Journaling was created by Ryder Carroll, but I couldn't find when BuJo became disseminated. This introductory site showed how easy it is to start one, and I appreciate the simplicity. In the past, the rare situations when I made to-do lists, it takes much longer to type in a to-do list app, and so much easier and faster to hand-write. Plus, it's annoying to click the box when the task is completed, as sometimes this doesn't get registered, whereas, when you complete an item in your Bullet Journal, you just cross over the dot, which takes less than 1 second.

Also, it's just easier to read and see everything on a piece of paper, and it's there for immediate viewing. Whereas, with electronic means, you have to click on app, and then click on the to-do list, and so forth.

In other words, I decided to use this system for Dark Souls 3 goals to keep me from getting distracted, and due to the BuJo format, it was easy to see what needs to be accomplished. It was also very satisfying to cross the dots, which is way more elegant than crossing them out, because you can see what you've accomplished.

BuJo Example: Dark Souls 3 to do list
Needless to say, my journaling is absolutely hideous compared to the BuJo gurus, but the beauty of it is that even with awful handwriting and crossing things out due to mistakes, it's actually very easy to read, and practical to use. Further, you can make it as simple or as elaborate as you want. Aside from the few rules of dot, x, <, >,  circle, and -- (dash), you can design it any way you want.

Even with this extremely simple list I wrote, you can see how a to-do list app can't even do the "memorize" part of the list. Plus, what if you want to doodle under "memorize". I'm sure there's an electronic form of BuJo, but I can see it having the same exact pitfalls of a simpler to-do list app.

I see BuJo as extremely practical and helpful on a day-to-day basis, but it can also unleash your creative side if you want to make BuJo your hobby, as its nature invites unlimited expression.

Common types of lined paper
Because of the bullet-nature of BuJo, I would recommend getting a book that has grid (organizes your indents) or dot grid if you want a more unobtrusive style. For me, given my messy, disorganized handwriting, the grid-style system makes more sense as it will give me more structure. For those who are more creative and want to draw, the dot grid style is a better choice. I would avoid the blank and lined style for BuJo purposes.

I admit that after reading about the Baron Fig, Clairefontaine, Leuchtturm, Rhodia, Semikolon, and other branded notebooks, I fell into the trap of materialism, as opposed to my original research intention of finding more cost-effective notebooks than the Moleskine. I was seduced by the Leuchtturm New Pink Master Slim A4+ notebook and the Clairefontaine A4 notebook with french-ruled paper.  I haven't received the 2 notebooks yet, but I wished the Leuchtturm had French-ruled paper, as it seems like it would organize my handwriting even better than the grid style. I'll post comparing the Clairefontaine, Leuchtturm, and Moleskine notebooks once I test out the first two.

I now understand the popularity of BuJo, as not only is it fun, but it helps organize your day and makes you feel accomplished, which is refreshing. For now, with the Moleskine, I'm taking DS3 notes of the areas, and then intermixed with BuJo daily to-do tasks. I haven't looked any deeper into BuJo aesthetics, but I believe since you can do whatever you want, you CAN have a bulleted to-do list using the x, circle, --, >, < method, and the next page, a free-style note taking section. It's not like you MUST follow rules to the exact letter.
French-Ruled Paper

Conclusion: BuJo is both practical and fun, so it's the best of both worlds. This is easier said than done, but don't fall into the materialism trap like I did! I would start with an inexpensive Staples spiral bound notebook, or one of those old-school composition books with dot grid or grid style paper. If you're really into Bullet Journaling and/or want a more "permanent" notebook, I would definitely look into the brands I listed above.


  1. How could I be so foolish!! The genius of this system was right in front of me the whole time!!

  2. LOL! I'm really into it. I just got the Leuchtturm--I love how its name sounds even more "pretentious" than Moleskine, but it's really a well-thought out high quality journal!!


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