By now, you’ve probably heard of bullet journals, or BuJos. We even posted this article about their use with dissertation work and academia from Inside Higher Education on our Facebook page. You’ve seen the extravagant Instagram set ups with the washi tape, collages, multicolored pens and markers – but the truth is, you don’t need any of that. All you need for a bullet journal is a notebook and a pen. That’s all. If you want to add color, drawings, pictures, or fun stickers or tape, by all means, go ahead. Make it your own. But at its bare bones, the only necessities are a notebook and pen.

So how does it help you? A BuJo can keep everything in one place: notes that occur to you in the middle of the day, brainstorming that happens while you’re at your child’s soccer game, research questions that arise as you’re reading a text, and any random inspiration or things you want to remember for your dissertation. You can add sticky notes and tabs for dividers – whatever you need. That’s the beauty of a BuJo.

If you need some guidance, check out the Bullet Journal website for a brief tutorial on the BuJo system here. Create an Index or table of contents, a symbol key for how you’re going to mark your work, and anything else you think you might need: a deadline timeline, research goals, your go-to journals or articles, a calendar of meetings, and so forth. Having these things easily accessible and in a visual format can help you to stay on track and make sure you meet your deadlines. Some people use monthly, weekly, and daily spreads; other people only use daily spreads. If you’re balancing work and school, or also have to keep track of your children’s schedules, a BuJo is a great place to keep everything in one place and color-coordinated. This way you can see when you can squeeze in a research session, library trip, or meeting with your Chair. Another thing that might be helpful to have in your academic BuJo is a section for questions for your advisor or research buddies – whether it’s about the formatting specifications of the school, or subject matter, or general questions you might have for your advisor. The trick is to find what works for your workflow and stick with it. You might also want to look at Pinterest here for some academic-specific BuJo inspiration.

So how can a paper planner help you? It can help with time management, improve productivity, reduce stress and anxiety, and help you remember things (you’re more likely to remember things if you write them down). If you’re a visual person, seeing a hard copy or diagram of obligations or deadlines can consolidate the information in your memory. If you have a paper planner, you never have to worry about it not being charged, having no Wifi, or having your hard drive erased. You can take a planner wherever you go and jot things down as they come to you. A BuJo contains everything in one place: brainstorming, scheduling, notes, and more. Think of it as a consolidated binder of sorts, but more streamlined.

Sometimes even an academic BuJo isn’t enough. If you’re having trouble developing a plan for your dissertation work, Dissertation Editor can help. We’ve been where you are and we know it can be overwhelming. Our dissertation coaches can help guide you in outlining a realistic plan to complete your dissertation work. We know that what works for one person might not work for another, and we will work alongside you to find what’s best for you. Contact us today to learn more!