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Hacking The Bujo Method For Autistics

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

I've been journaling for several years, but I've only known I'm autistic for one and half. Naturally, I went looking for any bujo spreads I could weave into my practice. I came up empty handed. So, I created some spreads and shared them in this post. However, I'm always trying improve my bujo practice and make it even better, so I figured it's time for an update.


I ordered this beautiful gold Leuchtturm1917 on Amazon (despite disliking change, I do like choosing a different coloured journal when I need a new one - no, I don't know why).

Photo of gold journal with two pens.

Anyway...here's the adjusted system I created with reasons why it'll work for our autistic brains.


The Key

I never understood the use of a Key, but as life gets more complicated and I have more to keep track of, I started to see it's purpose. I've kept it simple and to the point due to Ryder's advice to not go crazy with signifiers.


Symbols

I have a way to show when:

  • A task is completed

  • A task needs rescheduling

  • A task has become irrelevant

There are also symbols for notes and events (such as appointments or meetings), as well as two signifiers to mark ideas and important tasks. This helps streamline my daily journaling and makes it easier to flip back through past dates and understand what I did or maybe didn't do that day.

Photo of journal key.

Colour-Coding

I've also added a few colour-coding items to this Key.


I needed a way to visually separate personal tasks with work tasks as I didn't want to complicate things with a second journal (I've tried that, it doesn't work). Now, I use a different colour when marking work tasks versus personal ones.


Since starting this new business (and slowly piecing it all together) I also wanted a way to keep track of business tasks, notes, and ideas so I dedicated a colour to it. I did the same thing for Autism related spreads and went with a bold red.


The Future Log

Like the Key, I saw little need for a future log. I have my phone's monthly calendar for that. However, I've come to learn I need to start thinking more long-term. A difficult thing to do when your brain's wired for details and not the big picture.

Photo of journal future log.

Future Goals

The purpose of a future log, for me, is to actually schedule long-term goals, break them down into monthly goals, and then specific tasks within that month.


For example, my reading goal this year was 25 books. By the time October rolled around I realized I was a little (a lot) behind schedule. So, I did some mental math and realized I needed to read three books during November and December, as long as I finished my current read by the end of October.


I actually used sticky notes to section out how many pages I needed to read in a day until the month ended. This averaged out to about 30 pages, which I can read no problem. Then, I continued this process. Thirty days in a month, three books, that's ten days to read a book. Again, I used sticky notes to separate how many pages I needed to read in a day and I stuck to it.


*Side note: this is also helpful for getting past that first third of a book which is mostly exposition and setting up the story.


The Monthly Log

This brings us to the monthly log. By planning everything out for the month in the future log, the monthly log is just a transfer of information.

Monthly Goals

I also break down those long-term goals into smaller ones, as I mentioned above. I create a checklist for goals next to the monthly calendar. For example, I write down which books I plan to read that month in the goals column, and then the day I need to finish it in the Calendar column.


I'll admit everything so far, does take some time to plan and set up, but it's a process I believe to be worthwhile as it has been working for me for the past couple months.


Mood And Activity Tracker

My mood and mental health has been all over the place recently due to the amount of change I've experienced (moving out, having my work hours drastically cut, having to find new clients, starting my business, etc.). It's been quite an ending to this already interesting year.


Now, I journal every day, and I have been for a long time. But going back and reflecting on those journal entries is not something I do. I thought maybe that's what needs to change, maybe there are some patterns I can find, certain activities that drain my energy versus ones that bring me energy.


As you can see in the picture above, I have a colour-coded scale to track my mood and two columns to record activities that give me energy vs. ones that do not. I also give the overall week a colour so I have a sort of median mood I can examine later on.


The Daily Log

As I said, I've been journaling for several years, and this is the first time I've used a daily log. I used to use a weekly one, but I wanted a way to integrate my long-form journaling with my daily schedule.


Because of the future and monthly log set up, I don't need a weekly overview anymore. This allows me to take one day at a time. It also helps me:

  • Not become overwhelmed with everything that needs to happen that week

  • Satisfies my detail-oriented brain

  • Slow down and not try to do everything at once

Here's how I set up my daily log:

Photo of journal daily log.

To keep things simple for every day, I split a page in half. Tasks on one side, journaling on the other.


If I happen to need more room for journaling I carry on to the next page. If I don't use an entire page in one day, I don't worry about wasted space and start on the next page as well.


Collections

I know this has been said before, but honestly collections are great for special interests.


Anything that piques my interest, a new idea that pops into my head, I can just flip to the next spread and start writing. This is how I worked through Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller, and marked important things from Unmasking Autism by Devon Pierce.


The Index

I saved the index for last, because I wanted to show how I catalog all of the above spreads into my index.


Typically you write the page number and title on each line. I started listing multiple pages on one line next to the title. But even this wasn't working quite as well for me. So, I put a short title where the page numbers should go and listed the numbers where the title should go.

Photo of journal index.

As you can see the Daily logs use the most amount of pages and before I was trying to squish as many page numbers onto one small line. You can use whichever index system works best for you, but this is what works for me.


Final Thoughts

If any of you made it to the end of this post, I appreciate it. Truly. I know it's a long one, but I didn't want to split it into two parts. If you use any of these tips or have more of your own please leave a comment below.


P.S.

Journaling as been such a beneficial part of my life and I wanted to find a way to share these benefits with others. Benefits such as learning to understand my emotions, reflecting on my experiences and in turn understanding myself better, and organizing my life in a way that works for me. This manifested as my very own dotted/bullet journal collection. The latest collection is inspired by the Autistic community and utilizes a pastel-like colour palette so it's soft on the eyes and a paper-over-board cover so you write on your lap any where, any time. Explore the collection below or you can buy your journal now.




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