A beginner’s guide to the bullet journal: Tips for college students to get started

Many college students keep bullet journals to track their moods and habits. Bullet journaling is a great way to stay organized and to relieve stress by doodling and expressing creativity. (Mary Kate Zach | Collegian Media Group)

Odds are, you’ve heard of the bullet journal productivity craze or seen pictures of it while scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram. But what exactly is bullet journaling?

A bullet journal is a notebook that functions as an all-in-one tool for your various organizational and creative needs. Think of it as having your planner, journal and to-do lists all in the same place. Bullet journaling is a minimalist’s dream, and the layout, design and creativity level is customizable according to your specific needs.

If you’re curious about bullet journaling or haven’t gotten around to trying it out just yet, the following might convince you to get started.

Bullet journals are completely customizable and accessible

College students know the struggle of picking out a planner for each new school year. There’s an overwhelming amount of options when it comes to design and layout.

Finding the perfect planner can be stressful and time consuming, not to mention pretty expensive if you’re buying a new one every school year. Taking up the bullet journal method can save you the trouble (and some money).

All you need is a notebook and a writing utensil of your choosing and you’re good to go. You can design your monthly or weekly spreads however you’d like without restrictions. If you get bored of the same old layout of store-bought planners, bullet journaling gives you the creative control to spice things up a bit.

If creativity isn’t your thing and your artistic abilities aren’t up to par with “Insta-worthy” bullet journal designs, don’t fret, because…

You don’t have to be creative to bullet journal

Bullet journaling is often seen as time consuming and something that requires high levels of artistic ability, but you actually don’t need a lick of creativity to get started.

If you want to get into bullet journaling but don’t consider yourself creative, there are tutorials on YouTube or templates on Pinterest for even the most basic of designs. While bullet journaling is a sort of innovative and artistic outlet for many, there’s no limitations for what you can use it for. It’s really all up to you.

What goes in a bullet journal?

As mentioned earlier, a bullet journal functions as an all-in-one tool for your organizational and creative needs, whether that be as an agenda to organize all the assignments, meetings and project deadlines that come with college life or an actual journal to jot down thoughts, feelings and personal goals.

There are plenty of other things that a bullet journal can be used for, too, including…

Fitness and meal trackers

Instead of using an app on your phone to track personal health and fitness progress, make a spread in your bullet journal specific to exercise and eating right. It’s super cool to see a book fill up with your progress (and it limits your screen time if you’re not using an app).

Budget tracker

Let’s face it — saving money is hard in college. There’s always some kind of academic-related expense, the constant urge to go out with friends or maybe some much-needed retail therapy in the form of online shopping.

Budgeting is something most college students dread or don’t even know how to do, so one use for a bullet journal is to track your spending habits.

Grade tracker

Another use for a bullet journal is to keep track of your grades. Make a spread that includes each class and the exams you’ll take. Penciling in your score for each test is another way to track your progress. It may also serve as motivation because you’re going to want to see that bar get higher with each exam, so maybe you’ll study more, right?

If you’re looking for something to aid you in organizing your hectic life, or you just need a creative outlet to jot things down, this productivity craze is probably something you want to try. All you need is a notebook and a pen; the rest is completely up to you.