The Art of the Bullet Journal

By Kishan Panesar

I’ve always been someone that craves structure and order, so even after elementary school when agendas were no longer mandatory, I insisted on keeping one. It kept me organised and, being a forgetful person, it was helpful to have somewhere to write down everything so it was out of my brain and I didn’t have to worry. Then I came across the concept of bullet journaling. What is a bullet journal? It’s a system of organization: an agenda, to do list, planner, and calendar all wrapped up into one convenient book. I know it sounds overwhelming, but the underlying concept is simple. It keeps everything in one place. 

I started bullet journaling the summer that I started at Concordia. I started simple; I wanted a place where I could write 3 good things about my day and keep track of it. I also wanted to track my mood so that, even on the bad days, I had to write down 3 things every day, whether it was that I got a good mark on a test, hung out with friends, or just as simple as “I got out of bed this morning.” Every day. Three good things. You’ll be pleased to know that even though it is difficult, I’ve kept up with this practice. I love looking back at the previous years and reading what made me happy this time last year. It’s a great way to end the day.

Scrolling through Pinterest one day, I learned about habit trackers. The name is quite self-explanatory; habit trackers keep track of your habits. I thought this was a great way to reinforce any new goals that I wanted to set and keep, so I added that to my journal. 

The journal I used was a simple lined book. I made the trackers using some pens and markers, and I allotted spaces for 3 good things every day. I kept up this habit until I finished the book, which is when I decided I was going all in with bullet journaling. 

I had a book with grid paper inside sitting around at home, so I decided to use that. I took to Pinterest again and started looking up bullet journals, trying to get some idea of what to do. That was overwhelming. The amount of fancy spreads there are on Pinterest is impressive, but to a beginner, it was completely daunting. I googled how to start a bullet journal and found much better results. They all had similar messages:

  • It doesn’t have to be perfect
  • All you need are a pen and a book
  • It’s your organization system, so tailor it to your needs

So I set to work. I ended up with a notebook that I was semi-proud of. It contained a calendar, habit trackers, mood tracker, gratitude log, and weekly/daily logs. It was very similar to the way goal-setting agendas were laid out, but it had a few things that were especially for me. I started using it all the time, and let me just say that I love that notebook. 

The biggest downfall to bullet journaling that I find is it takes time, at least if you want to make it a bit fancier. I use mine as an outlet for drawing as well. I also found that sometimes it can be hard to keep up with certain logs or trackers. If something didn’t work for me though, I just phased it out for the next month and kept going on. 

A few tips for if you decide to start keeping a bullet journal:

  • Start small, and don’t start on Pinterest
  • Google what a bullet journal is, or read Ryder Carroll’s book The Bullet Journal Method for a better understanding
  • Make a list of the different spreads you want before you start
  • Start in pencil if you want to make it look fancy
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. At the end of the day, it’s keeping you organized.

So there you have it. Bullet journaling is a wonderful thing, but it is definitely not for everyone. Sometimes all you can do is appreciate from afar. Or, stick with a regular agenda and tailor it to your needs. Stay organized!

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