Bullet Journaling is a tried and practiced technique which recently became trendy — and for good reason. Bullet Journaling is the name given to a “mindfulness practice” designed by Ryder Carroll, who has also published a book on the topic. The book and its outlined method aims to help people to be more productive, meaningful and intentional with their schedules and daily lives. For more official guidance, the Bullet Journal website is helpful. The great thing, though, is that you don’t need rules! To Bullet Journal, all you have to do is determine which aspects of your life are important to keep track of, and then you systematically arrange them in a way that is conducive to your needs.
- Organization: I certainly have experienced an improvement in my organization and proactivity since moving to this method. I began Journaling in May 2018 and still regularly consult and add to my journal. As a student, part-time employee, and a TA, there is simply too much going on in my life for me to remember it off the top of my head. My bullet journal is simple to follow and easy to read, so with a quick glance I can visualize all my obligations for that day, week and month. Many of you are in the exact same position. It’s overwhelming to try to tackle all of our responsibilities without guidance. The Bullet Journal, for me, has been the most effective method of organization above other pre-formatted planners and agendas because I am the one originating all of the information. Instead of buying a (probably overpriced) planner that has already done all of the work for you, Bullet Journaling is an exercise in taking control of your schedule and how you maintain it, and I genuinely believe that I have more precision, clarity and discipline when it comes to organizing my life.
- Personalization: The best thing about the bullet journal is that it is completely personalized. One of the most frustrating things is buying a planner that already has the dates laid out for you but being unable to use half of it because the months don’t line up with the school year. When my classes start in August, why is it so hard to find a planner that doesn’t start in January of that year? Bullet journaling allows you to determine your own timeline. The majority of store-bought competitors have pre-determined templates with categories that many of us won’t find necessary and which simply waste space and paper, sitting unused between the pages we actually utilize. Most students in 2019 have no need for an address book or phone number section, and yet they are repeatedly shoehorned into all planners. Bullet Journals, on the other hand, allow you to optimize the usage of your journal by allowing you complete freedom on what to include and what not to. You can simply keep it to a monthly spread or you could dedicate pages to mood tracking, goals, fitness, reading lists and other such things.
- Therapeutic: Another underrated and often overlooked reason for bullet journaling is that it tends to be very relaxing. It is productive, and doing something productive always boosts my self-esteem. It is also a quiet and reflective time, something I don’t get enough of these days. There is a sort of relief that comes with finishing a page in your journal and being freshly aware of the days and weeks to come and what they hold. In taking such command in organizing my tasks, I often find that my mind has also been clarified. It is certainly refreshing to have a grip on my life for that brief moment, something that is very rare for me.
- Aesthetics: Another wonderful aspect of bullet journaling is the full control of the aesthetics. You do not have to be an artist to make journaling fun and pretty. I cannot draw a distinguishable stick figure to save my life, but with tape, stickers and pretty markers, I am always proud of the finished product. Bullet Journals can be any type of notebook you like. You don’t have to worry about shopping around for a planner that suits both your needs and which also appeals to your stylistic tastes. Often I have to either sacrifice style or content with whatever I purchase. You can buy a notebook of any size, color or texture. Most bullet journalists use notebooks with dotted pages rather than lines which allows unimpeded (yet subtly guided) utilization of each page. However, many others use grid lines, blank pages, or even lines if that is what they find most comfortable. It is entirely up to the creator to choose color schemes, layouts, drawings, decorations and more.
- Know your needs: you do not have to include the parts of your life that are not priorities to you. Just because you see other people tracking their diets does not mean you have to!
- Practice: there is nothing worse than having to rip out a page in your journal because you forgot that February only has 28 days and you drew out 31 squares in black ink. I often lightly pencil in my basic layout while looking at my phone calendar to make sure I know what days of the week correspond with each date. This isn’t necessary, but something I have found useful nonetheless
- Inspiration: While I don’t suggest that you copy other people’s art or steal their ideas, many people like to post their bullet journaling so that others can become inspired. Instagram and Pinterest are great places to get ideas for materials, color schemes, themes and fonts.
- A notebook! This can be anything you like. I use a small sized hardcover notebook with dot gridded pages.
- Good pens (or pencils, markers, etc.). If journaling is going to become a useful part of your life, treat yourself to some nice materials!
- A ruler (because even with the dots to guide me I still can’t draw a straight line).
- Washi tape. This is not necessary, but I have an addiction. Washi tape is life-changing and it comes in a seemingly infinite variety of patterns and colors. I love to use this tape to border my pages and help guide my themes.