Self-Appreciation Saturdays

SAS: How Bullet Journaling Helps Me Balance my “Controlling” Habit. (2/24/18)

Screenshot 2018-02-09 at 11.51.14 AM

Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH!

Let’s jump right into it: I bought a blank journal at the beginning of May 2017 and decided that with that journal, I would start bullet journaling. Bullet journaling– in a nutshell– is pretty much a decorative planner that you create yourself. Depending on the type of person you are, the pages in your bullet journal are made according to relevance for you and only you. In other words, it’s a planner that is unique to you and you only.

After sharing the many decorative mini to-do lists and monthly goals poster on my social media platforms, many people suggested that I look into bullet journaling. I knew just the concept of it by seeing artists create them and posting theirs online, but I never knew that after watching a couple of girls with their bullet journals that it would make me want to be about the bullet journaling life.

I’ve been an active bullet journal user and I now feel like bullet journaling keeps the order in my current hectic life.


I may have expressed this little trait about myself earlier in the year, but if I didn’t– I need to be in control with everything in my life. This annoying little thing about me is what creates anxiety in high pressured situations and no matter how hard I try to let things go and be carefree for just an hour of my day, I tend to freak out and feel like I’m lost. I didn’t realize that I was this type of person until the start of grad school; I would write out every assignment that was due on my calendar and write when and how much work I was going to do on what day. When I think back at it now, I realize that me writing everything on a calendar has been a habit I’ve had ever since I was in middle school; the age where you don’t really care about anything. I decided to do bullet journaling because I liked to doodle, and I felt like I was now able to have all the things I had to do in one book, whereas before I tried to put everything down in my calendar app on my smartphone. FYI, smartphone calendars never worked.



Like every basic bullet journal out there, I keep a habit and mood tracker at the beginning of every month. Before bullet journaling, I was extremely bad at making everyday habits like getting up early or washing my face and I really wanted to see if taking it down every month would help develop the habit. Some habits stood longer than others, and I’m proud to say that some of these habits listed in my habit trackers are now habits that I don’t think twice about doing every single day. Like, I drink a bottle of water every single day and mark it in my habit tracker; before bullet journaling, I never used to drink water. By tracking the things you’re doing, you’re able to look back at the end of each month and see what you did the most and what you need to improve on doing. It’s a great way to make and break old habits.

With a mood tracker, I use a method of smiley faces that determine how the majority of my day went. Of course, the green is great, yellow is good, orange is ehh, and red is bad. There were definitely months where my mood was in the red more than the green and vise versa, but just like my reasoning about habit trackers, it’s great to see how most of your month went through the different moods you were in. It also provides good motivation to either improve your attitude after a rough month or continue to do good in the upcoming month.

Before I began daily journaling again this year, I used to create a couple of pages called “Rant Space” where I was able to just write out things that I needed to write about. Allowing myself to write these things out was therapeutic in a sense; these thoughts weren’t elaborate journal entries about the beginning of time, they were one to two sentences of nonsense just to get that thought out of my mind and into the world. Nowadays, these rant spaces are now only one page, but it still is helpful to just have a page where I don’t have to think or write properly or correctly



Setting up goals for the upcoming seasons or time you have off from school is encouraging because it allows you to look forward to something. I know personally for me, I tend to look at the final weeks of the semester and think, “man, I’m going to do all these different things on my time off!” and never come around to do them. Jogging them down and making it all pretty is relaxing and exciting, to say the least. Although I never get around to accomplish everything on these pages, they’re always ideas for the next time I have time off to myself.



Occasionally, I will create a spread that focuses on a specific time of year that I am currently going through some hardships and need some sort of guidance to get me through them. As the months pass and I look back to these pages were I was going through something, it sorta makes me smile that that specific page in my bullet journal was created because I was having an issue with something mentally and to see that I overcame it months later is refreshing to see. I constantly look back at my 2018 resolutions spread and remind myself of the promises I made to embrace and make this year a good one. So even though these pages may not be relevant to you anymore, looking back at them and reminding yourself where you came from is always a good sign of growth.



One of the ways I am able to handle my grad school work and my blog is that I document every assignment and post that needs to be written and done in my bullet journal. It is extremely important for me to feel some balance between my academic career and my expressive one because it is so easy to lose a sense of yourself and creativity in a very tedious MA program, so making sure that I don’t feel overwhelmed and begin to neglect one type of my writing for another is another reason how I let myself relax while still keeping my “controlling” trait in check.


For a person who tends to not have enough time in the day and freaks out when I don’t get my work done on time, you might be asking yourself how planning and drawing out a month’s worth of pages in a journal helps balance me out. Also, you might look at the picture above and ask how the clutter of a daily log in a bullet journal doesn’t stress me out. In all honesty, bullet journaling isn’t for everyone. There are people out there who don’t have the time nor energy to get themselves a box of colored pencils and draw their layouts for hours. Yes, it takes hours to complete a monthly spread. If you want to organize your life in a quick and effortless way, just purchase a planner. For me (and many other bullet journal users), drawing and coloring and creating these spreads are relaxing and calming to the mind. It’s the same reason why adult coloring books exist and are popular; the mindlessness of doing it relaxes and eases your mind. Taking a day off to do a monthly spread (I do mine in bulk prior to a new semester starting) simply means that you are taking a day off to relax your mind. When I began to experience back to school anxiety late last month, I took time to create the next three months spreads because it relaxed my nerves and my anxiety.

Ultimately, bullet journaling will always be a thing I think will be present in my life for a long time until my days literally get busy and I got things to handle as an adult. Bullet journals and planners are not meant to record your every move, but it’s supposed to help you organize the messy to-do list in your mind by writing it down on paper. Also, if you’re feeling discouraged because the only bullet journals you see are the really fancy ones that use special paper and pens and layouts, then please take a look at mine and see the individuality a bullet journal is supposed to be like. 

Make it your own, and make it in a way where it helps you and your mind at the end of each day.


-Liz. (:

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