Book of Hours, Puzzle Diaries, and the Bullet Journal

“Why is it called a Bullet Journal and not a To-Do list?”

When a friend of mine online asked me this, it stopped me short. As a teacher, I love questions like this. They force you to analyze what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and distill it down to an easily-digestible essence.

I would say that 80% of what I record in my Bullet Journal is, indeed, a to-do list in some sort or another. Another 15% of it is a time-planner. But that other 5%?

There are times when it makes me feel like Margaret Beaufort and her Book of Hours.

A Book of Hours is essentially a prayer-book and calendar. Lady Margaret, Mother to Henry VII, was in the habit of writing marginal notes for the great happenings of her life, though the casualness of the dating is enough to send medieval scholars to distraction when using it as primary source material. She recorded births and deaths in it, as well as other great happenings of the day.

This book with its notes in it also make me think of my own grandmother. Nanny did word puzzles when she was on the throne in the morning. She made lots of marginal notes – about the weather, who was due to visit that day, births of grandchildren… We sometimes look through them to try to reconstruct family happenings.

And this is where the “Journal” part of the Bullet Journal comes in. It’s not necessarily journaling like writing a diary entry, or spending a lot of time writing out your feelings. It’s merely meant to record things that have happened – dates and times, if you want to. But the idea is that you record what happened, not necessarily what you feel about it.

I don’t do it a lot – mostly for dates and times on The Big Stuff. It records my granddaughter’s birth.

It recorded my granddaughter’s death.

It was a tool I used to stay organized in the face of that, too. Lady Margaret might have spent her time kneeling in prayer during the great tragedies of her life. Not having servants to take care of my needs, I need reminders to take care of myself. So, my Book of Hours is quite short on Compline and much longer on lists of things to do, meals to make, and reminders to space the activity out with rest.

I know it’s Thursday, my usual day to post a piece on the US Constitution. As you can imagine I haven’t been writing much on the US Constitution in the past few weeks. It’ll start back up next week, but one’s granddaughter passing away does throw your cognitive capacity for a loop. I chose to spend what ability I had to think on things closer and more immediate to home.

Bullet Journal

One thought on “Book of Hours, Puzzle Diaries, and the Bullet Journal

  1. Book of Hours sent me immediately to Mama’s crossword puzzles. As we were decluttering again last week, I came across the box of her Book of Hours. To do list, bullet journal, whatever you call it, it’s nice to record the happenings of the day.
    Love to you, my dear daughter. ♥

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