Let’s Talk About Bullet Journaling
by Amanda Guan
The summer after my senior year of high school, I realized I had, like, no hobbies. Unless you count regular trips to Yogurtland with my friends. This is where bullet journaling came into the picture.
I could write an entire (and unnecessarily lengthy) blog post about my thoughts on how society unfortunately pushes productivity over enjoyment, but for now I’ll just insist that bullet journaling checked both of those boxes for me. If you’re not familiar with what bullet journaling is, the inventor of the system, Ryder Carroll, describes it as “a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system…designed to help you organize your what while you remain mindful of your why.” On paper, that can look like a lot of things, but for me, it’s ultimately a customizable agenda — basically drawing out your own spreads from scratch. It’s helped me stay organized with work throughout college, but it’s also been a creative outlet and a good way to check in on my mental and emotional health.
So if you’ve been looking for a sign to start bullet journaling, this is it. If you haven’t been looking for a sign, you should keep reading anyways. Maybe I’ll convince you. In my 3 years of bullet journaling, I’ve found the following spreads (listed in no particular order) to be my essentials:
1. Future Log
This is a place to look at your year at a glance. It’s really easy to just flip to the front of your journal and check when your exams are ahead of time, especially if you haven’t gotten to making a spread for that month or week. Also, it’ll help you remember birthdays.
2. Gratitude Log
The reason I said this list is in no particular order is because this one, although #2, is my favorite. It’s very simple to make and use — write down the dates of the month on a page, and every day, write down something (or things!) that you’re grateful for. It doesn’t always have to be something grand that happened — sometimes I’m just grateful that my coffee tasted really good in the morning. Gratitude logs have helped me appreciate the little things in life, and it’s been a great way to ground myself even when I’m stressed out about midterms.
3. Brain Dump
This is literally a blank page for anything — grocery lists, doodles, a funny quote from a friend, meeting notes, that one startup idea that you’ll handle the business side of. It’s the page for when you really need to write something down, and you’re not sure where to put it.
Some things that might be holding you back:
“But Amanda, I’m not artistic!” You don’t need to be! That’s the greatest part about bullet journaling — it is completely your own. It can be simple; it can be extravagant. It’s whatever works for you. The bullet journal started as an extremely minimal practice :^)
“But Amanda, I don’t have fancy pens or tools!” Again, you don’t need to have these things. Grab a sheet of paper or a notebook and a writing utensil and you’re set.
“But Amanda, I’d waste so much time trying to make it perfect!” I actually think bullet journaling has helped me address my own perfectionism in a lot of ways. Sometimes lines aren’t straight, or I write “Thursday” twice on a weekly spread. With enough journaling, I’ve come to accept that mistakes happen. Cross it out and keep going.
“But Amanda, I’ll probably start it and not keep up with it!” Tbh, same. I’ve missed some gratitude entries because I’m human. I like to keep things exciting and do monthly themes (i.e. Avatar, Phineas and Ferb, sushi, oceans, succulents, etc.). Or I’ll add a fun spread like “the best episodes of The Office.”
So basically what I’m saying is, if shelter-in-place has you in the market for a new hobby…
tl;dr i love bullet journaling and i hope you do too