Exploring Bullet Agendas

Journal, Writing

I know it’s March, and posts like this need to happen in January, because it’s like the beginning of the year and things — but I started my ‘yearly agenda’ now, so…

I started keeping a proper full-on annual agenda only last year when I was gifted one, but I’ve kept impromptu agendas in the form of disposable sticky notes first year of college. It was the first time I had more activities and responsibilities than “finish homework, eat and sleep”, and I needed something to keep track of courses, laundry, expenses, extracurriculars, all that jazz. I had my iCalendar, which was (and still is) my academic organizing savior, but with other dorm chores and meeting dates and things, I needed something physical to check off because I needed that feeling of accomplishment as my pen crossed out chores off that daunting list. Of course, now I’m graduated and my responsibilities almost tripled, so I definitely needed a planner.

Okay, lets talk structure of your agenda.

I started off with a store bought agenda which already had allocated places of things for me, the books I had to read and places I had to visit and dates I had to care about. It had pages as month overviews and sections for notes I never used and coloring pages I never got around to and I never ended up using all of it. The weekly chore pages were the most functional for me, but even then I left a lot of empty spaces and would fill it with any babble just for the sake of filling it with something. Anyways, so it worked but the task of planning in it felt tedious in and of itself, if that makes any sense. I don’t know if it’s because I’m the type of person who hates feeling like something has gone to waste, or if it’s like a human compulsion to use up any ‘cool privileges’ one receives that becomes an impetus to fill up all the slots. But away from any psychological analyses why it was laborious for me, it just was.

I wasn’t really on the hunt for better looking agendas, I just returned to my sloppy sticky notes, would jot some check boxes down on my planner at work, stuff like that. It works but it’s not organized and it’s not pretty, so I picked up an empty notebook from home and took my ruler and started creating calendars and weekly dates and sections. I’m not really the artist of any crew, so it wasn’t the prettiest thing (which is important for the mental health of the organizer in my brain) and I kept it for a short while then discovered ‘bullet journals’.

My sister would sketch in them the most deceptively amazing shapes and I hadn’t noticed it was because the bullets were perfectly aligned so that you could structure anything you wanted! I did a bit of research (which means watched a bunch of YouTube) and decided bullet journaling was the agenda planner for me (for now). I didn’t need rulers (which I am too lazy to use any time I do anything), I didn’t need too many colors if I didn’t want them (again, because of the laziness thing) and the creativity was pretty simple (which I guess works because I’m not really a ‘creative’).

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What’s really handy about this journal is the pen holder at the front. You’d be surprised with the pen disappearing dilemma going on, how much you’ll appreciate having one glued to your agenda at all times.

Your Bullet Journal Layout

The first thing I really had to keep in mind was whether I was going to prioritize pretty over function. I went with function. One of the most comfortable elements of bullet journaling is how quick it is to create and how quicker it is to make use of your entire page without it looking too dull. So find your page inspiration (in my case it was YouTube, but Pinterest and Instagram are filled) and start bullet-ing how you’re going to use it. I started with an overview of the year, which I didn’t know I needed at first until I merged both my work and study calendars together and realized it was actually much more practical for me to have instead of two separate and virtual calendars.

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If you haven’t already noticed, my ‘creativity’ is as simple as it gets, and this again, is because I chose to prioritize the functionality of my calendars. Maybe one day I’ll go back and make them prettier.

Pages like, future logs and all the months at a glance all at once were completely useless to me because of how versatile my months are. But I couldn’t completely throw out overviews, so I found that having a month by month overview of probably how I’ll spend this coming month was best. I decided to put a title page vertically and the month laid out horizontally, but you and shift this around obviously, this was just most practical for my visual practicality. Again, any colors used weren’t for a pretty appeal but they actually had a purpose, so the highlighted sections were days off, pen colors differentiated between work and studying, etc.

Your Weekly Schedule

This was the section I probably had the most fun with, but had the most trouble finding what worked as well. There were so many layouts to go through, and I had to pick carefully because these are the pages I’ll use the most and for the longest time. So I needed to find a structure I could fill up and was most practical for me and stick to it. Obviously, Occam’s Razor and I opted for the simplest designs as my most functional.

Now, I removed my actual duties and things because that’s my own business, but this is the structure I found most useful for me.

I decided on these pages, a tiny hint of sketching to make things look a little more appeasing was relaxing and quick to do so it didn’t take away from the purpose of the pages. This for me, for now, was perfect.

Your Key

Now, the best part of all of this for me, was the key. It’s like my secret code with my agenda and it’s what truly makes it mine. I use symbols on my tasks whether this is complete or not or whether this needs adjustment, and it’s the most practical part of organization in a bullet journal because sometimes, you don’t finish all you gotta finish in a day. It is relaxing that I can migrate a task, or I can cancel or switch or whatever and you can choose as many or as little symbols as works for you. This short list worked for me, because I like to stick to a small amount of standards, but that’s just me.

The key for me, helped shift writing and completing tasks from becoming a burden if incomplete to becoming regular day to day things that can be worked around and prioritized to be completed. Believe it or not, this system of positive psychological manipulation where it seems you’re more free to not complete a task has actually motivated me to stick to it almost completely.

And again, the aesthetic isn’t the best, but it works for right now.

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This is crucial personalization because only you will understand and will use these symbols for your scheduling


The best part of keeping a DIY bullet journal or otherwise, is you get to choose how much you’ll use of it and when you’ll get to use any of it. I’m not constrained by certain types of pages I need to fill out or by a standard structure that needs to be followed through the entire year. As my year moves around and my tasks shift, so can my bullet journal. Versatility is key and it’s relaxing for me.

These were my thoughts and this and I hope it was somewhat beneficial. To the next blog post and happy journaling!



all photos in this post are my own photography©