My unsuccessful attempt to organize my life

My inability to bullet-journal perfectly sums up how I want to plan my life


Hanna Preston is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. 

Riley Walsh | Cavalier Daily

I have a habit. It’s not necessarily a bad habit — if you don’t count the occasional blow to my bank account — though it’s not entirely productive. I start bullet journals without ever finishing them. I try so hard to keep my life in check, but it ultimately never works out.

Bullet journaling is a specific style of keeping a journal that involves templates and logs and a lot of organization. If you search “bullet journal” on Pinterest, you’ll see hundreds of images of Moleskin journals with dotted grids, pages covered in colorful script, collages, calendars and aesthetically-pleasing doodles and layouts. 

According to the official Bullet Journal Method website, bullet journaling is “best described as a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system,” and its purpose is “to help its practitioners … live intentional lives, ones that are productive and meaningful.” 

This all sounded good enough to me — possibly even life-changing. I have always been a  relatively unorganized person, and I wanted to change that. The pictures of pretty bullet journals I had seen during my high school Pinterest addiction consumed my feed. My mom even tried it — she is now an avid fan of bullet journaling. So I thought if it was working so well for everyone else, I should give it a try. 

I bought my first journal sophomore year of high school, along with a plethora of colorful pens and markers. I spent an excessive amount of time trying to figure out how to write in those swirly, flowery fonts that everyone else used. I made lists and goals, workout plans, meal ideas, wishes and reflections. I placed a single sticker of an airplane on the cover of the book. I thought my journal was perfect.

I used that journal for about three months, and then, it ended up in the middle of a stack of other books on my desk. There was no particular event that caused me to stop. I had just gotten busy, and it was no longer a priority. A few months later, while attempting to clean out my desk, I found the journal and was a bit upset with myself. I really wanted to be organized at one point. And thus began the habit I affectionately call “the continuous, unsuccessful attempt to organize my life.” Basically, after a few months at a time, I try to bullet journal again and get organized, only to inevitably drop the activity. 

When I pick up bullet journaling again, it usually comes with some change in my routine — starting a new school year, getting a new job, finals season or just a change in the way I think about myself. I always feel like I need to start journaling again in order to handle these new life changes. This would explain the stack of roughly nine journals sitting on my desk at home, not including the one I’m currently trying to work on — it’s sitting to the left of my computer as I type.

I started this current attempt while I was home for spring break. I thought that if I could just stick with this journal through the end of the semester, then I’d be able to stick with it until I used up all 180 pages. I lasted exactly three weeks. It went into a drawer one night, up until a few days ago, when I realized I had forgotten about it. This led me to wonder about my inability to stick with planning my life. 

Was there something wrong with me? I came to the conclusion that, no, nothing was wrong with me. I’m just an inherently unorganized person, both when it comes to practicality and how I live. I don’t like to plan, no matter how hard I try to. I live for the spontaneity that comes with meeting new people and trying new things. It excites me. Writing down a plan for the future stresses me out and takes the fun out of life. 

Bullet journaling is not a waste of time for those who actually benefit from it. However, my stack of unfinished journals allows me to reflect on my life rather than just stay productive. I can see when I began a new one and remind myself of the milestones that caused me to return to bullet journaling.

I can go on for hours about all of the things in my life that suddenly took a turn. I planned to go to college in the Northeast, but here I am in Virginia. I wanted to go to medical school, and now I’m planning to be an English major. Looking at my stack of journals reminds me of all the changes I’ve made in my life. I can reflect on the unexpected and look forward to the next unraveling of my latest journal.

Hanna Preston is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at 

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