5 Years With the Bullet Journal: From College to the Workplace
As an account coordinator, the most important part of my job is organization. Using a bullet journal and the “bullet journal method” helped me through college and turned me into the organization superstar I am today. I’d like to use this blog post to share why I think it is so useful and how my use of it has changed over time.
My bullet journals date back to 2017, and I keep my collection of 4 journals on a shelf in my apartment, available for me to read whenever I want. I don’t remember why I started, but I know I was drawn to the beautiful spreads on Pinterest and the promise of a perfectly organized life. I also love sketching and doodling, so I knew I could pull off some cool designs.
The Bullet Journal Method was created by Ryder Carroll and is a “Mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system.” It has completely evolved since then, branching out into a variety of methods/aesthetics. Definitely give Carroll’s book The Bullet Journal Method a read. It’s an interesting book about organization and project management that goes beyond just explaining his method (and believe it or not, this non-fiction productivity book made me cry??).
It’s fun to look back on where I was and what I was doing this time a few years ago - Let’s look at July: I have a record of my 2017 and 2018 summer internships, my 2019 summer studying abroad in Madrid, and my 2020 painting adventures/job hunting. While plain-old-journaling is great (and I do that too), I find that I get caught up in writing about my ~feelings~, or I’ll just focus on one part of my day. I’ve discovered that I get a lot of value from reflecting on my daily tasks and projects at different times in the past, and that’s why I think bullet journaling is so great!
Confession: I don’t actually use a bullet journal/the exact method for my job. This is because the quantity of mini-tasks I usually do in a day is much greater than the 4-6 tasks I usually have in a bullet journal. (In my four months at Texas Creative I’ve filled two notebooks to the brim!) While I don’t use the same method for personal organization, many aspects have rubbed off on my workflow.
One of the first things you’ll be introduced to with the bullet journal method is the practice of using a list of symbols used to communicate a characteristic about a task (the “key”). In my work notebook, I utilize boxes for all my to-dos, and I often use the arrow symbol to migrate tasks to the next day.
The DIY Factor
I’m currently using a sketchbook as my notebook and I am loving it! I enjoy drawing the lines for my organizational layout each day, and I find that this ownership over my workspace helps me focus. I have one very long task list (again, very different from my 4-6 tasks in my bullet journal), a column for my hours, and on the backside, I have my notes.
In Progress - Complete
I use a highlighter to indicate which tasks are in progress, and when they're done I go over them with a dark marker. In the traditional system, many will indicate “in progress” with a half-filled box. Adding in color is useful for me and is a great reminder of what’s actually on my plate.
At the beginning of every week, I lay out a weekly view before my daily pages. This helps me visualize what I can expect to see this week, and delegate tasks more effectively.
Using this framework has really shown me the importance of using small visual cues and going a little bit out of your way to create an organizational system that works for you. If you’re interested in getting started, I’ll leave you with a list of the supplies I use in my own bullet journal.
My Favorite Tools for Bullet Journaling Are:
- Crayola Supertips or any fun marker
- Washi tape for easy decorating
- Dotted notebooks help to draw clean lines without a ruler
- Youtube videos - there are plenty of “Plan With Me” videos like this one to get you started!
As someone with both an analytical and creative mind, bullet journaling has been a perfect way for me to structure my planning. When I don’t use my bullet journal/my work method, I feel less grounded and a bit more spacey. While digital planning has helped me out a lot, and I definitely cross-reference everything with Google Calendar, there’s just something special and concrete about using paper and a pen. How about you, are you more of a digital planner, a paper planner, or somewhere in between?