Bullet journal

My 2019 Bullet journal evaluation: Which features will migrate to my 2020 journal

Most bullet journalers are entering or have already entered in the period of setting up a new bullet journal. I am also, but for me it is easy to start a new journal, as I use a Filofax Clipbook A5. In the end of the year I remove all pages from my clipbook and store them. I then add new pages.

In my previous blogpost, I answered the first question that was in my mind in starting a new bullet journal: What happens to the old bullet journals? And since this is by now solved, I can continue to the next one, which is: Which features of my current bullet journal I will continue having in my 2020 version? I split the features of my bullet journal in two big categories: the collections and the monthly/weekly/daily layout.

Collections – Trackers

About this time last year I went through the process of evaluating the collections I have been using in my previous bullet journals. I knew that I have been starting a lot of them and I tended to quit keeping them updated towards the middle of the year. Has that happened to you too?

So in my 2019 bullet journal I kept only collections that were not abandoned and created only a couple of new ones in subjects that I evaluated as really interesting for me, such as books. And guess what? It was an absolute success, as I did not abandon them this year either!

These are the collections – trackers that were so successful for me in 2019:

  • 2019 Roadmap
    This is one of the two not so minimalist pages in my bullet journal. I have already explained the idea behind it here. I absolutely love this short overview of my year!
My 2019 roadmap, as I transferred it to the notebook for safekeeping.
  • Movies and Series watched
    These two collections are of interest for both me and my husband. We watch several movies each year and a lot of series, as it has become so easy with Netflix. These trackers usually end up a bit messy, as I tend to complete them while watching tv, but I love them anyway 🙂
  • Books read tracking
    The Books read collection is the second not-so-minimalist page in my bullet journal. I read about 40 books per year and I tend not to keep the majority of them. As a result, this page is the only way I can really imagine how it would be if I was. It is so fulfilling to see my drawn library filling up!
My 2019 library until now
  • Reading challenges and other book related tracking
    I follow a reading challenge during the year, called BRACE, and it is vital of course to track it in my bullet journal. In addition, during 2019 I decided to keep track of where the books and their authors take me. I track the origin of the authors, so as to have an overview and where and when the books take place. I have been trying to use these data to create some statistics, that I found quite interesting!

Collections – Functional pages

The bullet journal is an incredible organisational tool. I keep a few functional lists that help me in my everyday life:

  • Waiting on…
    I consider this one, one of the most useful collections I use in bujo. Quite often I order things from the internet, or expect an email or a letter from somebody for a follow up. These are things that tend to be forgotten or lost inside a daily or weekly log. As a result, I keep a special page where I note what I should follow up. 2019 was a rather quiet year, but I can’t know how 2020 will go, so I will keep in my new bullet journal
  • Wishlist without deadline
    This is a list of all the things I would like to do, but they are not eminent and I do them only when I have time and mood. Not everything was done, but at least the majority was!
  • When did I last…
    In this list I note things like when I change toothbrushes, clean the windows and the fireplace, or any other task that is donea few times per year, but not regularly.
My “Waiting on” and Wishlist without deadline pages for 2019

Monthly/Weekly/Daily layouts

These are the second most important component of my bullet journal. At this time last year I took some decisions about the monthly/weekly/daily layouts that I have used during the years I have had a bujo. To be honest which of these layouts you use depend on the particular occasion and phase of your life.

During all of 2019 until now I have used a one page monthly log, the running task list for weekly and I didn’t have any dailies. By the way I found out that the running task list is also called Alastair method for weekly.

  • One-page monthly layout
    I know that a one-page monthly layout is perfect for my personal life, so I will continue using it. The months that were full of my gardening activities I kept a second one-page monthly layout dedicated to my plants.
  • Running task list or Alastair method for weekly
    I have found this layout really useful for me. I was mostly staying home and I did not have strict deadlines for the tasks to be done, so by using a running task list I avoided rewriting tasks. Now that my weeks have become more busy already, I will have to reconsider about which layout will be more useful for my 2020 bullet journal. But I never prepare my weeklies too much in advance, so I can change my mind whenever I want.
My current weekly for personal tasks

I think after this evaluation I am ready to start my 2020 bullet journal. Are you evaluating your previous versions yourself? Are there any interesting conclusions you have drawn? Please be kind enough to share them with me!


Hiking route: Valle Verzasca, Ticino, Switzerland

Autumn is the hiking period for my family and this year we did three amazing routes. The first one was the 5 Lakes Route, an alpine route on Mount Pizol in the canton of Saint Gallen, described already in a previous blogpost. The second one was the Verzasca valley route, in the canton of Ticino.

For our hiking, we chose a cute small valley in the geographical centre of Ticino, the Verzasca valley. It is a rural and largely untouched valley with steep inclines and numerous waterfalls. It is formed by the Verzasca river that flows over rock through the narrow valley and has many natural rock pools and places to bathe. The Verzasca valley extends over a length of 25 kilometers in north-south direction. The altitude of the valley floor is from 500m to 900m above sea level, so the hiking routes along the valley are not too demanding. The surrounding mountains have an average altitude of 2400m, so the routes that includes crossing over a pass are of moderate difficulty.

We decided to do the Verzasca valley route from north to south, starting at Sonogno, the northest village of the valley that is accesible by car, and finish at Lavertezzo, more than 17 km away, from where we could take the bus back to Sonogno. The duration of the route depends on the website you check and the person that wrote about it and can vary from 3 to 6 hours. In any case, we considered it a full-day activity, especially since we did it two days after the alpine hiking at Mount Pizol and we were not planning to hurry around.

We reached the Verzasca valley by car from Tenero, at Lake Maggiore. Via Valle Verzasca runs north, along the Verzasca river. At the southern outlet of the valley the river is dammed, forming the Lago di Vogorno. We stopped at the 220m high dam, which is considered to be one of the highest dams in Europe and is famous for the “GoldenEye” Bungee Jumping, the setting of the opening scene of the James Bond movie “Golden Eye”. It is absolutely scary! Then we continued further north, to Sonogno, where the street ends.

Sonogno is a cute alpine village, with traditional stone houses and narrow alleys. A bit northern of the village and only about 15 min away, there is an impressive waterfall. You can walk right next to the small pool that the waterfall creates or a bit higher on a hill that give the opportunity of beautiful pictures.

The waterfall at Sonogno

The following morning we woke up early and got ready for our excursion. It is a rather easy to moderate route, with not big ascents and desents. Nevertheless, it is advised to wear proper shoes, especially if the weather has been rainy. In addition, it is better to carry your supplies of water and snacks, as there is nowhere along the path to get supplies.

Our starting point, the village of Sonogno is at 919m above sea level and more or less the highest point of the route. The path starts at its south end past the athletic facilities, with a beautiful bridge over the amazingly coloured river.

Verzasca river from the bridge at Sonogno. The colour is amazing.

From Sonogno, the path runs along the river from the right bank, till the village of Frasco, while the street is from the left one. At Frasco, we had to cross over the impressive Vecchio Ponte stradale and head to the left bank of the river, while the street continues from the right bank. This is quite common in all of the route: the path and the street are on opposite banks.

The path continues from Frasco to Brione firstly through meadows and traditional farm houses and then approaching again the riverside. At about the middle there is Gerra, where we saw a beautiful waterfall.

At Brione we stopped to have our lunch break. There were turquoise natural pools formed by the river around here and it was the perfect place to have our own outdoor bbq swiss style, with cervelas, the most typical Swiss sausages. We collected wood from all around the river banks and while I was cooking our sausages my husband decided to go for a swim. Well, it was a bit cold the water!

After a quite long break, we continues our hike towards Lavertezzo. As it was already past midday, the route became a bit less populated and it was nicer for us to pay a bit of attention to the river, that becomes more impressive from this point further. There are bigger boulders and formations where the turquoise and emerald colour of the river is more distinct.

About six hours after our start in Sonogno, we reached Lavertezzo, which is at 545 meters above sea level. It is a typical Ticinese picturesque village, with several stone buildings. Its main attraction, though is the 17th century double-arched bridge over the Versasca river, called Ponte dei Salti and known also as the Roman Bridge.

The impressive Ponte dei Salti

At exactly this point, the rock formations are enormous. Even if you don’t want to do the whole of the hike, it is worthy even just to drive up to this point and stop at the parking that is available exactly before the bridge. The river is much deeper here and it is a common place for bathing, although it is considered dangerous due to the currents.

Bullet journal

What happens to the old bullet journals?

It is again almost the end of the year and the time to take decisions about my bullet journal. There will be a series of decision to make, but the first question that came up is a crucial one: What should I do with my old bullet journals?

I started bullet journaling in 2016. In that year I had a simple notebook, but already from January 2017 I moved to a Filofax clipbox, that I adore ever since. This means that I have the luxury of just removing all of the pages at the end of the year and start filling it up again with new pages. I have been keeping the past years, by making a simple book-binding of the loose pages and then storing them in a box. But this doesn’t seem to be the most efficient way after four different years.

My four years of bullet journaling and the evolution to pure minimalism 🙂

Are old bullet journals useful?
This is the first question to answer, in order to find a solution.

Most bullet journalers will answer yes. The bujo has been our companion for quite some time, it includes personal notes, collections that are still interesting today, maybe notes for a project or a recipe. You can’t just throw that up, right? But for sure not everything that is in a bullet journal is interesting, so as to keep it for the years to come, no? And how easy is it to find the information the moment you are looking for the notes on the project or the recipe?

I should note at this point that I am not a very sentimental person about a lot of things. Besides my bullet journal, I am following a minimalist way in my life too. I tend to keep only a few things (that honestly end up in a lot if you have to move). For example, I read a lot of books, but the majority I give away through Bookcrossing. So starting to collect several bullet journals on a shelf doesn’t comply with my way of living.

What is important and what not?
If you decide that you don’t want to keep bullet journals for the sake of keeping them, this is the next question that occurs.

Well, most monthly and weeklies (or dailies if you have – I don’t) are not exactly the most interesting pages in your bullet journal, don’t you agree? In 2017 my husband and I went on a long trip in the southern hemisphere and I kept some kind of journal of what we were doing every day, in a monthly format. These monthlies are messy, but even two years later, I consider them quite interesting. Or if you have had a baby or some other occasion that you have been noting in your bullet journal, you might find that interesting to keep for the years to come. Nevertheless, most of my weeklies are full of house chores, business or doctor appointments and other boring things.

I have a similar problem with my collections. As a junior journaler in the beginning, I was keeping a lot of collections and tracking several things. But as the time was passing, I was abandoning them. By now I keep only two collections: my yearly overview (for more information check my post “How to track your year in a glance!“) and some trackings about the books I read during the year and the reading challenges I follow. I also use my bullet journal for notes about the projects (knitting, crocheting or paper ones) that I do during the year and my gardening. Most of these I would like to keep and not throw away. I can imagine that you have also some collections that you would like to keep.

So what should happen to the important things and what to the not important ones?
And this is the difficult question, which I think can have several answers.

Personally, I decided to separate the wheat from the chaff. I have always liked notebooks and stuff and I had a couple of empty nice looking notebooks that I couldn’t get rid of. So I decided to transfer the important things from my bullet journal to another notebook.

I have been using my bujo to make notes while I knit or crochet. I have created a nice template so as to keep track of my projects, but it soon ends up messy while I work, with notes of the modifications I do to the pattern I use (and I do a lot) here and there. These notes are handy when I do them and important for later if I want to reproduce anything, but it would help if they were a bit cleaner. As a result from quite early, I started keeping a separate notebook about my handwork. So I just move my knitting or crocheting notes to this notebook.

From the working notes in my bullet journal to the saved noted in my knit/crochet notebook.

During 2019 I started doing gardening. Surprise, surprise most of my notes are in my bullet journal in templates for gardening that I have created. But these were also working notes and the tables in the end of the year looked quite full with information and plantings of the same vegetables that were overlapping. And since this was also information that might come handy again next year, at least so as to decide which seeds worked and which not, I ended up creating a notebook dedicated to gardening too.

From the working notes about gardening to my notebook dedicated to gardening

So the only things that are left are my personal collections, which include, my annual roadmap, my book and reading trackings and any notes that I have kept from books. These are the pages that have sentimental value for me, so I decided to choose one of the most special notebooks that I have been keeping and dedicate it to my own personal collection of memories and notes.

The majority of the rest of the pages in bullet journal will probably not be important enough to retrieve in five years (or even less if it is about when i did the washing and when I cleaned the house).

My conclusions
This whole procedureof deciding and copying everything took me a bit of time, but the result was fulfilling. I know feel better with myself and satisfied that the information will be easy to find next time I need it.

Even for me, that I consider myself not so sentimental with things, it was not easy to decide to throw something that reminds me still of several things. I have copied the information that I consider today important, but I won’t throw all of the old versions of my bullet journal in one go. I have set the rule to myself that in the end of each year I will be evaluating if I keep the bujo of four years ago (as a whole or as part). As I result I will be storing only three full versions of a bullet journal. And if something needs more time to be evaluated objectively, the rule can be bent a bit.

So, I ended up with a running bullet journal, three dedicated notebooks (hurrah! some of the notebooks I have been keeping because I like them found their purpose) and three versions of past-year-bujos. Not bad I think. What do you think? What are you doing with the old versions of your bullet journals? Are you keeping them all?

My bullet journal and the three notebooks I have created for safe-keeping of the important information.
(Note to myself: I still need to modify the word Paper, so as to convert it to Garden)


Excursion to Ticino, Switzerland

In September there were a few nice days and my husband and I grabbed the opportunity to enjoy the autumn nature. We went for a small excursion to Ticino, Ticino is special for two reasons: it is the only italian-speaking area of Switzerland and it is in and south of the Alps. Thanks to the latter, this area is a bit warmer than the rest of Switzerland and as a result a common destination of holidays inside the country. They advertise themselves as the most Mediterrenean of Switzerland!

Driving up the San Bernandino Pass. We didn’t go through the tunnel.

There are two ways to reach Ticino from the north: you have either to cross either the San Bernandino Pass from the east or the Gotthard Pass from the west. In both cases there are tunnels that can save the time to drive up the pass. But if you have a bit of time and the weather is nice, it is an always nice drive up the Passes. For our excursion we drove to Ticino from the San Bernadino Pass and we didn’t use the tunnel and on the way back we took the tunnel at the Gotthard Pass.

A nice bridge on our way from the San Bernandino Pass to Bellinzona.

My husband spent several of his childhood holidays in Ticino. So we drove a bit around the nice mountainous but sunny even in the end of September area. We drove through Bellinzona, the capital of the canton, and Locarno, which located at the northern shore of Lake Maggiore.

We then continued up to the picturesque village of Arcegno (387m above sea level), one of places my husband has been spending summers and walked around the small streets that are surrounded by stone houses.

And then we headed again down towards Lago Maggiore. The view of the lake from the village of Ronco is amazing!

Lago Maggiore. Switzerland on the left and Italy on the right edges.

We continued our descent towards the lake shores and the touristic town of Ascona (196 m above sea level). There we had a walk along the paved promenade and enjoyed the sun and a swiss-italian icecream!

The paved promenade at Ascona. It was a bit windy, but sunny and warm

After Ascona we decided to start heading towards the Verzasca Valley, which was our main destination in Ticino. We wanted to hike this beautiful and narrow valley, but the description of the hike will follow in another blog post.


Alpine hiking route: 5 Seen Wanderung, Pizol, Switzerland

Hiking is considered to be the national sport of Switzerland. The hiking season starts around May and finishes around November, depending of course on the weather. This year, my husband and I did a bit of hiking and I am starting to enjoy it more and more. One of the most amazing hikes we did this year was the alpine route of the Five Lakes at the Pizol mountain, a peak in the canton of Saint Gallen.

The Saint Gallen Rhine valley with Lake Constance (Bodensee) in the back and Lichtenstein on the right.

The Five Lakes route, or Funf Seen Wanderung as it is called in German, is a mountain route that takes its name from the five alpine lakes that can be reached along the route. Besides the beautiful hidden lakes, it offers magnificent views of the mountain ranges around including the Churfisten and Alps of Graubünde and the Saint Gallen Rhine valley across to Lake Constance and Lichtenstein.

The Alps in the background

The total distance of the route is about 11 km and its estimated duration 4 to 4.5 hours. The easiest approach of it is to start from the Pizolhütte at 2227m and finish at Gaffia Station at 1861m. In total, it involves ascenting of 600 m and decenting of 1000 m. and is of moderate difficulty. The opposite direction is obviously a bit more demanding.

We reached Pizolhütte, the starting point of our hike, from the town Wangs, located at 509m above sea level, on the south of the canton of Saint Gallen, through a combination of gondola and chair lifts. The hut is located close to Wangersee, the first lake of the route. From there the path started climbing up and it offered broad view over the East Swiss and Austrian Alps. After about an hour of climbing, we reached Wildsee, the second lake at altitude 2493m above sea level. It really appeared as a surprise around a turn and it was breathtaking with its turquoise colour. From this point, we even got a glimpse of the Pizol summit (2844m).

The amazingly turquoise Wildsee (2493m above sea level)

From Wildsee, the path descented briefly, so as to reach Schottensee, the third lake of the route and a turquoise one as well. From the banks of Schottensee (2340m), the ascent began again, so as to reach the highest point of the route at 2500 m above sea level. From here we had an absolutely amazing view of the Churfirsten, the mountain range dominating over Walenstadt, my husband’s hometown.

The smaller but cute Schottensee (2340m above sea level) and in the back the Churfirsten mountain range

From 2500m, the path descended to the Schwarzsee at 2368m. As its name implies, this is a dark-coloured lake and it makes quite some contrast to the previous two lakes. It was about 5.5km to this point, so it was about the middle of the 5 Lakes route. As a result, we decided to have our short lunch break at this point and we were not the only ones!

The dark Schwarzsee (2368m above sea level)

After a half-hour break, we start the second part of our hike. 2.5 km or about an hour away from Schwarzsee, we reached the fifth and last lake, the green Baschalvasee (2174m).

The small green Baschalvasee (2174 m above sea level)

From this point starts the big and final descent of the route to the Station of Gaffia. It was quite some relief to reach it 4.5 hours (including the break) after we started!

From Gaffia we took the lift down to Wangs, enjoying the last views of the Saint Gallen Rhine valley with the Bodensee (or Lake Constance in English) in the back.

I am absolutely happy to have done this magnificent hike and, although as tiring as a 4-hour alpine hike with ascents and descents can be, it is so rewarding to have seen so beautiful views of alpine lakes and impressive mountain ranges! I do recommend it to anyone interested to see a beautiful area and experience Switzerland and the Alps!