Bullet Journals: A Creative Way to Stay Organized

Weekly bullet journal page decorated with leaves

College can be an incredibly busy time in a student’s life, and that is no different for Ellen Moore, an Education Studies major from Portland, Oregon. Currently, Ellen is involved with the National Residence Hall Honorary, Ambassadors, PLUS Team, the Housing and Dining Advisory Committee, and is a student office assistant for the Vice President of Student Affairs. Needless to say, she is always on the move, and it is vital  to keep track of everything that needs to be done. Luckily, Ellen is an expert at bullet journaling, which helps her stay organized and allows her to express her creativity. She even runs a dedicated bullet journal Instagram account, which has amassed over 200 followers!  We had the opportunity to chat with Ellen about her experience utilizing a bullet journal and she even shared some tips for beginners. Check out Ellen’s answers below. 


Can you describe what bullet journaling is? 

Bullet journaling is an organization system that was created by Ryder Carroll, and it’s basically a way to help you keep track of anything you need to in an organized notebook as an alternative to typical planners and agendas. There are some official guidelines and symbols that true bullet journals typically follow, but one thing I enjoy about them is how customizable the whole system is, so I don’t really follow the exact bullet journal system. I’ve taken it and made it my own a little bit.

Bullet journal page for expense tracking and memories, decorated with a small, yellow umbrella
Ellen’s expense tracking and memory page

What makes a bullet journal more beneficial than a typical planner? 

For me, it’s all about the freedom of customization. I like to lay out my to do lists, weekly, and monthly spreads in specific ways that work best for me. Plus, I like to add color themes and other fun elements that make creating my spreads a fun relaxing activity as well!

How did you get started bullet journaling? 

I had always loved doodling in my planner and using fun pens and fonts, and so when I started watching bullet journal YouTube videos last year, I decided that I would try and start one myself for the year 2019!

How has bullet journaling helped you stay organized?

90% of what I use my bullet journal for is keeping track of homework like you would in any planner. The reason why I prefer bullet journaling to a typical agenda is that I can format it any way that works best for myself. Additionally, I keep monthly trackers and other fun pages that help me organize other aspects of my life, such as budgeting and habits I try to keep up. 

Filled bullet journal page decorated with a Halloween theme (bats, haunted house, jack-o-lantern, ghosts, and candy corn)
Ellen’s Halloween-themed bullet journal page


Do you use bullet journaling as a creative outlet?

I do! Like I mentioned earlier, I like to add themes and other fun elements such as doodles, pictures, and stuff like that. Plus, I like to keep fun memories and highlights of my week written down as well, so I can look back and remember. I usually work on my spreads for the following week on Sundays, and it’s a way for me to relax and be creative in a way that also feels productive. 

What tips do you have for a beginner? 

Keep it simple! There are lots of wonderful and artsy bullet journal spreads all over Pinterest and Instagram that are wonderful to look at but might not be the right system for you. Focus on the layout of your spreads and how that will help you stay organized first, and then add fun colors and other creative elements if you want to! 

What products do you recommend for a beginner? Any specific pens or journals? 

While dot grid journals are the most popular, I am loving my Studio Note A5 notebook which has a regular square grid pattern. The Tomoe River Paper is perfect for the pens that I like to use the best, which includes Tombow Dual Brush Pens, Zebra Mildliners, and Sakura Pigma Micron Pens. 

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