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Do bullet journals really work?

By May Domingo, October 16 2020—

With the re-emerging popularity of the studyblr community, bullet journals have also become the forerunner for aesthetically-pleasing planners.

The concept was created by a New-York based designer named Ryder Carroll. In an interview with Evernote, he explained that bullet journalling is a system that allows the user to capture ideas as well as log current and future plans. 

All anyone needs to start is a notebook and a writing utensil. I have been using the Leuchtturm1917 dotted notebooks for over three years. The dotted pages allow for great guidance of layout without being too distracting, in comparison to lined pages.

Students at the University of Calgary choose not to use bullet journals for a variety of reasons. I asked a few of them and got some random responses:

“I’ve tried, and failed, because I like to plan ahead,” said one student.”I couldn’t keep up with creating monthly layouts in advance and I’m not creative enough. I would, maybe, try again if I was gonna use it to organize life stuff and not school stuff.”

“I have used a bullet journal,” said another. “You know, it’s nice to plan and decorate but usually when I get super busy, I don’t even bother decorating because it becomes a waste of time. Even though decorating is relaxing for me, I only get to properly manage it if I have time. I still use it to write due dates and to-do lists, just without any type of formatting though.”

“I’m too much of a perfectionist,” said the third. “Like, I couldn’t handle my handwriting not looking a certain way.”

From my experience, it takes a lot of getting used to and limited artistic skill, believe it or not. Remember, bullet journals are meant to help you keep track of things. It is not a design competition — that is just an added bonus.

Planning something, in general, can get overwhelming if you do not have a simple system to follow. When starting out for the first time, there is no need for fancy decorations or materials. Minimalist designs are currently the trend anyways. 

Get down a list of the things that need to be done and you are already on your way to journalling.

Bullet journals are not only for organizational purposes. They are also used for artistic expression. Many use bullet journals to write their poetry, draw doodles and sketch on the go.

The question of whether bullet journals work or not depends on where you want to take your journalling journey.

Writing down things is scientifically studied to work better than typing. It results in finer memory retainment and helps you process the information better. So, marking down your to-do on a notebook is more beneficial than putting it down in your phone. Besides, does anyone ever actually look back at their Notes app?

Journalling is, as has been said above, relaxing. Taking some time to sit down and draw out a page helps to ease the mind off of stressful days. Starting this hobby is a creative outlet that keeps your hands off your phone. Each blank page is like a new start to your organization system because it is easily customizable. There is no restriction such as in a ready-made monthly planner. You can have a monthly layout in one page then a daily page in the next one without having to worry about “ruining” the entire notebook.

Keeping track of what has been done, and what needs to be done, on paper also allows more mind space for important things, such as what is going to be on the next test. Bullet journalling is a great way of staying organized. It is a wonderful method for keeping things in one place. Appointments, ideas, personal goals, to-do lists and more can be accessed with the flip of a page.

Inspiration can be picked up from all over the internet. I recommend searching “bullet journal layout” on Pinterest and you are bound to be greeted by beautiful pages designed by many. If you are not artistically-inclined, you can take inspiration from those pages. Practicing and working out what layout best suits you is a part of the journey.

YouTube creators have inspired a community of millions to start using bullet journals. One such creator is a fellow Canadian, Amanda Rachel Lee. She only started bullet journalling in 2017 after watching a video.

From monthly layouts to budget planning, she has done many videos to guide first-time users and long-time planners.

There are many uses to a bullet journal. It is compact and easy to carry, hence it can be seen in use by many people in cafes, trains and in class. The only trick is to actually use it.

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