I’ve been in graduate school for almost four years and I’ve struggled with organization this entire time. As an undergrad, I was super into my manual planners. I would write out everything that had to complete on any given day. I would break my reading assignments into smaller chunks and disperse them throughout the week as to not have to read too much of any one particular thing in one day. This system was super effective and got me through four rigorous years of classes and senior thesis.
Fast forward to graduate school when I realize that my old methods for organizing my brain and my life are no longer effective. Each year, I spend time and money selecting the perfect planner only for it to end up collecting dust a month into the semester. I break my reading into manageable chunks, only to never keep up with them.
While my old strategies for productivity were ineffective, I still managed to get work done by simply making lists. On any given day, I would have a number of post-its and scrap pieces of paper floating around with the day’s activities listed out. While these lists lacked the polish of a fancy planner, they got the job done.
Given my love for listing-making, I was so pleased to stumble across bullet-journaling on the interwebs. Unlike other trendy planner brands, bullet journal is more of a system. It provides a structure for list-making that helps improve organization and improve productivity. With bullet journaling, you use different symbols to mark tasks that you’ve completed, postponed, or removed all together.
The best thing about bullet-journaling is the flexibility of design. With pre-printed planners, you can only work within the layout that has been laid out for you. Though there may be a small open-ended section on the weekly layout page or a few blank pages in the back, there isn’t much opportunity for you to make it your own. Bullet journaling is all about making it fit your life.
If you scroll thought the #bulletjournal on Instagram, you will come across countless creative iterations of bullet journals. It’s amazing to see what people come up with but it can also be a little intimidating for the creatively-challenged, like myself. While it’s wonderful to see the possibilities of bullet journaling, the beauty of it is that you can do whatever works for you. So if keeping it simple works better for you than taking an hour out of your week to design an intricate layout for your “Yoga Tracker” page – don’t do it. Simply list the days of the month on a blank page and mark each day that you do yoga with a little X.
You can also buy whatever notebook best fits your needs. I bought this one, which I really love.
It’s super clean, simple, and great quality. I slapped some stickers on the front (courtesy of my last order from Glossier) to add little razzle dazzle.
I haven’t had a ton of time to spend setting up my journal so this first month has been super simple. I have a page to track my spending, a page to highlight important events/happening and then my simple daily lists. I use little symbols next to the date to track my meditation and home asana practice. And that’s it! Nice and easy.
Buy a notebook. Grab some stickers and some colored ballpoints and get a move on.
Are you a bullet journaler? What are some of your favorite things about it?