Why You Need a Bullet Journal (and How To Use One)

Bullet journals have been the latest Instagrammable organization phenomenon. They are pretty, practical and cater to the type As like no other agenda and journal can, but they can also seem much more complicated than they really are. 

In its widest capacity, a bullet journal combines an agenda, a diary and a to-do list all crammed into one. You use it to keep track of your future events and appointments but you can also use it to keep track of your past actions, thoughts and feelings. The part that often confuses people is the symbols on marking what’s done, what’s in progress and what you need to put on the back-burner, but that brings us to the best part: It’s entirely customizable to your tastes and needs. 

For example, my bullet journal (or bujo, as you’ll hear die-hards call them) has an overview of the next eight months over a two-page spread. Here I can see major events that are coming up like birthdays, weddings, holidays and deadlines (like this article, for instance). I can see everything that is happening well in advance and all in one place. After my at-a-glance, I have a monthly tracker where I can keep track of a variety of things I might do in a day, whether they’re habits that I want to curb (sugar intake, time spent watching Netflix) or some are things I need to spend more time on (writing, homework).

It also includes endless to-do lists, random thoughts and drawings, plus a weekly agenda that I draw in as I need it.

Some pro tips to get you started:

  • Get the dotted Moleskine or other brand’s equivalent rather than blank, lined or graphed squares. The dots make it super easy to draw in any kind of chart or agenda format you might need.
  • Coloured pens are key. Personally, I am much more likely to stick with something if it is pretty and covered in bright colours.
  • Get a tiny ruler you can keep with your journal. Most Moleskines come with a little pocket in the back.

If you still aren’t sure if you want to try it out, a bullet journal is right for you if:

You don’t like restrictions, man.

Does a conventional agenda feel like a prison? Are you feeling limited by your google calendar? The key to the bullet journal is that you can build it to suit your own needs. And if what you built isn’t meeting your needs, you can adjust the set up to whatever will work better. I have been sticking with a weekly format over two pages of my journal. But maybe you need a whole page for a day. Maybe you need to see a month at a time. Maybe you need all of the above! Your notebook is your oyster and with so many bullet journalers out there instagramming and pinteresting their work, it is easy to find inspiration and create something that will work for you .

You need to physically write things down.

I was always that guy in the lecture hall who had a notebook and pen, furiously taking notes as the professor was speaking. I didn’t bring my laptop to class ever. One: because I was lazy and that bitch was heavy. Two: I learn and remember things so much better when I write them down rather than type them.

You need a little help with tracking and achieving your goals.

With a bullet journal you can examine your habits as closely as you need to. I wanted to take a closer look at my spending habits so I added a section that tracked how much money I spent in a day. This was both useful and terrifying. I knew in theory that those cold brew coffees were adding up, but it didn’t really hit me until I saw them physically added up.

Other things you might want to track: eating, exercise and alcohol consumption (I have learned that I have a drink more days than I don’t). I also track the days I do homework, the days I do art for fun and the days I watch less than an hour of Netflix. This tracking has made me realize that I spend very little of my time on the things that I am passionate about. The next step is for me to make them a priority (likely by scheduling time for them in my bullet journal).

You have a creative streak.

Or you just like brightly coloured pens and quiet time.

Creating the pages in my bullet journal is incredibly meditative. It is what I imagine grownups get out of their grownup colouring books. You can focus on this very simple task while physically creating something. It can be as beautiful or as utilitarian as you like. A bullet journal can simply give you peace of mind when you are stressed or feeling overwhelmed. It can be a tool for achieving your goals or keeping track of your habits. It can be a scrapbook where you keep your memories. Or it can be all of the above. The best part is that it can be whatever you need it to be.

Image via @craftyenginerd

Tags: agendas, bujo, bullet journal

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