My Reflections on Bullet Journaling After Two Years
They’re all over Pinterest and Instagram these days – bullet journals. They’re usually cute little dot grid notebooks filled with doodles, stickers and study notes written in the most beautiful hand. They’re aesthetic symbols of productivity and having-it-together-ness, two things that I did not have at the end of my freshman year of college. I still don’t have it all together, in fact. At least, not for very long periods of time. I did give the bullet journal a shot, but it fizzled out after a few months.
Those cute Pinterest posts wouldn’t leave me alone, though, so I tried again in July of 2018. This time, I stuck with it.
Has it cured my procrastination or turned me into an organized, artistic beast? No. It has been fun, though, and it has helped, which is a win in my book. Here are some things I’ve learned over the past two years.
- It can be whatever you want it to be
Back when I used regular planners, I was often frustrated by the pages that never got used, like grocery lists and contact information – things I prefer to have on my phone. To me, those things just take up valuable space in my notebook. Sometimes the layout of a weekly schedule might not quite fit my needs, either.
In drawing your own spreads, the possibilities are endless. You could dedicate one page to each day or squeeze an entire month on one or two pages. I prefer to have a monthly overview page and two pages per week for more detailed notes, but it took me a while to figure that out which leads right into the next point:
- Trial and error are sometimes needed
I’ve tried using them multiple times. I love the idea of them, but they just don’t work for me. I forget to fill them out or they don’t provide enough incentive for me to do anything. I have several blank habit trackers tucked among monthly schedules long passed and that’s okay. Now I know I don’t need them, and I can use the space I save by ditching them to try something potentially more useful.
Another example for me is artsy spreads. I love looking at all the creative things people do in their journals with watercolors or special stickers. I drew on my spreads for the better part of a year, but it took too much time and energy. Now I just use plain lines for my weekly schedules. It isn’t as pretty as I’d like it to be, but it really helps me be more productive, and that’s a win for me.
- It grows and changes along with you
Like any creative project, inspiration or ideas for your bullet journal can come from anywhere. I saw a comment on Reddit about merging your diary with your bullet journal by flipping it upside down and working from the back, and I’m considering trying it soon. Just in case you happen to be anything like me, here are a few things I like to include that might give you ideas for your own bullet journal:
- Monthly reflection pages – It can be relaxing to look back at your schedule and reflect on what you did and how you feel about it.
- Class schedule spread – This is another one I got from Reddit In addition to notes on the time, location, and professor for each class, I also like to include information on where I got my textbooks so I know when and where to return them.
- Color coding tasks/events – This got me through my junior year of college. Every due date or homework task goes in the same place as my non-school tasks, but with ink colors corresponding to each class. It turned out to be really helpful for visualizing what I need to be working on and when.
- Different shaped bullets – If you go to the same place or meet the same person a lot, having a special bullet shape for them might save some space in your schedule. For example, I use a tiny heart to indicate an event with my boyfriend. Now instead of “date with boyfriend,” all I have to write is “♥ date.”
There are lots of other things to figure out, like what notebook brand or size you like best. Another example is what kind of pen you should use for just the right thickness to avoid bleeding or smudging. Overall, though, the best thing to keep in mind, especially when you’re just starting out, is to loosen up. No one has to look at those pages except for you. If you mess up, leave it. Tear it out. Cover it up. Go with what you like best. The rules are yours to make.
Edited by Princess Berry