With classes and other responsibilities moving online, it’s more important now than ever to remain organized and motivated. I’ve experimented with many organizational styles from traditional planners to writing daily to-do lists in the notes application on my phone. Over the past few months, I’ve found that using a form of bullet journaling is most effective.
Bullet journaling is an organizational system that was made popular when Ryder Carroll, a web designer based in New York, released a video showing how he used a single notebook to keep track of his plans and tasks, rather than having this information spread out between multiple notebooks and calendars.
There is a plethora of bullet journal instructions and tutorials available online (I recommend watching AmandaRachLee’s YouTube videos if you’re looking for some inspiration). In this article however, I’m going to focus on sharing what I’ve done to make bullet journaling rewarding and sustainable for me in the long term.
Not comparing yourself to others is an important principle to implement in most areas of life, and bullet journaling is not an exception. As someone who is not artistically inclined (and by that I mean I can barely draw a stick figure), the idea of starting a bullet journal seemed impractical when I looked at people creating beautiful art with their journals.
While these examples are inspiring and aesthetically pleasing, I realized that it’s not beneficial for me to have that goal in mind when starting my own – it’s definitely not an efficient method of organization if I spend more time stressing over certain designs than actually completing the tasks I write down.
Additionally, I learned that it’s most useful as an organizational tool when I’m open to changing my layouts. When I first started bullet journaling, I was so focused on sticking to a format that I planned out for a certain period of time that it became distracting and frustrating. This took away from one of the main reasons I was drawn to using a bullet journal – that I can design it to fit my exact needs.
When I shifted my approach to using it in the way that was most helpful and motivating for me in a given moment, the method became an extremely effective way to organize my tasks, plans, and goals. I typically dedicate pages to more long-term goals on dates, such as the start of a new quarter, followed by a layout of my general schedule for that time period. Each month, I design simple calendars that I continuously fill out with reminders, and I write out daily spreads of to-do lists and plans. This general format currently works for me, but minor components change on a regular basis, and I’m sure it will continue to evolve as aspects of my life shift and it’s no longer the best way for me to stay organized.
Bullet journaling is so effective for me because it’s adaptable. I can truly make it my own, which not only makes it useful for staying organized and productive, but also a great way to reflect on my habits and look back on memories because I’m creating a record of what I’m doing for a certain time period.
If you’ve been wanting to get more organized or try out a new system for doing so, consider starting a bullet journal and keep in mind the goal of practicality rather than perfection.