Bullet journaling is one of the simplest time management systems you can use. All you need is a notebook and a pen. It’s a super reflexive system that can help boost your productivity, especially if you’ve had trouble with the rigidity of more conventional diaries. Here’s a guide to setting up your own bullet journal… by Amy Preston
Many of us are familiar with the term ‘time management’. Over my four years at Warwick I have learned that to get the most out of your time at university, it is beneficial to allocate time to improving your mental well-being and happiness, as well as academic work. To do this, I plan out my weeks by using a bullet journal. Bullet journaling is really useful for students as it’s a way to organise both your academic and non-academic life in one little book. Perhaps you’ve mastered the art of the classic revision timetable, but what about finding time to do things that aren’t related to your academic course?
I began bullet journaling the summer before the start of my final year at Warwick after being inspired by the beautiful double page spreads I saw on YouTube videos. When we spend so much of our time looking at screens, I find it really relaxing and therapeutic to put pen to paper and set up my bullet journal for the next month and get creative. This video provides a good intro to how you can use a bullet journal to organise your life. All you need is a pen and a notebook.
Setting up your bullet journal
1. Setting long term and short term goals
I choose several large goals to keep in mind during the term. These tend to be things that will make me feel generally happy and motivated.
For things you really need to improve on, set small and achievable goals. These might be monthly rather than termly, as a shorter time span will encourage you to achieve them more. For example, a large long term goal might be to ‘improve fitness’, but a short term, specific goal would be to ‘go for a 20 minute walk every evening’. Keep your goals precise and they will seem more achievable. There’s nothing better than ticking a goal off to say you’ve completed it!
2. Term time calendar
Take a page to write out all of your coursework deadlines and exam dates across the year. This helped me understand how many weeks I had to prepare for them. A 5000 word essay due in Week 7 may seem far away now, but trust me, it can creep up on you! I like to see when my major assignments are due and colour in a box next to the date once I’ve started the assignment and then another one once it’s completed (see left image).
3. Weekly calendar: Scheduling tasks and events
Take a double page spread and divide up the space into seven sections, one for each day of the week. Use this weekly spread to bullet point your daily tasks. These might consist of attending your seminar at 10am on Tuesday, or trying out the Language Café on Thursday evening.
If you want to follow true bullet journal tradition, in your weekly calendar a bullet point denotes a task and a circle indicates an event. You can put a cross over the bullet point once the task has been completed. If you didn’t get around to a particular task, drawing an arrow around the bullet point shows that it will be migrated to the next day. This is just a guide, you can format your weekly schedule in whatever way works best for you.
4. Colour Coding
Using colours to visually map out which activities you’ve spent your time on is a clear way to track your priorities. As the photo shows below, I add coloured squares to each day depending on what I’ve done. For example:
Pink – Social activities (e.g. meeting with a friend at Curiositea)
Blue – Health and Fitness (e.g. taking a swim at Warwick Sport)
Purple – Academic Work (e.g. productive meeting with a tutor about an essay)
Orange – Job Search (e.g. meeting with Warwick Careers Adviser)
Green – Self-Improvement (e.g. cooked a new recipe today)
Your bullet journal can be as extravagant or as simple as you want. There are no rules to bullet journaling so why not get creative and experiment with styles? Set small, achievable goals for yourself and you’ll feel better and more motivated to organise your time.
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All images are author’s own.