Students use bullet journals for organization and creativity


Emerson Latham/ Iowa State Daily

Tessa McDonald, freshman in genetics, decorates her bullet journal with various pens and markers. McDonald said she uses her bullet journal as a way to express her creativity relieve stress.

Emerson Latham

Whether you are taking notes, planning your day, keeping track of your mood or making a to-do list, a bullet journal is a customizable memoir that can fit all of your needs.

The Bullet Journal website says the bullet journal, or ‘BuJo,’ was created by digital product designer and author, Ryder Carroll.

The website describes Carroll’s path to creating the journal. In the early years of his life, Carroll was diagnosed with learning disabilities and had to come up with a way to stay focused and productive. After a lot of trial and error, he developed the bullet journal methodology.

By just searching the phrase “bullet journal tutorial,” Google generates over 15 million results, showing its popularity.

Autumn Tangerose, freshman in animal ecology, started bullet journaling this school year.

“I had a friend in high school who used to do it all the time,” Tangerose said. “She would always try to get me to make one but I was always like, ‘No, I remember my homework.’”

Tangerose said being at Iowa State has proven to her how college is much different from high school.

At the beginning of the year, Tangerose said she would forget to check for homework on Canvas. This is the main reason she said she started her bullet journal, to keep track of which assignments are due and when.

A popular spread format for the bullet journal is using the tracking method. For Tangerose, keeping track of how much water she drinks in a day helps keep her hydrated.

In the spirit of the holiday season, Tangerose has a page dedicated to Christmastime and a list of which gifts she is going to buy people so she doesn’t forget anyone.

Tangerose said she finds most of her inspiration for her ‘BuJo’ from Pinterest and a friend on Instagram.

Those using bullet journals can get creative by using a variety of pens, pencils, markers and more. Tangerose said she prefers ‘Midliners,’ which are pastel highlighters that are double ended. One tip is fine point and the other is a broad tip for highlighting.

Unlike Tangerose, Tessa McDonald, freshman in genetics, doesn’t have a preference on what type of pens or markers she uses in her bullet journal.

McDonald said she started bullet journaling because while she loves to have everything planned out, she could never find the ideal planner.

“I started out just writing to-do lists and then it became more of a relaxing, decompressing thing for me when I got stressed,” McDonald said.

Another benefit McDonald said she finds from using her ‘BuJo’ is it provides her with a creative outlet. She said she used to be in music activities in high school, so now this is a way for her to express her creativity.

For McDonald, her inspiration comes from YouTube videos.

“There are a lot of cool ‘Plan Out the Month with Me’ [videos] that I like to watch,” McDonald said. “[…] It’s not as hard as people think it is and it doesn’t have to be perfect.”

If you’re looking for something to do over break or maybe wanting to get organized as a New Year’s resolution, bullet journaling might be something to get into. Bullet journals can help students stay organized while staying busy and can be a fun hobby to have.