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Bullet Journaling: You Don’t Have to be a Master Planner to Keep Track of What Matters to You.
by Katie Blair
March 31st 2021
Bullet Journaling: You don't have to be a master planner to keep track of what matters to you.
by Katie Blair
My planner goes with me everywhere. I never leave it behind in a coffee shop or a library–– it is always with me. Yes, this colorful word vomit of events, assignments, and birthdays helps me remember everything I need to, but there’s an inescapable sense of chaos splayed over the pages. To give you an idea, I didn’t have enough space to record my shopping list, so it ended up on a calendar page; I was forced to write email addresses from potential employers on my section for personal goals. This chaos affects my productivity, from missing Zoom appointments to forgetting birthdays.
One of my family members recommended the “bullet journal” to help ease some of this madness. I had no clue what this was, so she texted me an article about how to start one. It’s a confusing concept because there is no one perfect way to do it, and every bullet-journaler has the creative freedom to do what they please. You can sift through hundreds of unique bullet journaling tutorials and templates and still not know where to start. I was extremely overwhelmed but ready to try it out.
Overview of the Bullet Journal and its method:
Created by Ryder Carroll, the bullet journal is a “mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system." Carroll received positive feedback upon creating his website, bulletjournal.com, which describes the intricacies of his notebook. This led to collaboration with famed journal company Leuchtturm following critical acclaim from the Pen Addict podcast.
Developing this idea further and further, Carroll caught the Internet’s attention. His original YouTube bullet journal video now has over 12M views; on Tik Tok, the hashtag ‘bullet journal’ has over 388M views. According to the copious amount of praise from these productivity-seekers, I needed to take on this journey myself.
My next steps:
After deciding on a weekly ‘spread,’ or organizational template, I planned out my week, thanks to the help of Diary of a Journal Planner. This was a simple spread, nothing I felt would be unbearably difficult to maintain.
However, three weekly attempts to keep the journal as a productive tool turned into more of a distraction than a productive hobby. I spent way too much time doodling, highlighting, and drawing and not writing down my tasks. This often ate away more time than doing some of the tasks themselves.
I am not anxious because I plop my chaos into a planner, I am anxious because I do not know how to combine planning and journaling. These are two very different tasks, and my mind could not process feelings and tasks simultaneously. Therefore, I made my bullet journal into a paper type of FitBit.
What I tracked:
In a FitBit fashion, I tracked how many hours I slept, how much water I drank, my mood for the day, how many hours I worked out, and my stress levels. These entries still helped me calm my anxieties and execute my goals.
The family member who originally recommended the bullet journal method was surprised by my entries. They use their bullet journal for everything they do, which clearly did not work out for me. They thought that I did not put forth any effort in trying out this journaling system.
Little did they know, they were wrong. Based on my health tracking, I figured out why the planning of my life was so chaotic. I was not feeding myself healthy foods, I was not getting enough exercise, and I was not sleeping enough. This is the trifecta for feeling physically and mentally out of control. Ultimately, my productivity in those areas of my life improved. From there, the academic and work-related parts of my life changed for the better.
As the bullet journaling community affirms: there is not a specific way to bullet journal. There are plenty of fantastic YouTubers who can teach you how to bullet journal, such as Inprint, studytee, and, of course, the Bullet Journal channel. Pinterest also has bloggers who provide free resources, such as Planning Mindfully, Boho Berry, and Simply Brandi Renee.
If there is a specific purpose for your bullet journal, the topic is out there. Bullet journaling was an unknown and intimidating thing for me to grasp. As I found out, there are plenty of ways to become a more productive person overall, thanks to bullet journaling. You don’t have to be a master planner to keep track of what matters to you.
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Meet the creative
My name is Katie Blair, and I am a junior at Gonzaga University studying Business Administration and Leadership Studies. For MNTN Co., I am a Writing and Blogging intern. I love to sing in Gonzaga’s choral program, and I am a part of the Gonzaga Women in Business club. I enjoy reading about feminist and critical race theories, writing, painting, and listening to records. After graduating, I plan to work in the commercial advertising industry and/or with NGOs to help make the world a better place.