Making bullet journaling work for you

by - November 08, 2020


Bullet journaling was admittedly something I first heard about through the internet, especially when it became more of a craze and popular thing. I had no idea what it was beforehand. For those who may not be aware, bullet journaling is a method of personal organisation contained all in one notebook and something you can put as much or as little effort into as you like. It is a way of organising everything in your life - that can be from books you want to read, to deadlines. I was initially unsure whether it was something I could incorporate into my life. One Google of bullet journals will show you works of art and very intricate designs. It can be quite daunting and seem very impractical as you often get very pretty and time-consuming spreads. In the last year or so, however, it has become one of my favourite ways of organising myself. I have loved how adaptable and useful it has become for me and I wanted to share why I think this is something anyone can incorporate into their lifestyle - how it can allow you to feel more put together. 

I became drawn to bullet journaling because of the creative element in it. As a law student, I often miss the more creative side in me in terms of drawing, art. I have found typical planners very restrictive, even more so as a more spontaneous person. I either lacked space in some days or had too much for certain days and did not like the lack of control and forced structure in planners. I also hated that with this, there seemed such a waste of paper for days which were not as busy. I initially did not commit to bullet journaling because many images online suggested it was too time-consuming.  At the end of the day, what I was looking for and needed was for organisation purposes and getting my life together - not another huge time-consuming task that I would need to do before being able to organise my schedule. However, bullet journaling as a method of personal organisation has really helped me and so I wanted to talk about how you can use it in a more practical way. How you can make bullet journaling work for you.

  1. Don’t compare your bullet journal to online images. The whole point of a bullet journal is that it meant to be for you- work for you. It is meant to adapt to your lifestyle and give you more flexibility. I think a lot of people are put off trying bullet journaling because of the time aspect, but it really can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. It could just be To-Do lists if you wanted to, combined with personal reflections or reminders of deadlines. Personally, I find I spend a little more time on a cover for each month, adding a calendar and doodles as a self-care exercise. However, from day to day the use for my bullet journal is To Do lists. One for each day split into To Do, Should do, and Would like to along with any deadlines highlighted in blue. Splitting my to-dos into categories helps clear my mind by writing out everything on my mind and also at the same time prioritising what needs to be done.

  2. Add everything relevant to your life in one place. Those random lists that end up on your notes app in your phone - add them to your journal. One of my favourite things about bullet journaling is that it is my whole life in a notebook. It is easy to keep track of things because I have notes section of anything important that would otherwise get lost. The categories are meaningful to me and it means that other notes of things I often want to remember or check out do not lose purpose or get forgotten about. 

  3. Don’t be afraid to experiment. I initially added categories to my journal that I did not end up using. I played around with different symbols until I found a key that worked for me. I added sections such as monthly trackers and tested whether it was something I was committed to and found helpful. My bullet journal now looks different to my previous one as I have played around with different things.

  4. Make mistakes - I use bullet journaling as an outlet. One of the main advantages of it is being able to let go a little and just go with the flow. You will not find the most effective way of organisation for you if you are not willing to make mistakes along the way. Bullet journaling is meant to make your life less stressful, not more. 

  5. It does not need to be super fancy - make it something that is practical for you. If you have time to make your bullet journal look artistic, go for it. If not, that is OK. If you know you will not get use out of a mood tracker, don’t add it just because you have seen it is a popular thing to add to a bullet journal. If you know you just need an events and reminders page then just add that.
Maybe bullet journalling won't work for you and that is okay. I think if you enjoy a lot of structure and have a fairly consistent workload day-to-day, you may prefer a standard planner because it will save you time by providing the necessary tabs/tables and you won't miss the extra room for flexibility. Maybe you don't like the traditional pen and paper style of planning and a fully digital form of organisation is for you. However, if you find that traditional planning methods don’t quite work for you and find them restrictive, I would recommend giving bullet journaling a go. I ended up trying it for fun because I found planners expensive for what they are and very limiting. I am glad I made my bullet journal my own and functional to me, paying little attention to online trends because it really helps me. Now, I can’t see myself going back to a traditional planner any time soon. 

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