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Bullet Journal: Overview

The Bullet Journal system goes hand-in-hand with a lot of readers and writers. Immensely popular, I doubt there's hardly anyone out in the writing world that hasn't heard and seen a lot about bujo. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Bullet Journaling is a system of customizable journaling that allows you to keep it minimal and organized. The method was created by Ryder Carroll, and (boiled down) consists of what he called "rapid journaling" where different symbols stand for different tasks, events, or notes. You can learn more about the method at

I've been Bullet Journaling since 2015 and have adapted the bujo method to fit my needs. It's all about productivity and making it work for you, so many bujo users change up the system to fit their style!

The Bujo official system recommends Leuchtturm journals, but I've found that it doesn't really matter what kind you use as long as it's sturdy enough to last you a whole year! For my own preferences, I've found that I really like the size of the Leuchtturms, but I'm not willing to shell out the cash. My one-time forray into bigger journals and ring-bound journals had me frustrated, so for the last couple of years I've been using MinimalismArt dot grid, A5 size journals that I buy off Amazon! The photo above is one of my favorite weekly spreads in my 2020 MinimalismArt journal. It's hunter green (same color as the ribbon bookmark), has a little pocket in the back, and the pages stay very white and don't bleed through hardly, if ever.

In my bullet journal, I always include the same vital aspects that help me with productivity: monthly spreads and weekly spreads. Outside of trackers, decorative pages, and journaling, these make up the majority of my bujo because they hold me accountable for the work I have to do!

Here are a few examples of my monthly spreads. For my 2020 journal, I've been doing "dutch door" flaps to start off new months, with a the monthly calendar right behind, but I also included some from earlier years to show how I've improved and tried to become more creative with each calendar!

You can see that during school months, when I was still a student, I color-coded my calendars to make it easier to keep track of all my work. Each month, I wrote in every assignment, presentation, and reading that I had to do on the day that it was due, and kept a seperate color for my teaching/work responsibilities. I try to keep the same color coordination through the entire year so that I never mixed up what class it was for and what day it needed to be submitted or completed. My 2019 October and 2020 April calendars are a really good example of how organized I need to be to stay on top of everything!

After creating my monthly calendars, I always include weekly spreads in pairs of two so I can keep track of my time better. Having a two-week spread lets me see, all in one go, when I have time to spare and when I have assignments coming up that have to be prioritized. I create different weekly spreads that matched the month theme or color theme, but try to keep the same general format.

I almost always create boxes for the day, labelled them with the classes or places I have to be that day, and list the assignments/tasks below on the day they were due. Rather than using the black round bullets that the bujo system implements for "tasks," I use boxes and fill them in as I complete them (because I don't like crossing out whole bullets).

Most of my weeklies are the same/similar designs, but over the summers when I don't have as much work to do, I'm able to play and change-up the design each week. The second and third photos in the grid show my weeklies for July 2019. I had a lot of fun experimenting with designs (and killing all my black markers).

In addition to weekly and monthly spreads, I use specific trackers. While I'm not one to have big, comprehensive trackers that comprise multiple things (like water intake, sleep, etc.), I tend to use trackers for my reading, writing, studying, and other miscellaneous activities!

The reading and writing trackers are my main ones. The reading tracker is a large tracker at the beginning of the bujo, since it's something that I use every month. I set it up as a goal, with predefined spaces for me to write in the book title, the author, the date I completed it, and my overall rating 1-5.

My goal for 2020 is to read 68 books, and I'm currently in the middle of my 60th, so I'll definitely surpass that reading goal in the next two months.

In addition to my reading tracker, I keep a little TBR list on the page before that I update periodically. If you scroll on the slideshow above (click the right arrow), it'll show you the list of books that I own but hadn't read at the beginning of 2020. When I read something off my TBR, it gets added to the reading tracker, so I can just flip the page back and forth to see how I've come along with my TBR!

These images are of my other trackers! The top row is my writing tracker. This is relatively new for me in the second-half of 2020. I'm trying to be more mindful about what I spend my time on, so I'm keeping track of and color-coding the amount of time I spend writing, thinking about writing, planning my stories and my blogs, creating materials for my writing (outlines, maps, aesthetics, etc.). I've found that I'm bad about tracking these things because I'm constantly thinking and planning, so it's hard to mark the time I spend jotting notes down in my phone throughout the day. But it is one of my favorite spreads each month.

The second row is my study tracker. I implemented this at the beginning of 2020 when I was studying for my master's comprehensive exam. I needed to really buckle down and be conscious of my study habits, because I had to pass the exam in order to graduate with my MA in Literature and Rhetoric/Composition. The book in the first photo is one of my exam texts.

For this exam, I had a two month period of time to study, so I create a two-page spread, each page representing one month of time. Along the left side I listed all the days of the month and across the top, I listed the hours that I hoped to study (so, 1-5). Each day that I studied, I logged the exact amount of time that I spent reading, taking notes, and brainstorming connections between my exam texts. I found that holding myself accountable on paper really worked as a motivator, because I hated having to leave a day blank or barely filled in.

Between my productivity spreads, I also spend a lot of time adding spreads to the journal that simply represent where my life is now. I include what music I'm listening to, journaling pages detailing my life updates, planning pages (such as for this blog and other projects), collages of images that are important to me, quotes from novels, movies, and music, aesthetic pages that go with the theme of each month, travel trackers (as well as other minor trackers), notes and doodles given to me by others, and pages that remind me what I've enjoyed each month and year.

  1. aesthetic page for July 2020 (space & stars theme)

  2. 2019 round-up detailing my favorite books, bjuo themes, college classes, movies, travels, music, and my biggest struggles and accomplishments of the year.

  3. Plant water tracker for June 2020

  4. My map of Europe that I colored in to track the countries I visited in the summer of 2019.

  5. Machine Gun Kelly spread of my favorite lyrics and quotes from him (from 2017).

  6. Collage of my favorite pictures from the two-year span of my MA degree.

There are so many more pages in my bujo that I just don't have the time/space to share with you all, but I hope I've gotten across how important this little journal is for me. It not only helps me stay organized and keep my productivity on track, but it outlines all the important things of my life. It helps me keep memories fresh and be grateful for all the moments, large and little.


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