You’ve most likely stumbled upon pictures of these on Pinterest — the detailed and colored journals, calendars, and several types of lists. The bullet journal has grown into an overwhelmingly well-known type of creative journaling over the last few years, and it shows! Unlike conventional agendas, diaries, journals, or planners, this bullet journal contains everything you would need — it can be a calendar, a diary, your grocery list, a mood tracker, and so much more. It can be whatever you want it to be.
The concept is easy to grasp — the initial theory is essentially just a daily, weekly, monthly planner. Its purpose is to be simple, quick, and efficient while allowing you to have control of how your layout looks and the pages you want in your diary/planner. Your entries are based on different types of “bullets”, which is where the “bullet journal” gets its name. The “key” of your journal contains different types of “bullets”, which can label and dictate what different things means, such as holidays, birthdays, events, etc. You may also think about incorporating monthly or yearly pages to your calendar, depending on you and your schedule. The most crucial part of a bullet journal is that you build your system of bullets — you can put your to-do list, grocery list, notes about your day, tasks that need to get done, ideas that you think of all on the same page, in any order you want. “Call Carol” can be directly followed by “Dinner with Mom” and it works.
You can decide whatever figures or symbols you want to use — a small box that can be checked to mark a completed task, a dash to mark notes, a light-bulb for ideas, and so on. It might be beneficial, particularly when you’re beginning, to keep a record of all the symbols you are using, so that you aren’t using too many. It can easily become too many. It is also important to keep a list in your journal — some journals can be purchased that have an index at the beginning of them, but in most others, you may have to create your own, by leaving a few pages blank at the beginning. This can help you search for a page and find what you’re looking for later on and be able to add on to it in the future.
Your index can also assist you in keeping track of “groups” which include your daily, weekly, and monthly logs, but can also be other things, such as a list of restaurants to try, a page to plan out your summer bucket list, or your updated grocery list. Groups, or collections, can be whatever you want them to be — all you need is the next blank page in your bullet journal. This is wonderful if you’ve ever been frustrated with an orthodox planner that comes with pre-created pages, and you aren’t able to add the sections or portions you want in your planner, or when there is no room for notes.
One of the greatest things about using a bullet journal is how flexible and easy it is. You might start with a simple system, using only the basic tools, but it’s easy to add more into your journal and incorporate fun things once you get the hang of it. It’s easy to adjust by month and modify how your planner will look. This is probably the type of bullet journaling you are used to seeing — ones with themes for every month, the decorated pages with calligraphy and lots of colors. It may look challenging, especially if you wouldn’t categorize yourself as artistic, but it is not required in order to have a bullet journal. If you find that a basic black and white journal works for you, that’s great! Do you want to add color and life to your pages? That’s great, too! There are a million ways to decorate and enhance your journal to customize it to your preferences.
If you have ever stumbled upon bullet journaling on social media, it may seem overwhelming, but it’s so much fun once you start. But how does this incorporate with mental health, you may ask? Well, I had a bullet journal for a few months, and I loved it so much. The key aspect that makes bullet journaling different from regular planners or calendars is that you can customize it. With that being said, my anxiety decreased when I had more control over how I wanted to plan out my life. I was able to color code days, weeks, months, events, and organize things the way I wanted them. This helped me feel more control, while also incorporating a creative outlet for myself. One page I incorporated was a “mood tracker” in which I colored a little box at the end of the day to determine how my day went. That helped me to get a grasp of how my days were going and what I needed to do to help boost my mood, or what determined my mood that day, and how I could avoid it in the future. This was a great way to incorporate my mental health into my journaling and get a better grasp on my life and planning. I loved bullet journaling. It’s not for everyone, but I highly recommend you try it!
By: Sara Corcoran
Undergraduate Counseling Intern
Olive Branch Counseling Associate, Inc.