Bullet Journaling, Personalised Organisation

Article by Rebecca Taylor February 27, 2017

Organisation: the key to most successes. From students preparing for deadlines, to fitting in leisure time around busy schedules there are many ways to make a difference with a touch of planning. With plenty of methods and inspirations out there to fit everyone, the bullet journal system is increasing with popularity.

There’s something nostalgic about working on paper in a digital age. People are so accustomed to telling their lives through a small screen on their phone or laptop, the traditions in sitting down with a pen and notebook can be a welcome reprieve. The backbone of bullet journaling enables this.

© Rebekah Lawrence

© Rebekah Lawrence

© Rebekah Lawrence

It’s a little known system that is increasing with popularity. The simple and clean layout allows users to customise the system to their own needs. For some, it is just about to-do lists but for others it’s a sketchbook and a diary all rolled into one. All it requires is a notebook and a pen.

Bullet journaling was devised by designer Ryder Carroll and uses bullet points to create a system of ‘rapid logging’. Each bullet takes a different form to indicate different kinds of tasks; circles for events, dashes for notes and simple dots for tasks. Moreover, there’s a symbol key that indicated items as being a priority, inspiration, or something to explore later.

The journal makes use of several ‘logs’ such as an index, a year log, a monthly log and a daily log. The index section allows easy reference to past entries, and the other logs help users to plan and keep track of important dates. Each person’s journal is different and unique and that’s the beauty of the bullet journal; it is tailored to an individual’s needs. Beyond these features there are plenty of other tips and tricks which can be found on the official website.

Below are thoughts from three students at Bath Spa University who use the bullet journal system and express how much it can be beneficial to organise, prepare and be easily adapted to suit your own needs.

Hannah, second year


Why did you start bullet journaling?

For me personally, I struggle a lot with time management and keeping myself motivated. I started using the bullet journal system and I found myself being a lot more productive.

What does your journal look like?

I don’t do mine in the typical way as described above – after following the method rigorously, I found it didn’t work for me. That’s okay. I took to Pinterest, Tumblr and YouTube to see how other people were using theirs.

The future log is a great place to jot down the deadlines I have coming up so I keep on top of my work. I opted to take my monthly and daily logs in a different direction as the list approach was hard to read and left me confused. Instead, I filled my page with a monthly calendar and a box dedicated to each day of the week; there I can write down tasks I need to complete for that day. I have boxes to track how many times I go to the gym, whether I get up at a reasonable time and if I drink enough water in a day. As well as having a page dedicated to my goals for the year, each weekly page has a box to log down the things I want to achieve for the week to keep my productivity as high as it can be.

What would you say to others wanting to try it out?

My advice for bullet journaling is just to try it out and see what works for you and what doesn’t. I find myself changing the way I use bullet journaling all the time – some weeks it works, some weeks I find it an unnecessary chore, keep it changing and I keep going.

Becky, Third Year2

Tell us about your journal

If you’re not used to using a diary daily, it can take a while to get into it but it becomes habit, especially when you see the effect it has.

My bullet journal is simple. Coloured pens is about as creative as it gets. Mostly I use it as a to-do list, but more than this I can plan my goals for the year, each month and each week. I find that this gives me something to work towards even if I don’t have any deadlines. It also helps me to break down bigger goals into smaller, more manageable goals that will eventually lead to me achieving what I want. The monthly tracker allows me to note down whether I wake up at a decent time in the morning, if I’ve read the book I wanted to and even if I’ve been using the journal!

Alice, first year


What makes bullet journalling so popular?

Like many others, I’ve tailored my bullet journal to suit my life. I try to keep track of my habits, my water intake, and how I spend my time. I like to make my pages look pretty and fresh. Like Hannah, I take inspiration from other people’s journals online and come up with a new layout for each double-page spread.

I’ve found it’s beneficial to keep notes for all my creative projects in one place – the bullet journal is an ideal space for this. I know that there are apps for all the things I use my journal for, but there’s something special about having it all in one place. I can then personalise it with post-its, stickers, fancy handwriting and colouring pencils. Some might see the time I spend making it look pretty as time wasting, but for me it’s a chance to de-stress while doing something to keep me organised and productive.

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