productivity :: balance :: freelancing :: notebooking
Bullet journal in the shower

Bullet journal in the shower

People often say they get their best ideas in the shower. I know that’s true for me at times. Supposedly, this happens because of the relaxation and increased dopamine that comes with being in the warm water. We get into an insightful, defocused state. Anyway, if you’ve ever been frustrated by coming up with an entire plot for a novel, a brilliant business model or an amazing idea for a painting when you’re naked and wet and without your bullet journal, this video offers a solution. Spoiler: it’s the great line of Rite in the Rain notebooks from

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A quick hack for capturing ideas when you don’t have your bullet journal

A quick hack for capturing ideas when you don’t have your bullet journal

Sometimes, you just can’t write stuff down in your bullet journal — either because you don’t have it with you, or you’re on the run. This happens to me all the time while I’m walking somewhere or at a rock show or what-have-you. It’s really important for your brain and productivity to capture these ideas or to dos when they occur to you. It decreases the stress of having too many things in your head and also assures you won’t forget (don’t you hate it when you think… “oh, this idea is so good, I won’t forget it!” but then you do?).

My go to solution for this problem is the excellent and super-simple app Captio for iPhone. When you get it, you set it up with your email address (that’s it!). Now, whenever you have an idea you need to not forget, you open the app, type something in there to remind you of it and hit send. Poof! It’s in your email inbox next time you check it. You’re ready to add it to a bullet journal to-do list or collection of project ideas, or put it wherever it goes and put it into action. I love this app.

I hear tell there’s an app called Email Me that does much the same thing for Android.

Happy productivity!

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3.5 Magic Mistake-Hiding Hacks for your Bullet Journal

3.5 Magic Mistake-Hiding Hacks for your Bullet Journal

Sometimes my journal is messy and frenetic and captures the pace of what’s going perfectly. Sometimes, I want to draw up a nice chart or list or tracker and it bugs me when I mess something up. I’ve been working on ways to fix mistakes in my journal — I use a Moleskine with the dot grid — but these techniques are all adaptable to a Leuchtturm1917 or any other kind of notebook. In fact, if you use a notebook that has white, rather than off-white pages like the Moleskine, some of these ideas will even work a little better.

Before we get started, I want to tell you about a few things I tried that resulted in varying degrees of fail but were all suggested on the internet.

  • vodka
  • regular white out with colored pencil over it
  • acetone or ethyl acetate nailpolish remover on a qtip
  • baking soda and water paste on qtip
  • lemon juice on qtip

You’ll notice that the one thing these all have in common is that they are liquid. Paper + ink + liquid is generaly not a winning equation. Unless you’re doing some artistic watercolor-y blanding thing, it just makes a mess. Potentially on multiple pages. So don’t bother with any of the science experiments above. The internet is silly.

Ok, on to things that work for better or for worse.

Here’s an example of a goof. I made up a habit tracker at the beginning of this month, and I counted out all the squares and marked them in pencil and everything, but as I was inking in my lines I realized too late that I’d miscounted. So, I drew an extra little line between the first and second parts of the month and it seriously bugged me and I have to look at this thing for 30 days.

I know some people might put a strip of washi tape between the two parts of the month to obfuscate this goof, but I’m not really a washi tape person. (Not that I have anything against it, or those who adore it). What I decided this goof called for is one of my favorite fixit techniques for little goofs. I call it the:

No. 1: (Mole) Skin-graft technique

You may have an old Moleskine around that has a few blank pages in it for whatever reason. Or, if not, you may be able to find a page in your current notebook that you can sacrifice a small sliver of (you’ll see.) You could even cut out or reserve a page from the back for skin-grafts.

In my case, I have some pages at the front that I wrote in great haste, capturing to-do lists quickly. They’re no great works of art of things I need to put in a gilded frame for the sake of nostalgia. I even have a blank page with a random part of a thumbprint on it. That’ll be my donor area.

I’ll eyeball or measure the area that needs to be repaired. Ok 9mm and the width of a pen stroke. Now I’ll go to the skin donor page and use an X-acto knife to cut a tiny sliver just that size. Or, close enough. I can put a piece of cardboard under the page to avoid slicing up multiple pages or just flip it onto my self-healing mat.

I take my little sliver, with the precision of a surgeon, and apply a bit of glue to it using my trusty UHU glue stick. I’ve also done this with the Gorilla brand version of Krazy Glue, thinking the tiny applicator tip would be useful, but it’s liquidity made a bit of a smudge of the ink I was covering up. And besides, why Krazy Glue your fingers when it’s not absolutely necessary. So, yes, adhesive of your choice with a paste-like consistency is best.

I apply my gluey graft to the problem area, adjusting it with my Xacto knife or some other pointy tool. Let it dry, and voilà, brand new (Mole)-skin!

This is going to work best for stray lines and dots, though you could of course use it to cover some small lettering here and there.

No. 2: Mole-out

This method is really kind of fun. I haven’t totally perfected it yet myself, but I have faith that you can. Firstly, let me tell you that I stumbled across the idea in a 2009 post on a message board on Flickr by Plannerisms Laurie, who credits it to her anonymous sister.

Moleskin paper is off-white. But not markedly so. If you use white out or white correction tape on it, it looks very white and obvious and not terribly appealing.

A shade of white-out called “buff” does exist. But this is too ivory or creamy. It will still show somewhat glaringly. The idea behind mole-out is that you slowly mix regular white white out and buff white out until you achieve the perfect mole-paper color.

I did this in a paint mixing dish, so I could see what it looked like as I worked. Laurie says her sister did it by slowly adding drops of buff white-out to a bottle of white white-out until she got the color right… and I think this is the practical way to go. It leaves you with a bottle of mole-out, rather than a messy paint cup in which your mole-out is going to dry up and be a pain. This makes even more more sense now that I’ve experimented and see that the mixture really is mostly white with a much smaller percentage of buff. I would definitely add the buff to the white little by little and keep testing.

I use a two-coat dabbing technique to try to keep the cover-up as unblobby as possible.

I had no idea that white-out comes with a little foam applicator now, not a little brush. I guess I haven’t used it too much since the 80s! I used Bic brand, as it was what I found most readily at Staples, but I’m sure other brands are the same.

No. 3: Paper Sandpaper

Here’s an idea that I didn’t think would work but actually works quite well. And it’s easy and doesn’t require mad arts and crafts times like the options above.

I take some fine sandpaper. This scrap isn’t marked but I’m going to guess it’s 150 grit. It feels almost smooth to the touch. I rip a tiny piece off the corner and, well, sand my errors gently away. Try not to rip the paper or cause it too much stress and damage. This technique works pretty brilliantly when you’re going to correct what you’ve rubbed out with the pen you were already writing with.

I don’t think this would work well on pen that really absorbs into the paper, like some fountain pens. The more the ink is on the surface, the better this will work, and the less obvious the correction will look.

No. 3.5

You can also use the blade of an X-acto knife (don’t use the point, but the length of the sharp part) to gently scrape away at ink on paper. This will work somewhat less well than the sandpaper, and is less foolproof, but it’s an option when you don’t have fine-grit sandpaper around.


It’s not so much a cover-up, but a way I like to fix things that look a little screwy — especially titles of pages and other big lettering, is to outline, highlight, or decorate with opaque paint-like gel pens. These can patch up some slipshod lettering in black, and then you can go in with black and fix it more. Or try some gel pen stripes or dots on lettering you’ve just made way too thick and clunky looking. The key is being able to both hide the original pen and go back over it with the orginal pen to tidy up the edge.

My favorites are the Sakura Moonlight 06 Pens. I find some of the colors (weirdly, the warmer colors) do a much better job at opacity and even flowing than others.

Despite spending a stupid amount of time in the art supply store staring at the Sakura Gelly Roll pen display, I don’t totally understand how their ranges differ — I know I’ve bought lots of their pens that did nothing for me and some that I love. The best I can figure is that the Sakura Moonlight 06 pens (with the tiny crescent moon and star on the pen clip) are the nice opaque ones. I’m not sure what the ones that are just “Moonlight” are all about, but I don’t think I tend to like them. I suspect the “Souffle” and “Glaze” lines may also be nice and flowy and opaque but I haven’t tested them recently. And I’m sure there are good opaqe gel pens by other manufacturers too.

If you have favorites, or if you have any clever tips for eradicating or obfuscating bullet journal mistakes, please add them in the comments. Thanks!

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