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If you have ever been guilty of staying up until 2 A.M. on YouTube (like me), you’ve probably stumbled across a few bullet journaling videos. They may be videos about monthly set ups, journal spread ideas for college students, or tutorials for different hand lettering styles- you name it and I’ve watched it


One summer night before my sophomore year of college, I came across a bullet journal video and was immediately inspired. I am now in my second year of bullet journaling and couldn’t be happier. 


So, what is bulleting journaling anyway?

To me, bullet journaling is basically my DIY planner. We all know how excited most people get when buying a new planner for the school year. There’s just something so satisfyingabout whipping out colored pens and filling in important dates in cute calendars blocks. 


Planners make me feel so organized.Planners make me feel like I have my life together, even when I don’t.  My love for planners and multi-colored writing utensils is so strong that I immediately knew bullet journaling is for me. 


So, if you’re a planning and pen guru interested in bullet journal life- here’s some tips to get you started: 



Realistically, the two items really needed for bullet journaling are a blank notebook and something to write with. I personally love colors and decorating, so naturally I ordered multicolored calligraphy pens, highlighters, and markers from Amazon. 


People typically buy a notebook with dotted pages for bullet journaling because lined paper might make the pages look too cluttered and busy. Although the dots serve as a guide, I personally am not gifted with the talent of free handedly drawing a straight line, so I made sure to get myself a ruler as well. Once you have your notebook and writing utensils, you should be good to go!


2- Master Syllabus

One of my favorite spreads to make (and my most useful spread) is my master syllabus. I draw four tiny calendars. For the fall semester, there is a calendar for September, October, November, and December. 


And for the spring semester, I draw calendars for February, March, April, and May. (August and January aren’t included in these since I only have classes during those months for only one week each). I then look through my syllabi for each of my classes and highlight due dates or dates of exams. Having these important dates all in one place makes my life so much easier and I feel much more organized! Check out my master syllabus below! 

3- Checklists

To-do lists and checklists are super important to me, since stuff tends to pile up and I just can’t keep everything in my head! Before I move back into school for the fall semester, I make a master list of ALL the things I need to bring with me for my dorm. It’s quite a lot, but it makes my life so much easier when I’m packing for school. 

4- Calendars and Weekly Spreads

To me, the most important aspects of a bullet journal are calendars for each month and weekly spreads following those calendars. Every planner you could buy has these, so you could use a regular planner’s set up as inspiration for your own. In your calendar, you could label birthdays, due dates, holidays, and any other thing you would put on a regular, pre-made calendar. Weekly spreads may get more specific, including daily to-do lists and other important tasks and events. 

Some More Important Info:

If all these colors and doodles intimidate you or just aren’t your thing, but bullet journaling still interests you, that is completelyfine! I think minimalistic bullet journal spreads are just as beautiful as ones that are decked out! 


After all, the main purpose of bullet journals is to keep your life organized, and you can set up your pages in any way you want! Besides being my DIY planner, my bullet journal also acts as a way to express my creativity. Some people see my journal and say, “Doing all this would literally stress me out.” 


For me, it’s therapeutic setting up all my calendars and weekly to-do lists. Bullet journaling has become one of my favorite hobbies, and it helps me organize my life which is a plus! 


If you feel inspired to explore bullet journaling and end up watching YouTube video after YouTube video or scrolling through Instagram posts about it, remember to never compare your spreads to other bullet journals!


 Don’t feel bad if your handwriting isn’t as beautiful as Amanda Rach Lee’s (I highly recommend checking out her YouTube channel- she’s the bullet journal queen). Don’t get discouraged if your flower doodles aren’t as perfect as the ones you see on Instagram. As long as your bullet journal makes you feel organized and productive, that’s what’s important. 


Happy bullet journaling!





Sheryl Barba

Scranton '21

Sheryl Barba is a junior occupational therapy student at The University of Scranton. She loves yoga, jigsaw puzzles, and aggressively smiling at dogs she sees walking down the street.
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