How to start a fun bullet journal for the fall semester

Erin Haar/Staff

Picture this — you sit down to check Facebook or watch a few YouTube videos and the first thing you see is a post about bullet journaling. This style of keeping your life organized has exploded on the internet over the last few years, leaving us to either hop on the bandwagon or look at pictures on Pinterest with envy. So what is bullet journaling, and how can you use it to organize your life as a student when the fall semester begins? We at the Clog have created a beginner’s guide to help you out.

Choose a notebook

Before you start bullet journaling, the first thing you’ll need is probably the most important — a journal! I use the A5 dotted notebook from Leuchtturm1917, arguably the most well-known notebook brand in the bullet-journaling community. If you’re not down to splurge on a fancier notebook, that old journal in your drawer you’ve never used before will work just fine.

Create a key


Having a key is essential to bullet journaling, and you can customize it! Here is the system that the Bullet Journal website recommends, but I use a different one. I write down any tasks I need to do and then I check them off when complete or draw an arrow if I decide to do them later. For events, I signify them by putting a dot next to the text or by writing it in a designated event section (more on that later).

Get creative


Although this is optional, many bullet journalers choose a theme or color scheme each month to decorate their journal. Whether your style is minimalist or fancy, choosing a theme can help you separate your months in the journal and make the process more fun. Since August is coming up, I chose an ocean theme to reminisce about the summer we will be losing very soon *sheds tear.* Here’s a more artistic calendar that shows how a simple theme can become really creative!

Start a calendar


Also known as a future log or monthly log, the calendar will serve as a place to keep track of all your events and things to do during the month. I usually write the days of the month on the left side of the page and leave plenty of space to write my events down. 

For the calendar above, I wrote the days on the side and “August” at the top with a black pen, adding a wave pattern with a Crayola marker. However, you can be way more creative with your drawings and titles if you want! In the calendar featured earlier, I drew waves in the style of AmandaRachLee, an artist and bullet journaler on YouTube. To finish that fancier calendar, I wrote my title in cursive instead of print.

Create a weekly page


Depending on your style, there are two main ways to go about making your weekly pages — you can write your tasks as needed or you can plan space for them ahead of time. The first is simpler because it only requires you to write something down when you need to. To show how this would look, I wrote “Wednesday, August 1” at the top of a page and added my tasks and events underneath. Here, I used the dot to signify the event and kept the decorations minimal!

If you prefer to plan ahead, you can split up your page into sections to represent individual days of the week, kind of like a traditional agenda. When I use this approach, I designate one area of each section for events, which helps you keep track of them if you don’t like using the dot method mentioned previously. In the remaining space, I write my tasks and add decorations to spice up the page!

Whether you love or hate the idea of being creative, bullet journaling can be a great way to get organized before the school year starts. By keeping track of your events and tasks in one notebook, you’ll be able to stay a little bit saner during the fall semester as well as plan for the future. The fact that the bullet journal is 100 percent customizable is the best part — whether it’s minimalist or super fancy, give it a try and let us know what you think!

Contact Erin Haar at [email protected].