They are everywhere on social media. Instagram photos, Facebook posts and tweets scatter the web, depicting beautiful notebook entries, ranging from simplistic to ornate. They are bullet journals.
The bullet journal was developed by Ryder Carroll and has come into pop culture prominence over the last few years. The goal is to create an organized space within which people can sort through their busy lives and focus on being productive.
Any journal can become a bullet journal. The idea is a sort of do-it-yourself, customizable planner.
“Bullet journaling combines planning, time-management, creative expression, reflection and goal-setting; like a life coach in a notebook,” said Jan Eppingstall for the official Bullet Journal website in her article “Productivity Coach in a Notebook.”
Carroll developed the system in response to his experience with Attention Deficit Disorder and his struggle to allocate his focus to particular tasks in order to be productive with the myriad of demands life imposes.
The idea is to clear the clutter out of the mind by writing it down.
Earning its name, the bullet journal employs the use of simple, bulleted lists as its primary mode of entry. Whether the writer is creating a to-do list, setting goals or tracking habits, the idea is not to spend time composing full thoughts and complete sentences. Keeping to the basics allows writers to produce a physical document in a short period of time.
Though Carroll and a plethora of others have broadcast their methods for organizing a bullet journal, the possibilities are endless.
In an article by Rachel Wilkerson Miller and Ellie Sunakawa for BuzzFeed, the bullet journal is described as the intersection between a to-do list, a planner and a diary.
The photos of bullet journals seen on social media feeds are more often than not extravagant, but no two are exactly alike.
Just as each mind is unique, each bullet journal is unique.
Lydia Anderson, second year graduate student in speech and language pathology, has tried out bullet journaling. She used it both for schoolwork and for personal scheduling.
Anderson said, “It’s kind of a stream of consciousness, which is what drew me to it,” said Anderson. “It’s organized and personalizable. You’re basically designing your own planner, which makes it very time consuming. It doesn’t have to be time consuming, but in the way a lot of people do it, it is.”
To outweigh the time spent designing, creating and upkeeping the journal, Eppingstall argues that writing things down by hand helps to clarify the tasks that need to be done and define nascent thoughts. Additionally, writing aids in memory, twofold of what can be recalled without writing things down by hand.
In addition to being a physical repository for the mental clutter that can clog up the mind, the “analogue system for the digital age,” as bulletjournal.com taglines, bullet journaling can be a fun and creative way to loosen up the drudgery of planning and organizing.
Instagram is full of photos of bullet journals that boast the use of colorful pens, doodles, elegant hand-lettering and even stickers.
The bullet journal can be as creative or as utilitarian as the writer desires or requires.
While there are no requirements for a “proper” bullet journal, the system can be daunting.
“It kind of stressed me out,” said Anderson. “It was organized, but I felt like it needed constant maintenance.”
Though bullet journaling can appear intense at first and it does require continual input, the system is designed to be simple and to aid in productivity.
It may not be for everyone, but the bullet journal can be adapted to be as uncomplicated or as intricate as desired. All it takes is a notebook, a pen and a few bullet points.
Just like that – bang – you’ve got a bullet journal.
Arts and Entertainment Sectional Editor