Last August, while in the midst of lockdown and quarantine, I decided to start a bullet journal. After seeing countless YouTube videos of masterful journalists rendering perfect designs onto dotted journals, I set my mind to begin one as soon as school started. Armed with reference photos from Google Images, Youtube, and Reddit, I began my first bullet journal in a half-full old notebook I used for calligraphy practice. This was one of the best decisions I made last fall.
The new year came, and so did a new journal. This time, I got an actual Bullet Journal.
Now, what exactly is a bullet journal? A bullet journal is typically a notebook that is dotted instead of lined. These dots serve a purpose- they allow the journalist freedom. With these dots, I can draw graphs, create boxes, and write neatly without needing lined paper. I typically use my bullet journal as a calendar, a to-do list, and a homework helper. Others use it to track their habits, plan events, and even manage business projects. Here are some reasons I think bullet journaling is so beneficial, and why I think you should start your own!
One of the main reasons I began using a bullet journal was because I was prone to getting behind with my schoolwork. I needed something to keep me on track during the new school year, especially with three AP classes.
In the past, I have always written to-do lists for myself, because my brain tends to remember and process things more deeply when they are physically written down. Starting this bullet journal was an extrapolation of this to-do list habit into a giant to-do book! I started a bullet journal in August, and I continue to use it to help me structure plans for school efficiently. Below is an example of my homework plans last January.
Here I listed out the days and assignments needed to to be completed, and colored the dots/highlighted them when finished. A very colorful and interesting page results!
Using this journal helps my organization immensely. Using yearly, weekly, and daily spreads* help me plan ahead and keep myself on top of things. One of the most useful and efficient spreads is a weekly spread. A weekly spread is what I use to track my work each day in a week. These layouts help me track my weight, remind me of due dates, and most importantly, organize my homework.
*A spread just means a specific layout used for organizing or planning. E.g. monthly spreads help you see what’s in store for a specific month, yearly spreads help you schedule things from a yearly perspective.
I have used my bullet journal to plan rather major events. From orchestra auditions to birthdays to important tests, creating this bullet journal has been very helpful in planning for important dates. When I was practicing for my violin audition, I used my calendar to note how many days I had left to practice and how many hours I needed to prepare. This journal is also a major asset in study planning. Below is an example of a study plan for my SAT and ACT, which were within weeks of each other. I was able to use this guide to keep my studying on pace for two major exams I had scheduled in a single month.
This might not be for everyone, but personally, I enjoy doodling and coloring my bullet journal. Others might like to keep their journals simple and minimal, but I think that one of the most rewarding aspects of my bullet journal is the art. Using the journal as a homework helper and daily tracker is very beneficial for scheduling and structure, but decorating my journal is also a pleasant way for me to de-stress. When I’m not using my journal to check on my daily tasks or organize my next big event, I have a grand time decorating my journal to my heart’s content.
I have used a bullet journal for over six months now, and it has been very rewarding. Not only has it been very useful in terms of scheduling and school, it’s also become a fantastic hobby. If you’re looking for a way to organize your life but want to add some flair to it, bullet journaling might be your answer! If you enjoy doodling, lettering, and drawing, bullet journaling might keep you entertained as well as organized.
Those two things combined- happiness AND structure- should be great causes for you to start a bullet journal for your own life.