How to Use a Bullet Journal to get Organized for Back-to-School

Whether you can’t wait get back to campus or you’re in denial trying to savour the last few weeks of vacation, the reality is that back-to-school is just around the corner and the fall semester will be here before you know it. If you haven’t jumped on the bullet journaling trend yet, there’s no better time to start. The bullet journal – affectionately nicknamed ‘BuJo’ by devoted fans all over the world – is a planner system that was coined and popularized by American digital product designer Ryder Carroll.

Unlike traditional planners that come filled with colourful calendar templates, sections to record contacts and to-do lists ready to be completed, the bullet journal begins with a blank ruled or grid-dotted note book. This allows for ultimate customization, as the only limitation to what you can track, organize and plan is your own creativity (or the plethora of Pinterest boards dedicated to sharing the most helpful bullet journal templates).

In its simplest form, the bullet journal system is just a set of symbols that dictate which tasks you have on the go, when you hope to accomplish them by, their priority etc. You can read more about the traditional set of symbols, and how to set up some of the most basic templates (monthly calendar, weekly spread) here. However, as bullet journaling has exploded on college campuses and across professional spaces, it has evolved into something of an art form, with trackers and templates that are as beautiful as they are ingenious.

While the possibilities are truly endless, we’ve compiled some our favourite bullet journal ideas for students to ensure you start off the semester on the right foot. Check them out below!

  • Habit Tracker: They say it takes about 21 days to form a new habit. Tracking the things you want to get into the habit of doing everyday (think: flossing, going to the gym, journaling, or getting a full 8 hours of sleep) can be a great source of motivation, and can also help you to identify patterns of when and where you’re slipping up. Check out a stylish yet functional example here.
  • Meal Planning: One thing students living away from home struggle with notoriously is putting together tasty, nutritious meals for one with a limited grocery budget. Planning your meals ahead of time in your bullet journal and creating a shopping list as you go can save you both time and money. An added bonus is that writing down what you plan on eating can help you to hold yourself accountable and make healthier choices! Click here for a meal planning spread that has you covered from the grocery store to the table.
  • Books to Read: This popular template is perfect for all the bookworms out there. With all the dense textbook readings that professors assign, it can be hard to find the time to unwind and lose yourself in a novel for pleasure. This unique template involves drawing or printing out a book shelf, and then writing the titles of various books you’d like to read on the blank books that line the shelves. Each time you finish a book, colour it in. See what all the hype is about here.
  • Study Timetable: This spread is a necessity for exam season! It’s relatively simple to set up, just block out your time hour by hour for each day. Assign a different colour for each course you need to study for, and colour in the blocks to denote how much time you’ll spend working at each subject. Organizing your study time visually is a great way to keep on top of things and make sure you’re still fitting in breaks for mindfulness and stress relief. Click here for a simple example.
  • Goals for the semester: With all these trackers, it’s important to remind yourself what it is that you’re actually working towards. Many bullet journals begin with some broad annual goals, that you can later choose to break down into smaller steps each semester, month, or week. It could be useful to set some goals for yourself right as school begins. Your goals can be anything – academic, social, or health-related – but writing them down is important and will help you to stay focused when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Check out a particularly creative spread here that lays out goals for the year in a beautiful, artistic way.


This list is just the beginning when it comes to bullet journaling! All you need to get started is a notebook, some coloured pencils, and your imagination. The upcoming semester is a new beginning and there’s no limit to what you can accomplish when you set yourself up for success.

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