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I designed the cover of my journal to encourage myself to “go on” when times get tough, but I admit that some people have read this as “goon.” Chandler Lasch | Col­legian

College stu­dents are busy people.

We have a lot of homework, extracur­ric­ulars, and fun events to remember. In the past, I’ve played around with a series of tech­niques using planners and spread­sheets to try to stay orga­nized, but the system I like best is bullet jour­naling.

Bullet jour­naling isn’t really jour­naling in the tra­di­tional sense, although it could be. (It could really be a lot of things.) I use mine mainly as a planner, but it has mul­tiple uses.

As bulletjournal.com says, “The Bullet Journal is a cus­tomizable and for­giving orga­ni­zation system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above.”

All you really need to get started is a journal or notebook, preferably with graph paper, and a writing utensil. The journal I use is a for­matted like a graph, but the lines aren’t all con­nected. You’ll see what I mean. I also use pens that (mostly) don’t bleed through the pages and occa­sionally colored pencils when I want a solid block of color.

The easiest way to explain the process is to show you some pages from my own journal, starting with this “Fall 2017” page. Here, I’ve laid out my classes and other important times that I want to remember, such as office hours, next to a cal­endar that I drew of my typical week.

Chandler Lasch | Col­legian

As you can see, I like my pages to have dif­ferent colors and accents, but some people prefer a more minimal style. I’m not great at keeping my schedule in my head, so I like being able to tell at a glance when I’m free and when I have plans.

I use an “important assign­ments” page to keep track of the major dates I need to know for my classes.

Chandler Lasch | Col­legian

Here, I record events like tests and paper due dates. I ref­erence this page each week to see if there’s any­thing here that I should be thinking about, and I often pull it out in class when some­thing new comes up.

This is an example of a monthly spread. I use this pri­marily to plan ahead by writing down events I want to remember when I create weekly spreads or by tracking things for the next month in my future log. I also have a list on the opposite page where I fill in more infor­mation, such as loca­tions and times.

Chandler Lasch | Col­legian

Speaking of weekly spreads, this is the first week that I did. Weekly spreads are my focus when it comes to bullet jour­naling. On these pages, I write in classes and other events I want to remember in addition to tasks I want to com­plete for the day. I also leave space for tasks I want to finish at some point in the week, such as doing my laundry; tasks for the fol­lowing week; and homework assign­ments. And because I like to doodle, I filled in some blank space with a col­orful flower.

Chandler Lasch | Col­legian

I haven’t been super con­sistent with my mode of checking off tasks. Usually, I fill in the bubbles of tasks I have com­pleted and cross off those that have been moved or can­celed. Some bullet jour­nalers rec­ommend cre­ating a key at the beginning of the journal so you can use the same marks to indicate whether a task is started, com­pleted, post­poned, or whatever else you may want to note.

Here is my spread for this week.

Chandler Lasch | Col­legian

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve moved away from the box format that I had before. That said, my spreads are never iden­tical, so I may end up going back to it. I didn’t like having my scheduled events mixed in with my to-do list, so I started sep­a­rating those (for the most part- some­times things come up later that have to I add in) from my tasks. Also, I realized I was giving myself more space than nec­essary, so I shortened up each day’s spot. I’ll fill some of the white space with doodles over the week as inspi­ration strikes.

The extra space allowed me to start a habit tracker with my weekly spreads. The idea of a habit tracker was what first attracted me to bullet jour­naling. I’m very list-ori­ented and there are some things that I will forget to do (like flossing) unless I have a checklist reminding me to do them. I ini­tially had my habit tracker on the opposite page of my monthly spread, but I almost never looked at it. Now, I’ve moved it onto the pages I refer to all throughout the day with the hope that I will start con­sis­tently imple­menting these habits. Even though I haven’t written this down, I have an idea of which of these things I want to do every day (like flossing) and which I want to do several days a week (like practice playing guitar). I’m opti­mistic that the thrill of filling in those little boxes will provide suf­fi­cient moti­vation.

These are the pages I use most fre­quently, but I also have pages for tracking:

  • Finances
  • Books I want to read
  • Prayer requests
  • Col­legian assign­ments
  • Notes from my fra­ternity meetings

I have a page ded­i­cated to fun lists, such as my favorite songs and places I want to visit. This gives me a chance to practice new doodles and fonts, and years from now, I can look back, see what places I’ve checked off the list, and either crit­icize or admire my former taste in music.

Other lists and pages that I may try someday- and that you could try- include:

  • Favorite quotes
  • Dream journal
  • Sleep log
  • Grade tracker
  • Birthdays/Anniversaries
  • Wishlist
  • Grat­itude log
  • Meal planner

I get most of my ideas from social media net­works such as Pin­terest, tumblr, and Instagram, which are filled with even more inspi­ration for beau­tiful formats, page ideas, and systems for to-do lists that are a lot more com­pli­cated than mine.

You don’t have to be artistic to try bullet jour­naling, and while my pages are fre­quently somewhat girly, this isn’t just a fem­inine thing. It can be as simple or complex as you like. If you’re as moti­vated by lists as I am and like the idea of cus­tomizing your own planner, this may be the orga­ni­zation tech­nique for you.