In middle school I struggled with keeping track of all the deadlines for my eight classes, so I’d often resort to just asking friends in those subjects to help out. It turned out, though, that my peers felt the same, since they would ask me about those same due dates in return. I didn’t do anything about the issue until my sophomore year, when I suddenly found myself swamped in essays, My Math Labs and various other bits of work on my To-Do list. So, I started writing down a list to keep clarify my schedule; however, I did wrote that list in random places. From time to time, I still find ripped pieces of paper and sticky notes with my sloppy handwriting detailing all the dates for when homework was due.
Somehow I never compiled all of my deadlines into one journal or calendar, possibly because the school calendars were always too dull looking or didn’t have the right layout to fit my purposes of tidying up my schedule. In 10th grade I finally stumbled upon bullet journals on Instagram, as someone had drawn an adorable layout that was connected to hashtags for the journaling community. As a flexible system that keeps track of anything and everything, as long as someone writes in it, this planner is a space where assignments and due dates can be sorted into personalized categories. There are different kinds of journals one can use, but I prefer dotted line journals the most. The options to make whatever pattern or setup I require are endless — sometimes I tape sketches in, use stickers for decoration or just draw all the designs myself. My planning experience turned dull dates into a neat place to keep aesthetics of my own.
While I used my journal to keep all of my dates and deadlines in place, Ryder Carroll, creator of the bullet journal (also known as BuJo), invented this method of organization to help him with his Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), a condition where a person has increased hyperactivity and lowered ability to focus on one task at once.
When he discovered that his friends who did not have ADD found this kind of planning helpful, as well, Carroll started a YouTube channel to advocate online for the usage of BuJos. His main purpose, as mentioned in his TED Talk, was to declutter his mind, allowing him to plan out events or jot down all of the thoughts zooming around in his brain, since grasping onto a single detail seemed impossible. As he said in a video on how to create a bullet journal, Carroll’s demonstration was just a basic idea of how to make a bullet journal.
As a student who sees too many big blocks of texts and numbers in class, my BuJo contains places where I can doodle, put my thoughts down on paper and add designs I find beautiful. It’s a reminder that my world is not just grades and deadlines printed in boring black and white.
Additionally, I use my bullet journal as a place to store my overall growth, from teen to adult. Whenever a new month arrives, I create a cute “spread” (several pages designed with some kind of theme) and plan out my deadlines for the month. In-between each month are essentially my diary entries. I tend to hide my emotions at school out of fear of peer judgement, as well as a way to disallow distractions from my studies. This private paper, however, is a blank space for me to pour out my range of detached sentiments. Sometimes, when I look back on past pages, I’ll find wrinkled dots of bleeding ink on a certain entry and realize how much I’ve grown; the events some month or year ago that hurt the most don’t really affect me anymore.
These entries are a reminder that I have flourished more and more, day by day, even if I don’t appear outwardly changed.
Although creating diary entries are great to look back on in the future, this kind of planning can be helpful in other personal ways in the present as well, such as in aiding mental or physical health. BuJos are helpful in lowering anxiety, as Dr. Joshua Klapow, a clinical psychologist, said in a 2018 interview with Bustle. “[Writing results in a] reduction in anxiety, which frees up space in our brains,” Dr. Klapow said, mostly because people let go of the fear of forgetting information, thus reducing their anxiousness. Klapow explains those who actually find increased concerns behind making (or not making) a bullet journal may have a more severe anxiety disorder at play and recommends they see a mental health professional.
As for physical health, people can set up their planning notebook to include an exercise log, or a record to keep track of chores or other tasks such as taking medications. Logging exercise is beneficial because it helps one get inspired, according to an article by Lifehack. The notebook becomes a place for future goals or just somewhere to vent. By recording their activities, people can focus on their tasks and organize ways of keeping themselves healthy.
No matter what setup or purpose people have for their journal, the BuJo is a useful tool in keeping life visually tidy. Although it may not work for everyone, I like to write in my notebook to keep all of my homework in one place so I can visualize my plan of action for weeks at a time. Furthermore, I can use this type of planner to let my feelings out once in a while as a way to vent. I can even read my growth over the years, as long as I continue to chronicle my experiences into diary entries. My BuJo is an excellent organizational strategy that invokes creativity in one of the neatest ways possible.
Do you bullet journal? Let us know in the comments below.