Like most people, every time I buy a new journal, I feel the promise of what is to come. Unsoiled pages bound perfectly by an unbent spine always excite me when I first open a new journal. There are so many ways I could use this space: to pull abstract ideas from my brain and put them on paper, to draw, to release anger, and to solidify my to-do lists, among others. All these thoughts are good in theory, but after about two weeks of use, I tend to find the journals better suited to my bookshelf than my backpack.
With a new year comes an urge to do better, stay on top of things and not lose motivation as the months pass. After watching a lot of YouTube videos and reading many articles I decided that in 2019 I would give bullet journaling a serious try. In November and December, I played around with the monthly bullet journal to help me stay on top of things and scratched the surface of bullet journaling. Between Pinterest, coworkers and friends, I have heard my fair share of claims that “bullet journaling is easy and extremely helpful”. The reality of bullet journaling, however, is a concept that took me by storm.
In essence, the bullet journal is designed to become whatever you want it to be. You could use it to track your water intake, sleep or period cycles, you could use it to creatively write down your favourite quotes and stories, or you could use it to simply plan out your week.
I started by purchasing a Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Journal, as it was the brand most recommended to me. Based on the aforementioned YouTube videos, I’ve learnt that for me, what would work best is a journal is set up to accommodate a whole year, with each month having a separate spread. And so, I began to start planning my 2019.
For me personally, setting up for the year meant including longer term spreads. I made pages such as “year at a glance”, where I designed the calendar for each month and recorded birthdays or important events that had already been planned, as well as a yearly goal page, a “stuff to check out” page, a travel page, and a monthly polaroid page where I include one polaroid from each particular month. I tried to make this 2019 set up very minimalistic so that it would be easy to follow and keep up with, and so that I wouldn’t look at it as a year-long commitment. If you are looking to try bullet journaling, I highly recommend spending some time on YouTube to find inspiration and help setting up spreads.
The bullet journal for me is a way of being productive as well as creative all in one. I don’t feel pressured to write in it and therefore I find myself more inclined to do so. When it came to preparing monthly spreads, I decided to make goals for things that are important for me to track and be mindful of. I took my time drawing and colouring the first page of the upcoming month and then I chose my trackers of the month. I will consistently track my period, water intake, sleep and moods every month, but sometimes (depending on my actions the previous month) I might add extra trackers such as screen time or exercise. By tracking everyday activities, I am able to view my health in a different light. I can see how one habit may be affecting other habits as well. In addition to trackers, I do weekly spreads within the monthly one in order to view each day of the week and what I need to do when. This is really helpful when it comes to school, as I’ve been discovering, because it allows me to realistically construct a timeline for each project or reading I have due.
While I may have just hopped on the bullet journal train, it has already been very helpful in my day to day life. My trackers remind me to be wary of my bad habits and having my weeks and goals for the year set out in front of me helps me to become motivated in completing these tasks and goals. My bullet journal is not time consuming, it is just another routine task in my day that I am developing into a habit in order to create the best version of myself. At first glance, I was skeptical about the bullet journal, but I am quickly starting to realize that while bullet journals don’t work for everyone, they do work for me and were definitely worth trying out.
Rylie Moscato is a first year English Student and Wellness Columnist for The Athenaeum