Bullet Journaling

As part of a New Year’s Resolution, I decided to really give bullet journaling a try. I tried it a few years ago, but I didn’t stick with it. I am now going on four months of bullet journaling, and I have experienced a truly positive change in my time management, efficiency, and overall happiness. If you are wondering, “What is a bullet journal?” then  watch founder Ryder Carroll’s original methodology:

I pretty much use this same procedure, but the wonderful thing about bullet journals is that you can modify them in any way to suit your own needs. My method is a bit different since I also like to add some personal reflections in my daily posts. I am also somewhat artistic, so I enjoy making each post or spread beautiful. It’s basically an excuse to bust out my colored pencils, pens, and washi tape. Adult coloring books are apparently a thing now, so I don’t feel too silly.

My bullet journal has the following elements:

  1. An index that I continually update
  2. A key or legend
  3. A yearly spread of days/dates for reference
  4. Two 6 month spreads of important dates/events/holidays/birthdays/etc.
  5. “Collections” (lists) of the following: 2016 Goals, Reading List, Articles/Blog Ideas, Music Listening List, Music to Record and Arrange, Repertoire to Perform, etc.
  6. Monthly spreads
  7. Monthly trackers
  8. Daily logs
  9. Notes from master classes, books I’m reading, etc.

If you need some inspiration for how to begin or improve your bullet journal, then watch Kara Benz from Boho Berry. I’ve posted Kara’s bullet journal flip-through below. I have also found Kim Alvarez’s site Tiny Ray of Sunshine very helpful.

The majority of my bullet journal is the daily logging. I’ve experimented with different layouts and haven’t quite decided which way is my favorite. Sometimes I go day by day, which is nice because I’m not confined to a pre-determined amount of space. Sometimes I make a week’s worth of daily logs so that I can see the whole week at a glance and plan ahead. Each method has its pros and cons, and I like the ability to switch between different methods based on my weekly needs.

Another element of my bullet journal that I have been using more and more lately is the monthly tracker. At the beginning of every month I make a list of habits that I want to track. A few of mine this month are: hours of trombone practice, meditation, yoga, hydration, creative research, and reading. If you want to be proactive, you can plan ahead how many times a week you want to practice each habit; other habits may be daily. For example, practicing my trombone and hydrating my body with water (yes, I need to remind myself to drink water) are daily habits, but creative research might be something that I only schedule 3 times a week. I find that I am pretty good at tracking these habits during the week, but I often forget on the weekends.

I mentioned earlier that I have seen improvements in my time management, efficiency, and overall happiness. I like seeing what I have to do each day: the tasks I want to accomplish, and the small things that I might otherwise forget. I really like crossing off completed items– it makes me feel so productive! I enjoy making each post beautiful and exercising my creativity– there’s something meditative and calming about it. I enjoy feeling that my life is “somewhat” organized (especially right now since I am living in what feels like perpetual uncertainty). I also like flipping back through my bullet journal and remembering important life moments. For example, I know that we found out that we’re having a baby boy on Wednesday, January 20th (also, it was partly cloudy, and I practiced 3 hours). I guess what I like most about my bullet journal is that it is highly flexible and extremely personal.

As a music professor, I am realizing how beneficial a bullet journal could be to a music major (or any student, really). I will do a follow up post regarding bullet journaling for musicians.


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