Bullet Journaling 101


Annika Northey

A travel collage from Northey’s bullet journal.

By Annika Northey, Reporter

My objective is not to convince or persuade, I am not trying to convert people to bullet journaling though I suppose if I write this properly I might provoke creative inspiration of some form or another. 

Bullet journaling, by definition, is a method of personal organization for scheduling, reminders, to-do lists, brainstorming and other organizational tasks, however; I’m going to have to disagree; bullet journaling can be whatever you want it to be, whatever you need it to be. 

My journal is full of daily checklists for school as well as my personal life. Journal entries and drawings are scattered throughout. I have a color coded mood tracker where I am able to record my mood at the end of each day. At the end of each year I have a spreadsheet showing my mood over the course of 12 months.

The misconceptions about journaling, such as how much time it takes and the effort that it requires, are ever present, and it’s important to address the concerns of so many people who assume that they are unfit for the hobby. Journaling is meant to be calming and therapeutic, not time consuming and precise. 

Shahd Nimir, a junior at Lane, said that the checklists she includes in his journal give her a sense of accomplishment., 

“I think that a lot of people think that [journaling is] stressful because you have to take certain time out of your day to actually sit down and work on it, but I feel like in the long run it has more benefits because you are more organized and more likely to get stuff done, or at least that’s how it is for me,” Nimir said. 

The beauty of a checklist is something not regarded enough. It may seem unnecessary to write down what you need to do, but many people don’t realize how stress relieving it can be to organize these thoughts.  The simplicity of a to-do list compared to the productivity that can be generated makes it a bit of a no-brainer. 

Essentially, bullet journaling comes in when you want this productivity to look aesthetic. Whether that comes from an artistic standpoint or simply wanting the journal to be appealing, the creative part of bullet journaling broadens the hobby to a larger pool of people. Pinterest is a great platform for creative inspiration to kick-start your bullet journaling.

Scrapbooking for the travelers. Sketching for the artists. Planners for the organized or unorganized. Schedules for the busybodies. Writing for the ones who want to remember or cope or process. 

The best part of all is that nobody has to see it. My journal is not going to be a public art installation at the local museum. With that in mind, intimidation or fear of embarrassment is irrational. 

Art is not a strong suit of mine but that does not stop me from sketching or painting or drawing when I have the desire to do so. Do some pages in my journal look like the work of a kindergartener? Yes. Do I care? No. 

You improve as you go, and there is no judgment. It’s a secret place that nobody has to know about, where you write and draw and illustrate anything you want. In many ways bullet journaling can be considered independent therapy.

“[Bullet journaling] has been therapy to me in a way,” Madisyn Burke, a senior at Lane, said. “Writing about positive experiences, rather than negative all the time, and then being able to share that with people, that’s kind of helped me appreciate life more.”

Recognizing that a journal doesn’t have to be a collection of adverse events is critical to accepting the benefits that may materialize. Noting fulfilling moments, days, people, creates a log of growth and a new way of registering the good in life. 

A journal can even be useful just for the purpose of recalling the wild tales of high school. There’s a certain excitement that comes with thinking that I’ll have these memories written down so that I can read through them when they’re forgotten. I like that I have a chance to process experiences in the moment and then look back on them and still gain more insight on my maturity. 

If there has ever been a part of you that has told you to buy a journal and start bullet journaling, do it. There are no risks or downsides, only advantages.