The Bullet Journal: Where Organization Meets Art

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Anna Blanchard

A combination of creativity and productivity. Anna Blanchard showcases her July calendar!

If you are anything like me, organization is not your forte. You try to keep a homework planner but usually end up jotting down assignments on sticky notes that you never find again. Black ink covers your arms with to-do lists, endless note pages on your phone are filled with passwords, grocery shopping lists and other miscellaneous thoughts. You try to keep a Google calendar with important dates but end up forgetting to check it. You live in constant chaos and can never remember what needs to be done. 

In comes the bullet journal. First appearing as a widespread hobby and organizational tactic in 2013, the bullet journal attempts to mitigate the stress and struggles of organizational delinquents like myself. In an interview, Ryder Carroll, the creator of the Bullet Journal Method, described the creation of this journaling method as the tools and techniques he used to help with his ADD as a child. “Bullet Journaling is essentially a way of keeping a journal, but it’s not a traditional form of journaling … it builds on a lot of concepts that you are familiar with, like bullet lists and calendars and that kind of thing, but it uses these different mechanisms to provide you with a lot more focus and structure in your life,” says Carroll. The bullet journal allows for all of your calendars, to-do lists, etc. to be combined into one planner, saving time and preventing forgetfulness. One of the largest benefits is that it is all on paper. “[The bullet journal] makes you unplug … Technology allows you to constantly be distracted. As long as you’re online, you’re bombarded with information, even if you’re trying to be productive,” says Carroll. Aside from the organizational applications and the break from the technology provided by the bullet journal, it also allows for a creative outlet.

Anna Blanchard combines stylistic elements with organization as she tracks important events. (Anna Blanchard)

Anna Blanchard, the founder of Boulder High’s Bullet Journal Club, says that she does not typically use her bullet journal as a planner but instead uses it as a way to incorporate art into her daily routine. Blanchard loves the creative freedom bullet journaling gives her; she regularly incorporates different mediums of art into her journal, ranging from magazine clippings to pressed flowers. When she does choose to use her journal as a means of organization, she prefers to focus on aspects of life that typically go unrecorded. “I do monthly spreads … and depending on how I am feeling, I’ll either track my habits or moods …  recently, I’ve been doing more mental health trackers,” says Blanchard. Beginning journaling in 2016, Blanchard has felt a great sense of gratification and fulfillment through each journal completed as she can flip through them and “see all the memories [she’s] had.”

Anna Blanchard keeps track of healthy habits while also making art. (Anna Blanchard)

The beauty of the bullet journal is that it can be personalized to fit whatever needs you may have. Margaux Helson, a senior at Boulder High School, has taken yet another approach to bullet journaling. She found that applying the bullet journal techniques to her school work, more specifically her AP Art History notes, allowed her to have more success in the class. “Because I’m such a visual learner, taking my notes in a bullet journal format made it easier to remember things,” Helson says. “It also helped me study because I enjoyed it more and wanted to look back at my notes.”

A unique approach to the bullet journal— Margaux Helson uses bullet journaling techniques to aid her school work. (Margaux Helson)

Interested in taking up this new hobby? Boulder High’s Bullet Journal Club is up and running again after a short break due to Covid-19. The club will meet every Thursday from 11:30-12:00 on Google Meet. All are welcome, whether you are a veteran bullet journalist or new to the art, but underclassmen are especially encouraged to join as most of the current members will be graduating come spring! For more information, email agblanchard01@bvsd.org, pafincher01@bvsd.org, lori.llerandi@bvsd.org or follow @bhs.bujo on Instagram.