How to start a bullet journal

As a student, organisation is the Holy Grail. Keeping on track of appointments, lectures, reminders, and social events is tricky business. Staying organised can also feel like a bit of a slog, especially if you’re not about that calendar life. Bullet journals are a super visual, colourful, pretty way of staying on top of your game, and staying organised. They’re also dead easy to do. Start with a notebook of squared paper, a set of coloured pens, and a head bubbling over with imagination, and get ready to start living your best life.

1. Plan your pages

The idea of a bullet journal is that you fill the pages with visual ways of representation your life. There are some basic foundations that most bullet journalists tend to include in their journals. These may include a year-to-view calendar, ‘habit tracker’, and a future log. The best part of bullet journaling is that it’s all up to you how you chose to design your pages. The idea is that you draw out your own checklists, calendars, and trackers. Therefore, you end up with a super personalised journal that is tailored to your needs.

Start out by having a think about the kind of content you want to include in your journal. What do you need to focus your time and energy on at the mo'? What do you want to achieve from your journal? Which aspects of your life could do with a bit of organisation?

Top tip: A habit tracker is SO useful for uni student. It’s really simple to include. You write a list of good habits you want to keep at. Then draw boxes to represent every day of a month. Mark on in different colours whether you managed to complete your habit each day. At the end of the month you’ll have a beautiful representation of your habits (and you’ll see which ones need a bit more work!).

2. Don’t sweat about neatness

Bullet journals are great for staying organised, but they also should be fun to do. Don’t worry if you mess up a line and everything’s a bit crooked. Don’t sweat it if your writing isn’t uber neat or your boxes have wobbly lines. It’s all part of the fun and it’ll make your journal more unique and personal to you. It also may be tempting to ask an artsy pal to ‘start it off for you’. I would say that although this may mean your journal looks a little prettier, it may make you less motivated to fill it out every day. It’s your journal and there are no set rules of how it should look (that’s kinda the point). Besides, every inky pen blob or coffee cup ring will add to the personalisation.

3. Keep it personal

For me, I like including pages of quotes and pictures to break up the actual bullet content in my journal. If there are quotes or song lyrics that will motivate you or make you feel on top of your game then feel free to add in a page or two to include these. There are no rules. You may want to have a strict colour scheme with certain pens and pencils set aside for bulleting. Or, you may be more like me, and like the way different pens and textures look in your journal.

There also may be certain page ideas that are really specific to you and your goals. When I was writing my dissertation I included a ‘dissertation word count tracker’ page. It was purple and blue and made me super motivated to keep writing in the library. #NailedIt.

4. Use keys to stay on track

The point of keeping a bullet journal is to be organised and see how your life looks represented visually. To make sure you stay on top of the many pages and sections of your journal, include a key at the beginning of your journal. This will help you to monitor where you’re at with different tasks and will also make sure your pages aren’t full with notes and scribbles.

5. Use Insta for inspo

It may not come as a surprise to learn that Instagram is FULL of bullet journals. If you search for #BulletJournal you get 2.2 million hits. It’s huge. This means that there are loads of different bullet journals for you to get some serious inspo from on social media. Content includes video tutorials, calligraphy demos, and product reviews. It’s a goldmine of beautiful, colourful, bullet-related photos and videos.

There are also some great bullet journal accounts run by students of specific degree subjects. Have a mooch around the Instasphere and search for your subject within the bullet journal community. Medical students post intricate pages of rainbow-coloured anatomy diagrams from their journals, psychology students post revision pages, maths students share photos of their equations. It’s all a huge online community and great for getting tips on how to tailor your journal to your needs.

Happy journaling!

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