I’m sure many of you are starting to feel the new school year looming over our heads. For some of us, it’s just around the corner! One of the biggest things I think about as the beginning of the school year approaches is organization. It’s the ideal time to reorganize your room and desk areas before the busyness picks up again, and it’s especially important to make sure you feel organized with all of your classes, extracurriculars, and other responsibilities. One of the most common ways to tackle all of this is with a planner. However, if you find that the format of most planners doesn’t work for you, or if you’d like to spend a little extra time each week relaxing and putting together visuals to organize your week with, a bullet journal might be a fun thing to try out!
A bullet journal is, simply put, a blank journal that you use as a planner. The original system was created by Ryder Carroll, and here is the link to his video explaining the system. I highly recommend looking at the video, as it gives you a lot of ideas for how to use your own bullet journal! However, the idea of bullet journaling is so customizable that you hardly have to follow his system for it to work out. In this post, I’m just going to give a brief rundown of a few things that I find important for my bullet journal practice, and include a few pictures of my old bullet journal from 2017, just as examples.
What should I include in my bullet journal?
Watching Ryder Carroll’s video and looking at some premade planners will give you a good idea of what is helpful in a bullet journal! I like to use a couple pages to make an index at the beginning of my journal and number my pages as I go along, returning back to the index once in a while to record what I’ve added to my journal. A future log is also helpful at the beginning of the journal; think of it as an overview of your whole year. I like to spread out all 12 months over four pages. Here’s an example of how to use a future log; if it’s January and I already know that I have an essay due in March, then I can just write that down in my March section so I don’t forget about it!
At the beginning of each month I create a calendar for myself. Ryder Carroll has a good method for doing this, but you can also draw out a traditional calendar if that works better for you. This way, as you get closer to deadlines and events, you can write it down in your monthly calendar to keep track of them. Here’s a picture of one of my old monthly spreads (back when I had more time to make it neat and pretty!) to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
Lastly, at the beginning of each week, I like to write out a weekly spread for myself. This helps me keep track of things more day-to-day, and it’s really calming to be able to see your whole week spread out in front of you, especially when life gets busy. Here’s another picture of an old weekly spread of mine that’s particularly pretty (mostly since I can’t find my current bullet journal to take pictures of), but again, with your imagination and with a little help of the internet if you want, there are so many different ways to make a weekly spread.
What are those symbols?
You may have noticed in my pictures that before most things I write, I have a little circle, square, or dot written down. This is just another organizational method that you can use/customize if it makes things easier for you. For me, I use a circle to signify a class, a square to signify an event or an appointment, and a dot to signify a task or something I have to do. When the class/event is over and when I’ve completed my tasks, I fill in the shapes and draw an X on the dots. I use these symbols in everything: my future logs, my monthly spreads, and my weekly spreads.
In the past, I've also found it fun to use little doodles as symbols. Bullet journaling is a great way to remember birthdays, so sometimes I like to doodle a little party hat next to a certain day if it's the birthday of someone I know. I'll also draw a little star next to tasks or events that are extremely important to remember, just so it's harder to forget about it.
What supplies do I need?
The more you research bullet journaling, the more you’ll find a lot of expensive dotted notebooks, expensive pens, and all-around expensive stationary. You do not need expensive supplies to bullet journal! All you truly need is a pen or a pencil and any notebook. It can be helpful to have a dotted or a graph notebook, but it’s still 100% possible to bullet journal in a lined notebook (I've done so before). And when it comes to decorating your pages and making everything look pretty, it really depends on what you want. If you have enough time to make things look really nice and/or if it brings you joy, it can be really fun to doodle and add color to your journal. But if you find that adding that type of creativity isn’t a priority for you, then that’s also fine! When I do have time to decorate my pages, I like to collage, draw, and write nice quotes in any blank spaces.
I hope this post was helpful to some of you! Comment below if you like using planners, or if you’ve heard of bullet journaling yourself. Also let me know if you have any questions, or if you’d like to see more posts with bullet journaling tips in the future.
More back to school/organizational blog posts:
My productivity series
Back to School and Bullet Journaling