I have to say that I am a huge fan of planners. Since I was a little girl, I loved having agendas and notebooks and color pens. I loved the end of the year because that meant that new agendas would be released, and that’s were my savings went.
Time has passed and I haven’t lost my love for planners, agendas, time management apps, etc… However, when you are a Ph.D. student, you want a tool you can rely on, that will help you organize your tasks and optimize your time.
I have tried lots of iPhone apps, but I have realized that I like pen and paper. I just like writing things down and I feel that if I write it, it is somehow more real than setting it as a to-do item in an app. Besides, I feel so productive when I cross out a completed task, which is not quite the feeling I get when ticking the box next to the task in an app.
I have tried many different types of planners, my favorite ones being those that have an individual page per day and hours listed on them; but, even when using my favorite planners, at some point, days got busy and some pages were left blank and then I felt like all that space was left unused.
Honestly, finding a perfect planner always felt like mission impossible. There was always one detail or another that just didn’t feel right and which didn’t inspire me to be consistent in logging my activities and to-do lists.
Then came the bullet journal…
I had read a bit about it, seen pinterest posts about it, and when I googled it, I could see all the beautiful things people claimed you could do with it. So, I decided to give it a try.
In general terms, the bullet journal works with the following sections:
- Key: it’s the convention you will use to identify your events, tasks, thoughts in your journal. There is one suggested in the original bullet journal website; but you can get as creative as you’d like.
- Index: helps you keep track of which pages contain what, and easily refer to any section you’ve created.
- Future logs: Allow you to write down important events that may occur throughout the year. It’s like a year-at-a-glance approach.
- Monthly logs: perfect for planning your month, setting your goals and general to-dos.
- Daily logs: the space where you can create your daily to-do lists. You can jot down events, ideas, tasks and marked them as completed as you make progress.
HOWEVER, since you are in charge of your bullet journal, you can add as many sections as you like, and organize them as they best suit your needs. (The list above does not contain all the bullet journal details. For a more detailed and thorough explanation, you can refer to the bullet journal website).
In my husband’s words:
“This is the first agenda where I see you log your things every single day, keep track of them and enjoy every second of it.”
It is true. I love the flexibility that the bullet journal gives you and mainly, how it helps you keep track of your To-Dos. If you miss one logging day, there are no pages left blank, and you have as much space for logging daily activities as you wish. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to follow a specific order in your journal. It is all up to you. Also, you can benefit from all the ideas that the bullet journal community shares, and you can adopt as many as you want in your journal.
I have taken advantage of this idea not only for checking my daily tasks, but also as a stress-relieving tool where I can doodle and practice my calligraphy (in the Academic world, stress-relieving practices are always welcome 😉 ).
As I have said before, these types of tools are very personal and what works for someone, might not fit the practices of others. However, if you are undecided on what you want your agenda to look like, I suggest you give it a try.
I have been loving my bullet journal so much that I decided to be more active in the “bujo” community, so I created an Instagram account with my bullet journal doodles and pages. You can find me here: @marce_journaling. Hopefully I’ve poked your curiosity to the point that you’ll see it. Overall, you need to remember that there are no mistakes with the bullet journal, you just have to express yourself!
A little disclaimer: for keeping track of appointments and meetings, I still use my calendar. Just to look how the day looks like in terms of time and sometimes, I need that little reminder on my phone.