“Help track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.” — Ryder Carroll
If you’ve ever met me, you’ve probably heard me talk about bullet journalling. Before my bullet journal, I was the person who was always late, missed emails, and forgot about deadlines. My life was overall a mess because I had so many responsibilities, yet didn’t put in the effort to track them.
Bullet journalling changed all of this.
I’ve had my journal for a little over a year now. From calendars to habit-tracking, this system has helped me hold myself accountable and keep track of assignments, appointments, and self-care. I’ve also been able to shamelessly indulge in my love for pens and highlighters.
As students—for most, now as online students—time management is key. After only a week’s worth of online classes, it’s been a struggle to keep up with announcements from professors and assignments. Now more than ever I have needed my bullet journal to organize my life.
Here’s how it can work for you too:
What is a bullet journal?
A bullet journal starts as a blank journal, typically with dots to provide a grid-like pattern on the pages (my favourite journal). From there, you create a system that works best for you! The best definition of the Bullet Journal comes from the creator of the system himself, Ryder Carroll.
“The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above.”
I love the Bullet Journal system because of how customizable it is. It can be used to track tasks, jot down ideas, document your moods, or create goals. These lists or calendars can be simple, or my personal preference, super creative. It’s all about what works for you and your schedule.
Okay, now you might be overwhelmed by just how many options there are for your journal. Let’s break down the different types of spreads you can incorporate into your new journal.
1. Future log
The future log is your one-stop-shop for your year at a glance. This is the perfect place to pop in your syllabus at the beginning of the year. You can also include birthdays, trips, and long-term goal deadlines.
2. Monthly log/calendar
Here you have your basic, monthly calendar. I like to include the items I put into my future log here, as well as more short term plans like appointments, lunch dates, or homework I need to complete.
3. Habit tracker
Every month, I include a habit tracker in my journal. This tracker holds me accountable for completing my daily or weekly habits. If you are wanting to form a new habit, this spread is great. By crossing off each day you complete your task, your brain releases dopamine—the chemical that makes you feel pleasure. The better you feel about crossing off that habit, the more you’ll feel motivated to do it!
4. Mood tracker
Another tracker that is amazing for your mental health. Your mood is connected to everything—your productivity, eating habits, and sleep. Maybe this month you’ve been swamped with tasks and haven’t done enough self-care, so you’ve felt anxious. By tracking your mood, you can connect a lot of dots, pun most definitely intended.
5. Weekly log
Probably the most used pages in my journal. With my weekly spread, I include the longterm dates I set in my future log, any dates in my monthly log that fall into that week, and my weekly to-do lists. This is where the magic happens. I find I can break bigger projects into digestible tasks that I can follow-through with throughout the week.
6. Optional, monthly wrap-up
This is where my time-management system meets a diary. At the end of the month, I like to summarize how the month went, document any memories, include Polaroids or ticket-stubs, and what I want to achieve the next month. This spread allows for me to be self-reflective and look back on my moods, how productive I was, and what habits I rocked or skipped out on.
So, why bullet journalling?
The reason bullet journalling works so well is that it slips in and out of your life seamlessly. I find when I would buy myself pre-made calendars, I would start using them and when my life slowed down, I would stop. This left months of unused calendars left in my schedule and pages wasted.
Instead of waiting for the next year to purchase your planner, you can start bullet journaling now! Get planning.
Struggling to get productive while attending class from bed? Check out this foolproof guide to having a productive semester.