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Planner to Bullet Journal: Why I Switched

Artists of the 21st Century
Lillian's Planner

I admit it: I used to be a hoarder. A hoarder of magazine cutouts, beautiful pamphlets, textured paper, colorful paint tubes. The list goes on, but the main thing I used to hoard? Stationery.

I never wanted to use any of the things I had—whether I bought it myself or it was gifted to me—because there was always that possibility in my mind that I would need it more in the future than I did right now. I kept everything stored away for years until finally, I snapped out of it. If I’m not going to use it now, when am I ever going to use it?

During that time, I began using planners. First, I used traditional, dated planners, which I found didn’t fit my planning style very well. There were a lot of pages I didn’t end up using, either because I forgot to write memos down or I literally had nothing going on. Then, I switched to undated planners. I found that I really enjoyed being able to record only the busy months and weeks instead of everything. But still, there were times I wanted more space for busy days; the layout wasn’t perfect. Soon, I grew tired of that planner and bought a new one.

My new planner was colorful, and it had personality. It was dated, but since I had been a planner-user for a while, I reached more for it than in the past. Coincidentally, a little after my planner arrived, I stumbled upon the bullet journal system, which turns any notebook into a multi-functional journal. Bullet journals are an all-in-one agenda, to-do-list, diary, journal—whatever you want it to be. I decided to test out the "bulleting" system in my new planner. Below, you can see a key at the top left. Each type of "bullet" has a meaning, which keeps you organized on all your tasks.

bullet journal

I thoroughly enjoyed the bulleting system in my planner, but still ran into some annoyances because of the set layouts that came with the planner itself. It was time to make the full switch. (I can say those blank notebooks on my shelf have a purpose now.)

Lillian's Daily Planner
Bullet Journal Daily Notes

Bullet journals are also known for their customization since the system can be used in any blank notebook. You can design the layout of your journal based on your own preferences. You can have a monthly spread in a calendar view or you can list out the dates which is what Ryder Carroll, the inventor of the bullet journal, suggests.

October Bullet Journal

Being a full-time student, working two jobs during the school year, and being actively involved in many organizations, I found that listing out the dates of the month was very efficient. I incorporated my own ideas of splitting the page into four columns: academics, activities, work, and personal. While I still had everything on the same spread, the columns helped me mentally separate the categories, unlike in my other planner where everything was combined.

As an artist, who can barely find the time to make art, I am able to spend ten minutes or less a day to relax, be fully creative, and organize my life. In my bullet journal, I practice my hand lettering, draw custom grids to create a planner layout, and do a bit of doodling when I have the time. However, you don’t have to be an artist to bullet journal. Your bullet journal is made for you, and it can be whatever you need it to be.

Lillian's new bullet journal

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