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Now is the Time to Start Bullet Journaling

Organising and planning is not a new thing, nor is writing lists and keeping calendar diaries. Though they can be very helpful for keeping track of your life, these endless bits of paper and different places to record parts of your life can often be overwhelming and can actually add more stress to your life rather than relieving you of it. 

Bullet Journaling is the organisation technique a lot of people are turning to when it all becomes too much. The idea was first created in 2013 by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer from Brooklyn, New York.  He described it as ‘an analogue system that will help you track the past, organise the past and plan the future.’

It’s about keeping track of anything you want, all in one place. You can log your dreams, your fitness goals, start a food diary, keep all your important passwords, shopping lists, wish lists, books you’ve read, books you want to read, any list that would prior have been lying around your home just waiting to be lost. 

In the current climate, most people do not have a huge amount of plans and events to keep track of, but bullet journaling is still a great way of alleviating stress and anxiety, especially in times of a pandemic when the world can feel very scary and lonely. Even if your calendar is empty for the foreseeable, the process of creating a space for your lockdown to-do lists or goals can be soothing and relaxing when your mind may be racing.

In a typical bullet journal there are certain elements or ‘spreads’ that are most used. 



These are your logs that you fill in daily. This could be a tracker of how much water you drank, if you took your medication, how many cups of coffee you’ve consumed, how many pages of your book you’ve read. You name it, it can track whatever you want. Dailies can also be somewhere to put your daily goals and to-do lists, be it personal or work-related, so that they are all in one place.



This can be anything from a weekly expense tracker to an overall look at what your week will look like, assignments that are due, friends who need to be called, chores that need to be done, etc.



Again, this is the breakdown of a log done by month for things that are outside of the week you’re currently in, it’s a place to plan your future events: friends birthdays, doctor appointments, trips away, etc. So long as it’s clear and easy for you to understand. 

In my personal bullet journal, I have a self-drawn calendar, an overall monthly to-do list, a to-do list for next month, an expenses log, a paycheck log (so I know if there’s been a mistake in my pay), and a habit tracker (doing workouts, drinking water etc). I sometimes add in lists or spreads simply because I have something worrying me and I need to write it down somewhere.


Depending on the time of year, I add spreads such as packing lists for upcoming holidays, or present ideas and budgets for Christmas and birthdays.  

Bullet journaling is a way of managing your whole life in a simple, easy and creative way that can instantly alleviate the stress of planning. 

You do not need to be an artist or have great handwriting to be a successful bullet journal user. Carroll says that ‘Bullet journaling is always about function over form, right? And to be very clear about that, form can mean sloppy or beautiful. It doesn’t matter what your bullet journal looks like. It’s about how it makes you feel, and how effective it is in moving you towards the things that matter to you.”

If you want to start, getting a nice clean notebook is the first step. Of course, you can buy an actual Bullet Journal created by Carroll himself, but there are plenty of similar and cheaper versions available. The best notebooks are blank and unlined. My journal is the ‘Leuchtturm 1917 Dotted Journal’ which is a common notebook used by many. The dots are perfect for structuring your spreads without the need for harsh lines. 

Start simple, intricate designs can come later, and get comfortable and used to the system. There are thousands of videos on YouTube to show you exactly how to start. 

If you’re looking for inspiration, simply look up the #bulletjournal hashtag on Instagram or Pinterest and you will be met with hundreds of spread ideas, both simple and more complex. Just make sure it’s exactly how you want it to look and exactly how you want it to make you feel.

21 year old journalism student
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