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  • Writer's pictureJanice K. Lee

Bullet Journaling for Productivity

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

And 9 Bullet Journal Spread Ideas for Students and Beginners

What is Bullet Journaling?

Bullet journaling, at its core, is a productivity system that serves as a home to your big ideas, self-development, and awareness! I can vouch that for the past three months of using it, my bullet journal has helped nourish my growth-mindset— from setting goals, fixing (or creating) habits, to helping my mental health.

Your bullet journal doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to look like the wonderfully aesthetic ones with tons of stickers and colors. Its design is based on what works for you.

A bullet journal can be used as a diary, vision board, brainstorming page, or whatever you choose to use it for. The key thing about the bullet journal is that it is a place to make your own. I personally use it as a monthly goal, journal, and entertainment tracker. Keep reading and you'll see how I do that.

“Track the past, organize the present and plan for the future.” -Bullet Journal Founder Ryder Carrol

So you want to get started journaling but don't know where to start?

First, let's see if you would commit. A bullet journal is great for people who:

  • want to get more organized

  • likes to-do lists, planners, and journals

  • has a lot of thoughts floating around but not written down

  • love goal setting and tracking results and habits

  • want to plan their life more effectively

  • want a place of self-expression and/or self-awareness

If you've said yes to a good majority and want to slowly implement productive systems to self-development, you've found the right place. I will show you how I use my bullet journal! A few disclaimers: I don't do monthly and weekly planners since I do those on my planner, a separate notebook! Also, this is just how I do mine. Feel free to do something completely different or draw influence from my spreads!



Here's a breakdown of the spreads I include every month:

1) Cover Spread

Where I design the cover design for the month! I use this page to establish a general aesthetic for the month. I also like to integrate an inspirational quote in the design to motivate me.

2) Goals Spread

Where I outline my goals! At the end of each month, I put a smiley face next to the ones I've accomplished.

3) Habit Tracker

A popular spread, great for tracking your habits! Draw out 3-4 mini monthly calendars, decide which habits you want to start or break, and fill in the days you did your habits! This is my main system used for improving my sleep/wake up, and exercise, and work schedule.

note: some pictures were taken near the beginning of the month so some of them may seem incomplete!

4) Daily Recap (through pictures or text)

This isn't much for productivity but for journaling. I write a sentence or two about what I did that day so I can look back on it. I like to look back at it if I want to know when I did what, or if I'm bored! I love seeing it get filled by the end of each month.

5) Sleep Log

This is a must every month for me. The first thing I do when I'm out of bed is highlighting the time I was asleep to when I woke up (refer to the images for a better idea). Last month, it helped me identify my poor sleep schedule. This month, it's helped me actually improve my sleeping and wake up habits. Ever since I've physically tracked my sleeping habits, I've certainly improved my sleeping quality. Sleeping is crucial for college students (check out this Ted site with really useful videos on how sleep affects your performance).

6) Gratitude Log

A great, wholesome spread for when you're feeling stressed or lost! It helps me recognize the good in my life and feel at ease when I feel like I have a lot of my plate. Research has found that keeping a log of what you are thankful for can lower stress, help you sleep better, and may even reduce the risk of heart disease.

7) Playlist Spread

Where I list my favorite tunes of the month! This tends to be the prettiest spread since this is where you can get creative with the design. Have fun with this one and play around! I'm the type of person to listen to the same basic songs on repeat while relaxing, reading a book, or doing work, but it varies slightly from time to time, making this playlist spread a great log to jot down your favorite jams.

8) Netflix & Movies/TV Shows Spread

My favorite watches and binges of the month. Drop the title and a nice little review or rating. Like the Playlist spread, I use this for entertainment and craft so feel free to do as you like!

9) Activities Spread

Where I highlight some of my favorite events of the month in a cute cartoon. Can be for work, fun, or both!

10) (Extra) Book Spread

I do this spread only when I know I'll be actively reading during the month! It's a great way to track your books and look back at all of your reads. I kept myself busy with books since I was running a book club this summer as a quarantine activity.



Thank you for sticking to the end with me and I hope you’re inspired to bullet journal! To summarize, these are 9 bullet journal spreads that have made a difference in my productivity and well-being.

  1. Cover & Quote

  2. Goals Spread

  3. Habit tracker

  4. Daily Recap

  5. Sleep Log

  6. Gratitude Spread

  7. Playlist Spread

  8. Netflix/Movies/TV Shows Spread

  9. Activities Spread

  10. (Extra) Books Spread

If you need more inspiration, feel free to browse through my very own Bullet Journal account on Instagram! It has more in-depth explanations of how I use it, and additional, interesting spreads. Thanks for reading, and happy journaling!


About the Author

Janice Lee is a Sophomore studying Marketing, Accounting, and Entrepreneurship at Rutgers Business School. When she's not looking at business plans, she's most likely on her Oculus Go, experimenting to brew the best iced coffee, or writing about it.

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