Bullet Journaling

If you’ve been in the studyblrcommunity for very long you’ve probably heard of a style of planner called abullet journal. At its core it’s designed to be a catch-all for the varioustasks, appointments, thoughts, and lists you create as you go about your day, allowing you to quickly jot down a note or to-do and be able to remember and either complete or expand on it later—if you want to learn more, you can go to the creator’s website, bulletjournal.com.

However, as with any system, everyone has taken and modified it in their own way to fit their needs. I’ve taken the basic concept and modified it to fit my needs as a student on a quarter system, with work, classes, and extracurriculars to keep track of.

I use a Piccadilly essential notebook for my bullet journal. It’s essentially a bargain Moleskine; it’s about a third of the price, but likely about as durable. It also has better paper, in my opinion. Mine’s a little run-down simply from being dropped and thrown into my backpack over six months but it’s held together pretty well, considering how much I use it. Mine also has graph paper, as I find it easier to make my calendar pages and keep everything nicely lined up with all the little squares. I also use post-it flags with mine to mark important pages: purple is this quarter’s schedule and classes, blue is the current month, and green is “project pages”, i.e. any lists or notes I’ll need to access often

My index is on the first real page of the bullet journal. Looking back I wish I’d skipped to the next page, as this one is attached a little funny, but oh well. I mark down all my months, quarters, and list/note pages in here. Even after seven months it’s not a very long list as I tend to use my journal as more of a day-to-day planner than a book of lists, so it’s mostly just months and quarters her

For each term of school I make a quarter spread. Here I put down my weekly schedule for that quarter, including classes, work, and clubs, as well as brief information on each of my classes. You can see I had kind of a packed schedule this past quarter! For each class I like to write down the professor’s name and what sort of assignments and tests we’ll have; for example my scientific computing class (green) had only biweekly quizzes and homework, while math (orange) had midterms, a final, and weekly homework, which I noted. From this spread onwards everything is color-coded. Work is always highlighted and sorority events and tasks are purple, and anything super important, such as exams or deadlines, is red. Classes tend to rotate between the same three or four colors (because I like them and chose them to contrast against each other); for this quarter scientific computing was green, mechanics of materials was blue, dinosaurs started out pink but went to light blue (I got a new pen) and linear algebra was orange. Next quarter I’ll use three of those same colors for my new classes

On to the monthly spread. I like to do this sort of visual calendar instead of the one originally described for the bullet journal, as I’m more of a visual person and this kind of calendar helps me see amounts of time better. Once more things are color-coded, though I tend to just use red, purple, and highlighter, as only larger events get put on this calendar. I also like to put a diagonal line through completed days so I can more easily track the passage of time (I just really like marking things off, okay). The opposing page is the monthly overview; it tends to be pretty short because most of my tasks and events are due/planned weekly. This is really just for longer-running tasks, ones which don’t have to be done within a short amount of time, and for making note of events past this month. The original bullet journal system doesn’t really do too well in terms of planning past the current month, so I’ve adapted it to have future events marked on the monthly pages. Since I don’t really plan out further than about two months in advance this works just fine.

This is my main change to the original system: the weekly spread. Since my homework is due weekly and I have very short terms of only about 10 weeks, I tend to think more in terms of weeks than months; ergo I needed some sort of weekly to-do list. This list has EVERYTHING due that current week, as well as things I should be thinking about/working on for the next week, and events for the current and next weeks. You can see my color coding system in action here, with important things marked in red, and everything else marked in its appropriate color. You can also see my symbols for different things. If a task has a couple of smaller subtasks (like studying for my CEE exam) I’ll move those task boxes in one square so they’re nested under that task. I also tend to write the shorthand of my classes in front of each task as well as color coding them; it’s probably overkill, but I started out doing that and just kind of stuck with it.

For most short-term lists I’ll just use a post-it note or a page from a notepad, but for things I’ll need to reference for a while or I want in a safer place, I’ll make a new page for them in my notebook. I usually skip pages between weeks and months so I’ll often just use one of those for the page instead of going ahead of my current week. Here’s a couple examples of these kinds of pages.

A list of things I need to work on as chair of my sorority’s social media committee. As you can tell I’ve been a bit swamped with other stuff and unable to work on these much, heh. Note how this is a mix of tasks and notes, sometimes with subnotes fleshing out a certain task.

A page of brainstorming for a job interview last fall. I basically wrote down all sorts of examples of my various strengths and successes, as well as tried to think of possible questions and how I could answer them truthfully yet stressing my qualifications. I felt a bit more prepared after doing this sort of brainstorming, as I was able to more easily answer a question because I’d thought about examples beforehand. (For those of you who are curious, I did get the job and have been happily working it these past few months :) )

My study plan for finals during winter quarter. I basically wrote down all sorts of tasks I wanted to do to prepare myself and from that figured out what to do each day to use my time most efficiently. After I took each final I would color in all the boxes for that class, even if I hadn’t fully finished that task, and put a check next to the name of the class. It was a nice way to see my progress. I’m happy to say I did very well on all of my classes this quarter; only one was slightly lower than expected, but for the most part I was very happy!

And that’s my bullet journal! Let me know if you’d like more explanation/pictures of anything, or have questions! I’d be happy to oblige. :)

How to Plan Your Study Time


This is a planning method that I’ve come up with by combining different study methods I’ve come across until now.

I plan for each test, exam or assignment in detail . (At least) a week before the test/exam, I spend a day to complete my study plan - then I (try to) follow the plan religiously until the test day. 

Basically, there are 4 steps in my planning process:

1. Outline the big “chunks”.
i.e. the main topics to be covered for the test. These are often headings of chapters or modules. I call these “tasks”.

2. Break down& list the subtasks.
A topic/task must be broken down into smaller, manageable pieces that are very specific. More specific goals can lead to greater productivity. I refer to these smaller steps as “subtasks”.
Ask WHAT and HOW. WHAT are you going to study and HOW are you going to study it? So for example, “Study chapter 1.1″ would answer what you are going to study but not HOW. Break it down into smaller steps. Goals like “Summarise ch 1.1″, “Go through problems 1.1.3 to 1.1.11″, etc. are better.

3. Weigh the tasks & subtasks. Highlight the tasks/subtasks that: a) the lecturer emphasised or mentioned as a potential exam question; b) you struggled with specifically. These must be distinguished because they will require more attention and time than the rest of the tasks.

4. Decide when each subtask needs to be completed. I follow The Seven Day Study Plan to plan when I will complete each subtask, and assign a day (between D2-D6) (remember, D1 is used for planning and checking that you have everything that you need) There are a few rules that I bear in mind at this stage:

a) Assign more time to study for the sections highlighted in step 3.
b) Try, if possible, to finish one module within 1-2 days.
c) Try, if possible, to study the material in a logical order i.e. such that the topics flow and are connected to each other in a logical manner. Lecture plans often flow quite logically so I like to study the subject in the order it was taught.
d) It is a personal rule of mine to leave the last day (D7) open. I always try to cover everything before D7 and use the last day to catch up with whatever task I was unable to complete, and to review everything before the test.

After I am done planning, I copy the subtasks into my bullet journal/weekly planner.

+(High-res version of this image can be found here, or here.)

This is the template I use to plan my study time for a test or exam, following the process I have described above. To demonstrate the planning process itself I’ll use my study plan for my Intro to electrical engineering class test as an example.

So I fill in the title - the test/assignment I need to study for. Then I fill in the due date (i.e. the date I am writing this test) in the top right hand corner.

I now fill in the Basic Outline block - I list the modules I need to study for this test.

Next, I write each point in the basic outlines block into each task block. Then I write down the corresponding textbook chapter number and the slide set number/name.

I go through my textbook, slides, resources, etc. and decide how I need to study. Usually the structure would be: summarise - revise summary - go through examples from lectures/textbook - do tutorial questions - do textbook questions. (Here, I list the subtasks in no particular order because I write them down as they pop into my head. I write them down in order in my bullet journal later.)

I highlight the sections that are important/guaranteed to be in the test, and the sections that I struggled with. 

I assign a day to each subtask. I would usually plan to study 2 easy chapters together and plan separately for a more challenging module.

The completed plan would look something like this.

I use this process to plan for my essays as well. In this case, I list steps like planning, research, drafting, final draft in the Basic Outlines box, then follow a similar process as above.

If you have any questions, inbox me :)


How I Manage My Time

(Image credit to ME: PLEASE DO NOT REPOST)

Hi all!

I’ve had quite a number of asks wanting some time management tips, so I thought I’d make a post about my time management plan! 

1ST RULE: Break Long-term Tasks into Short-term Tasks

So on Friday evening, I sit down with a piece of paper and write down the heading: BIG TASKS, and list the major tasks for the weekend + following week under the heading.

Then I break each of these tasks into smaller pieces where I can. (Tests&essays are already planned for, using the study time planner I posted last week.)

Then I categorise each task as one of the following 4 categories:

1. Urgent and important
2. Important but not urgent
3. Urgent but not important
4. Not urgent and not important.

IMPORTANT task is something that has to be done. There are consequences if it isn’t done.

URGENT task has a deadline, and can’t be caught up with once the deadline has passed.

I made the following sets of questions to aid in categorising the tasks.

So from my example:

  • my philosophy essay is due on Monday; therefore it is urgent. If I don’t hand this essay in, I may fail my course; therefore it is important.
  • My mom’s birthday is soon, so I want to send her a card. This task is important, but not urgent; I can send it anytime, as long as she gets it before her birthday.
  • My dancing class is urgent; if I miss this practice session I can’t catch up later, since they move on anyway in the next session. But since I’m admittedly not committed to dancing, missing the lesson will not have huge consequences. It is technically not important.
  • My friends and I want to have a movie night sometime. This task is not important - it has no serious consequences attached to it even if it doesn’t happen. It is not urgent - we can throw it anytime we want.

I write the category number next to the task.

Once I am done categorising, I copy the tasks onto the following template:

Like this!

(If you guys want the time-square template, it can be found here, or here.)

2ND RULE: Task Decides Time

What I do next is assign X-amount of hours to each task. The number of hours I assign to each task depends on its category!

  • The minimum ratio that I have set between the number of hours assigned to the 4 categories is 4:2:2:1. 
  • i.e. Category 1 tasks must take up AT LEAST twice as many hours as category 2 or 3 tasks, and AT LEAST quadruple the amount of hours for category 4 tasks.
  • This ratio, of course, varies from week to week. But as long as the ratio is bigger than 4:2:2:1, I’m happy.

This week being a test week and all, there is a lot of work to be done so category 1 is pretty full. (plus the birthday party contributed significantly to category 3)

Next step is to divide these hours over the days of the week. Obviously I have to put the deadlines into consideration, and my set schedules (like lectures).

  • I assign a task/part of task to each day, and a number of hours to spend on that task. 
  • I don’t, however, specify the time. 
  • I personally find that time-specific schedulers don’t work for me, simply because of the fact that I suck at sticking to the times. It means that if I don’t finish your task by the set time (eg. study maths at 11:00am), that task is left hanging because I have to move onto the next task for the next hour (write essay at 12:00pm). This creates a build-up of incomplete work and is simply NOT efficient. That’s why I don’t use them. 
  • Everyday I keep my list of tasks in my head, and complete them one by one whenever I have the time. 
  • The goal is to get all of the tasks done before I go to bed.
  • Unless there is a time constraint attached (eg. meetings, or closing times for shops), whether I complete the task (especially studying) during lunchtime or before I go to bed doesn’t matter too much.

I draw a weekly planner into my bullet journal page.

Then I divide the tasks among the days!

I then transfer these tasks onto my daily bullet journal pages throughout the week.

3RD RULE: Leave Room For Compromise

I’m only human. I always end up doing something wrong and leaving some tasks incomplete during the week.

To compensate for this, I do 2 things:

  • 1. Abandon low-priority tasks

If I had category 1 and category 4 tasks left incomplete for example, and I simply had no time to do both things, I’d give up the category 4 task and give my undivided attention to the high-priority task! I have to know what I need to sacrifice for the greater good.

  • 2. Integrate “catch-up time” into your plan

Sometimes you can’t give up any of the tasks. CRISIS! To prevent situations like this, you should plan some “free time” into your week so that you can use them to catch up with things you are behind with. So my plan should technically never look full.

This has been another long post… 

I hope you guys foundd this post helpful! Inbox me if you have any questions :)


Benefits of Planning Meals Ahead of Time

It’s that one piece of advice that you’ve always intended to take up but never have. The question is why? Do we not have enough time in the hustle and bustle of every day life? Are we too taken aback by the vast array of different cheeseburgers we could potentially be shoving down our gullets? Is there really any reason at all we avoid planning our meals? Read on to find out the benefits of planning meals ahead of time and how it can help you adjust to an all round healthier life style!

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I finally got around to making a studyblr after a week of slowly purchasing new school supplies and creating a study schedule.

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