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Why I Started Bullet Journaling and What I’ve Learned

Sometimes boredom is the greatest inspiration of all time and life is just a blank page... literally.

After it was announced that classes would be fully remote after spring break, I found myself endlessly pacing around my house, trying to find random things to occupy myself with. When I had finished organizing and reorganizing my room for the millionth time and had finished watching every imaginable show on Netflix, I decided to check out some videos on YouTube.

Perhaps it was just a pure coincidence, or maybe it was fate, but the very first video in my recommendations was one about bullet journaling. From there, I fell down a rabbit hole and before I knew it, hours had gone by and I was completely enraptured in the world of bullet journaling. From the minimalist designs to the more drawing intensive spreads, I was amazed at the various ways people were able to customize their journals to suit their individual needs and styles.

In a nutshell, bullet journaling is a method of personal organization that was originally created by Ryder Carroll. However different people might use bullet journaling for categorizing different areas of their lives such as their to-do lists, grocery lists, weekly and monthly habit trackers, birthday reminders, etc. The main idea centers around finding the most useful and efficient organization system tailored to an individual’s needs.

[bf_image id="q66y2a-b74im8-fucbkr"] After binge-watching seemingly every video about bullet journaling on YouTube, I decided it was time to start my own. After purchasing a plain dot grid notebook, I began making a list of the various pages and details I wanted to include in my bullet journal. Next, I began looking for inspiration on different platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram, and even a simple Google search provided me with a plethora of results. Since I had just learned about bullet journaling, I was amazed at how big and diverse the community was.

However, I think I began with too high of expectations for myself because, despite my very best efforts, the few beginning pages in my journal looked nothing close to the pictures I saw on the internet. In all seriousness, my spreads probably resembled artwork done by a kindergarten class. Though I don’t consider myself to be a talented artist, I was still disappointed by the sketches that I created. In addition to my failed attempts at drawing, I found measuring the dots on the page in order to get the perfect proportions to be redundant and time-consuming. To say that I wasn’t very impressed with the end product would be an understatement, but the good thing about starting at the bottom is that the only way from there is to go up.

After beginning my bullet journal in March, I’ve had plenty of time to improve and learn what style works for me. With every single month, page, or design, I continued to experiment with what worked best for me and remove the things that didn’t. As someone who likes to stick to a routine, I found that changing up my monthly spreads really helped me become more creative and versatile with the materials I had with me. There are plenty of beautiful bullet journals on the internet that have very elaborate designs, however, I realized that if I wanted to recreate a spread, I would have to buy extra materials. As a result, I tried different ways to use the materials I did have to create certain designs that I liked.

[bf_image id="q5iocm-4u2glc-1sv4lw"] I think I speak for anyone who bullet journals or has tried to bullet journal when I say that it takes a lot of time. It definitely depends on how many pages you are creating and how much detail you’re adding to them, but for the most part, it can take some time to finish. At the very beginning of my bullet journal journey, I was overwhelmed at how long it would take to finish setting up a page, and there were plenty of times when I decided that it just wasn’t for me. However, I quickly started to enjoy doing art again, and the momentary reprieve I got from my usually fast-paced life that consisted of staring at a computer screen all day. Even as I constantly made mistakes in my journal, I realized that each time was an opportunity for me to think of a creative way to fix and learn from it.

When I began my bullet journal, I never imagined the huge impact it would have on me and the various lessons I would learn. Whether it be learning to make the most out of mistakes to falling back in love with creating art again, bullet journaling has taught me a lot about myself as a person and about the things that inspire me.

Vanan Phan

U Mass Amherst '21

Vanan is a graduate from UMass Amherst with a bachelor's degree in English and letters of specialization in Creative Writing, and the Study and Practice of Writing, in addition to a certificate in Professional Writing and Technical Communication . When she is not writing for Her Campus, she can be found watching Youtube videos about people talking about books, working out at the gym, or staring off into space.
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