Organization with a creative twist

To-do lists and calendar schedules don’t always have to be boring.

Some students, also known as “bullet journalists,” spend hours designing the perfect planner to keep track of their schedule and help keep them productive. Bullet journaling, a hobby in which people design spreads featuring artwork, calendars and lists, has become an increasingly popular trend.

Another component that is essential to bullet journaling is calligraphy. Freshman Felicia Kwok knows this firsthand, as she’s self-taught and incorporates it in her journal ever since she started bullet journaling in the summer of last year.

“I really like calligraphy, so decorating [my journal] and making your chores look more fun always helps you get it done faster,” Kwok said. “I’ve always really liked cursive, and calligraphy is really pretty, so I taught myself and I watch videos if I don’t understand how to write a certain letter.”

Kwok’s journal has a simple style, and she has a color scheme for every month, whether it be yellow for January or red for February.

“I like keeping track of everything and if I know what I have to get done, it makes me feel better. I don’t like having the fear of incompletion and there’s a lot of satisfaction when you’re able to check off your chore,” Kwok said. “Don’t be intimidated by the bug bullet journalists on Youtube because they’re really good and have done it for a long time. Just do it to your liking and try your best.”

Senior Fitty Liu has always been unconsciously bullet journaling.

“I have always kept an agenda and I’ve always liked doodling and doing things with the pages that are characteristics of a bullet journal, but after I found the community of these bullet journalers, I actually started getting more and more inspired by the spreads and techniques that they use,” Liu said. “I’m not really organized with my bullet journal, it’s more of a scrapbook for my ideas.”

Bullet journaling helps Liu visually plan out projects and events so she has the freedom to draw them out, as opposed to a limited spreadsheet. She jots down a variety of different ideas: calendared events such as big deadlines or birthdays, shopping lists, color palettes in magazines, and random lists like her favorite recipes or workouts.

“I started getting into bullet journaling more because I realized that I needed to pay closer attention to certain details in my life that needed organization,” Liu said. “Being able to document these things helped me partition my time better and made micromanaging a lot more pleasing, even aesthetically. I use my bullet journal to jot [anything] that comes to mind because if I ignore it I’m going to forget it.”

Liu has put her own twist on these bullet journals, and has sewn her own notebooks and started using blank grid pages instead of using pre-printed agendas.

“I can’t actually journal in the way that most [bullet journalists] do because my life is quite busy I tend to aim for efficiency rather than aesthetic,” Liu said. “My spreads always end up like a mashed up melange of everything that’s going on my life rather than anything that noteworthy, which, in my opinion, was the point of a bullet journal anyway, to organize an incredibly busy life in a manageable way, not necessarily to create a work of art, although that is often a part of it.”

When senior Brian Qian was first introduced to the bullet journaling by his friend during the summer of his sophomore year, he posted pictures of his more minimalistic designs, as the community was fairly new at the time.

“At the beginning I really didn’t know what to do because there were very little resources to use. So when I started out I was more minimalistic and conservative with my creativity, but I gradually started to pull inspiration from others and I just did whatever I liked,” Qian said.

With just a black Muji gel pen and a blue Moleskine journal, Qian is able to create a multitude of bullet journal spreads and is a part of the Studyblr community, blogs on Tumblr that showcase studying tips, organization skills and everything in between.

“Studyblr is a community where you want to improve yourself through studying or through organizing,” Qian said. “It’s not really about who’s the smartest or who’s the best, it’s more just about finding any way to improve yourself.”

Qian has transitioned from solely posting on Tumblr to showcasing his bullet journal spreads on his Instagram and Youtube, studywithinspo, to reach a wider audience and have more creative control with his content.

“My absolute favorite part would be experiencing this with different types of people and learning from each other. Everyone has a lot of different viewpoints that are special and unique, and I think it’s the perfect learning experience,” Qians said. “Some struggles would be maintaining it and keep on going because after a while you do get a little bit tired, but the people in the community keep me motivated and the people who post daily are very inspirational to me.”

By Olivia Chiang, Staff writer
Photo by Emily Ng

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