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Bullet Journaling for Beginners

For those interested in calligraphy, journaling, doodling, or drawing in general, “bullet journaling” may be of interest. This Pinterest trend is perfect for people who have a million to-do lists, enjoy goal-setting, or want to become more organized. The term “bullet journal” paints a picture of bulleted pointed lists, but it is so much more than that.

At its most basic level, a bullet journal is a method of notetaking and journaling that uses bullets. However, the uses of a bullet journal have expanded greatly and the only limit is one’s imagination. It can be a to-do list, diary, or planner that incorporates calligraphy and drawing.

Each bullet journal can be broken down into a few parts. It opens with a table of contents. This is where page numbers and corresponding content can be written down and updated as you expand your creativity. The second main structure of the journal is a yearly calendar, monthly calendar, and weekly spread.

The yearly calendar is created at the beginning of the journal as a reference for important dates throughout the year. There is a monthly calendar, which can be designed as each month approaches. Each consists of important dates, like birthdays or holidays, which can be highlighted or jotted down. Following these are weekly spreads, where each day has space for to-do lists or notes.

While creating a bullet journal may seem more tedious than simply buying a planner, it allows for more creativity. Each title can be written in modern calligraphy or fun bubble letters.  Individual pages can be designed with doodles and quotes to provide a sense of uniqueness. Each page's color and design change with momentary inspiration, leading to a journal that is unique and beautifully composed.

In addition to acting as a calendar and planner, a bullet journal can include mood and habit trackers, exercise or dietary goals, or even just pages filled with doodles and inspiring quotes. How you choose to design and use your bullet journal is entirely up to you.

This habit requires a few important materials. First and foremost is a journal, one not too large (so that it is easy to carry around) and one not too small (so that there is enough room to write and doodle). Any journal will do, but the best kind for bullet journaling is a grid dot journal because it is very flexible for different layouts and designs, but still provides enough structure to help with spacing and lines. Sometimes, grid dot journals even come with a blank index in the front, so keep an eye out for those when shopping around.

As for what drawing utensils to use, anything goes, but beware of pens or markers that bleed through pages. Colorful brush pens and fine pens are always a good choice. Popular brands in the bullet journaling community include Tombow Brush Pens and Pigma Micron pens. Page Flutter has a list of writing utensils that work perfectly for bullet journaling, which helps find the right pen for the right price.

The benefits of bullet journaling are far-reaching in everyday life. Students in college have hectic schedules that include balancing volunteering, work, and classes on top of other extracurriculars. It can be difficult to find time to get to the Plex or schedule some relaxation and reflection time. A bullet journal can help make any student’s schedule more manageable and is a perfect for keeping track of habits or goals, whether those be getting a full eight hours of sleep or choosing a salad at lunch. Becoming more organized and managing a busy schedule through journaling can decrease stress and can improve overall health. Just remember, bullet journaling is meant to be a fun way to destress, so the amount of time and effort put into the journal is entirely optional (and yes, mistakes in pen will happen, but it’s best to just roll with it).

The best way to start bullet journaling? Google some inspiration, buy a journal, grab some pens and dive right in.