Vintage habit is back with a vengeance
New journal-keepers putting old diaries to shame as organization becomes an obsession
If you’ve been toying with thoughts of becoming a well-organized you this year, the internet has ideas. And they don’t involve itemizing to-do lists on websites you can never remember the passwords for but, conversely, going analogue: extreme paper diaries are in, encouraging hours of writing down tasks and thoughts on paper, later to be decorated with gel pens.
So far, so teenage diary. But with 4.9 million posts tagged #planneraddict on Instagram, and thousands of people attending meetups to share their diary-based enthusiasm across the world every year, the movement is back with a (sparkly) vengeance.
There are differences, of course, from those of old: the modern planner is less a Filofax bulging with scribbled notes than an illuminated manuscript where you keep a note of appointments, as well as tracking how much water you drink and how you slept. The most coveted diaries on the market can cost hundreds of dollars. Add to that having to buy all the various stickers and special pens every month, and getting organized can be a costly habit.
Gemma Silk has been using a system of two paper diaries for a couple of years — one is for her home life, and the other to manage her health. She sees each “spread” (two facing pages to you and me) as a creative outlet, and spends evenings decorating them with calligraphy, stickers and other doodles.
“The sense of being disorganized felt awful,” the 28-year-old says of her first foray into extreme diarizing, which began when she became ill with fibromyalgia. “So I went online and watched Youtube videos and bought my first planner.”
She quickly got sucked in and even started a business, Gemma Rose Crafts, where she makes and sells diary charms for other obsessives. For Christmas she asked her husband for a Hobonichi, a Japanese minimalist brand whose diaries can cost hundreds of dollars.
Emily Norris is a parenting vlogger.
“As soon as I had three children I realized that if I don’t write something down, I forget it,” she says. “I also try to eat two vegetarian meals a week, so I track that, or how often my son plays football.” After getting requests from fans about how she kept herself organized she started selling a diary through her website last year, which sold about 3,000 copies. She released another one for 2020, and says sales are going well.
For the hardcore diary-keeper is the Bullet Journal method, where a plain notebook is painstakingly crafted into a place that stores everything: dentist appointments along with your deepest feelings. It takes hours of preparation: every page needs to be numbered, then an index page drawn up, before each day of the year is marked out with a ruler and pen.
From there, appointments, todo lists and notes are each jotted down with a variety of symbols that are themselves organized into a key.
It is as time-consuming as it sounds, but beloved by those who want full creative control. Somewhat surprisingly, there a lot of them: Instagram has some 3.7 million posts tagged #Bujo.
Everything, including notes on your thoughts and emotions, must be kept in brief bullet points. On their website, they suggest shortening “I was feeling pretty good even though I was a little late” to “Felt more relaxed when I arrived.”
This approach can apparently help to declutter your brain as well as your life, and is described by many as a way to “Marie Kondo your mind.”
The Sunday Telegraph
Diaries are back in a big way, and devoted users are spending hours writing down their tasks and how they’re feeling.