Melanie Glinsmann

Writing my way through the cubicle jungle one day at a time

Why I Started A Bullet Journal

I’ve been in a bit of a funk the last few months. Every time I’d sit down to write, I’d get a few paragraphs in, and then my brain would act like it had never put more than three words together at once. I’d come home from work with the intention of working on something I’d been wanting to do, or even just reading for a few hours to relax, but end up watching reruns of old television shows. Over the past two weeks, I realized my current mood was actually the result of boredom. Long story, short – I needed to change things up.

The first change involves my surroundings. Since I spend a lot more time at home now, I decided to rearrange my apartment. With a one-bedroom apartment, there are only so many ways furniture will fit, but I look at it as an adult version of Tetris. Previously, my desk and what passes for an office space was in my bedroom. I rarely used the space because it felt claustrophobic. I moved everything into my living room where there’s more light and more open space. Plus, with having my workspace in the main living area, there’s more incentive to keep things organized.

The second change will hopefully be one that has long-term impact. I decided to start a bullet journal. After searching Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube for ideas, I believe utilizing a bullet journal could be an effective way to help organize not only my day-to-day appointments and tasks, but also my goals for personal and creative pursuits.

If you’re not familiar with the bullet journal concept, it’s essentially a way to combine a traditional planner/calendar with pretty much any other goals, habits, notes, and information you want to include in the same place. Bullet journals involve the user creating his/her own journal pages in a blank journal instead of writing in a regular lined planner. Pages include monthly calendars and weekly appointments/To-Do lists as a traditional planner does, but also include pages for tracking everything from fitness goals and meal plans to self-care and moods. The journal usually begins with an Index of what each page includes, and pages reflect the creator’s unique needs and inspirations. (For more details, search Pinterest or YouTube for “Bullet Journal.”)

I intend to use a bullet journal through August as a trial run. If I believe it helps me make better use of my time in pursuit of my writing and personal goals, I will continue using the journal.

Here are some reasons I decided to start a bullet journal:

  • FLEXIBILITY – The greatest advantage of a bullet journal verses a traditional journal or planner is that you can incorporate whatever items you want to include to fit your needs and lifestyle. If you are using it more as a true planner, you can add additional pages for specific activities, such as a child’s school calendar or sports schedule. If you want to use it more as a way to track goals, add extra trackers for exercise, savings, or in my case, writing and reading goals. Bullet journals are a great way to have professional, personal and family activities/goals all in the same place.


  • CREATIVE OUTLET – Another advantage of a bullet journal is that it allows you to be as creative with your pages as you want. I freely admit I can’t draw much more than simplistic images. I also admit my handwriting is nothing that would win a prize. Some of the pictures I’ve seen of bullet journals are amazing – full page pictures, hand-lettered quotes, and color everywhere. I admire those who have the artistic skills to put that much effort into their journals. I know my limitations, so I am utilizing more geometric designs.


  • COST EFFECTIVE – Buying separate calendars, planners, and journals each year, or paying for premium service on phone apps to track goals can add up over time. There are certainly some people who spend quite a bit of money on their bullet journals. Special pens, stickers, washi tape (Google it if you don’t know what that is), and fancy journals can also add up if you choose to go that route. But, all you really need is a plain notebook of some sort and a basic pen, and probably a ruler of some kind, all for less than $5. The type of journal is completely up to you. There are special journals created specifically for bullet journaling, but they really aren’t needed. I chose a graph paper notebook. I like the fact that there are already grid lines on the paper, making it much easier to divide up sections without a lot of measuring. The pages are also larger than a traditional journal, so there’s more room to fit everything on one page. The main drawback of a graph paper notebook is that the paper is thin, just like a regular notebook. This mean pages can tear or crease more easily, so it will be important to keep the journal stored properly. As for pens, I use a set of different colored ballpoint pens and colored pencils I already had. If I decide to continue using the bullet journal system, I will consider upgrading to a sturdier journal, and possibly some nicer pens/markers, but unless you’re using professional quality art pencils/pens or a leather bound journal, you can still keep your supplies to a reasonable cost.


  • ANALOG – There are many who prefer to have as much of their lives as possible tracked via an online calendar or smartphone app. A bullet journal would not work for those folks. For those who prefer to unplug from the digital world once in a while, a bullet journal is a perfect opportunity to get away from the computer or phone. I sit in front of a computer for 8-9 hours a day at work, and have additional hours at my home computer when writing. For me, I love the idea of having a physical journal/planner I can use anywhere and doesn’t require Wi-Fi or a charged battery.


The biggest downfall of the bullet journal process I’ve run into so far is the amount of time needed to set it up. Even a simple one with a monthly outlook and weekly To-Do list requires time to mark out the calendar and day’s events. But from what others have said, the more you use the journal, the quicker you get at laying out your pages. I’ll see if that’s the case for me as well.


Here’s to change, and to being more productive!


*Do you currently use a bullet journal, or have you considered using one?

** What schedules, goals, or trackers would you include in an All-In-One journal?


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