Organize Your Way To A Better You With A Bullet Journal

Not better, just different!

Image of someone’s very neatly-organized bullet journal via Flickr user María Garrido

For a long time, at the beginning of every new year, I would spend an hour or more at a Staples near my old job, touching day planners and debating whether or not I should even spend money on something that I would use for three months and then shove in the back of a drawer. I have always been a planner, a worrier, a frett-er, someone who relishes the thought of a well-laid plan, checking off the steps in my head as I walk down the street or put rice in the rice cooker. I like order. I like to know what’s ahead. A day planner is the easiest way to manage that anxiety; by corralling the jumbled bits and pieces of your brain onto a page specifically meant for that information, the knots unwind.

For years, I relied on a Moleskine planner that spanned 18 months, starting in July — the time I usually decided I needed to Get My Life In Order — and ending in December of the following year. It felt renegade, in a way, because I was flouting convention. I’ll start my planner in the middle of the summer, like a true rebel, I thought to myself. I’ll show them.

This year, like every year, I had a Moleskine planner that I used faithfully until one day, I stopped. What no one tells you about a planner is that if there are days or even weeks that go by without a single note, event or triple-underlined reminder to pay your credit card bill, you feel badly because the implication is that if there’s nothing written down, there’s nothing going on in your life at all. In a fit of pique one Saturday and inspired by this BuzzFeed post about bullet journals, I bought a notebook at the overpriced bookstore down the street, sat at my desk, and got my life together, one page at a time.

A bullet journal is a system that feels complicated to start, but is actually very easy. It’s just a to-do list, trumped up with symbols and various other systems, all meant to ease the friction of remembering what it is that you have to do and what it is you should be doing.

The actual organization bit of it is less of the draw; as I already have a running list of what’s going on in my life in my head at all times, I don’t really need another system to keep it in place. The act of maintaining this is nothing more than another self-soothing method, a neat way of cataloguing my anxieties, my desires and the shit I actually have to do, all in one place.

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