With the holiday season upon us, many of us are planning for year-end festivities and for the new year. Among those of us planning the months ahead is Carrie Walker, a Virginia-based university student and journal creator. With over 128k TikTok followers and more than 20k subscribers on YouTube, Carrie is used to sharing her journal with a large audience, so we thought she be the perfect creator to offer some tips for year-end planning.
Here's our conversation with Carrie:
For our readers who haven't seen your social media pages yet, can you tell us about your passion for journaling? When did you get started?
Journaling has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I first started writing in a journal at the age of six, and my obsession has only grown stronger in the past thirteen years of writing! I started writing more frequently in middle school, and then I began daily journaling on January 1st, 2017.
That means that I’ve been writing every single day for almost five years now! I make YouTube videos on my channel (Carrie Walker) about my experiences with journaling, and I teach others about how they can implement the habit into their life. I also make other fun YouTube videos about college and my life as well!
This past March, I broadened my journaling journey by picking up bullet journaling, which I also make YouTube videos about. I have a TikTok account (@carrie.walker) where I make a lot of different bullet journaling videos, and I sell digital PDFs for others to print out and use for themselves on my Etsy shop (ShopCarrieWalker!).
Journaling is an outlet for me to reflect on my life, document important memories, process my feelings, and hold myself accountable, whereas bullet journaling is a creative and fun way that I can organize and keep track of the habits in my life. Both help me work towards improving my mental health and maintaining a balanced life (to the best of my ability!).
How would you say your journal has impacted your studies as a college student? Do you consider your journal a tool for organisation, for creative expression, or rather for clearing your mind?
All of the above! As a busy college student, journaling helps me organize my thoughts in a place where I can freely express myself and clear my mind. I see my journal as the ultimate place for self care and self improvement. One of the things I love most about journaling is that it can be used in a multitude of different ways, which I have some videos about on my channel.
Bullet journaling, for example, is one of the more creative ways that you can journal, and there’s many different ways to go about that as well! I use my bullet journal as a way to track my healthy habits (such as the amount of water I drink, hours of sleep I get, my mood for the day, if I do my skin care or exercise, etc.).
When things get really busy during college, bullet journaling helps me be mindful of whether or not I’m keeping up with my self care because it provides me with a visual of what I might need to improve on for the next month. I try not to stress too much about it because I’m a huge advocate for giving yourself grace and forgiveness (otherwise I’d stress myself to the ground!), but it serves as a good reminder of what I could work on and what I should try to prioritize. Baby steps go a long way!
Being a workaholic, I often push off my self care time, so my journal and bullet journal are perfect ways to hold myself accountable during the busyness of college! They help me ensure that I take time for myself in a way that I look forward to and enjoy. I always try to remember that taking breaks and focusing on self care IS productive!
We've seen some images of your journals, and it looks like you've amassed a great collection! You've also shared your stunning stationery collection. Would you say that you've always been this passionate about stationery or is this something that you've become more interested in over time?
Ever since I was really little, the first place I’d go to in the store was the stationery section so that I could look at all of the pens and journals. However, my stationery collection has grown a ton this past year once I started bullet journaling.
When I write in my journal, I mainly use just a black pen… although, I definitely love incorporating fun colors and doodles in my writing as well. Before I started bullet journaling, though, I never really had that much of an excuse to buy all of the colorful markers and brush pens, etc. However, my stationery collection has definitely grown quite a bit now that I have bullet journaling to blame!
It’s an addiction... I try my hardest not to buy twelve journals or more pens every time I go to the store. But I always say: if I’m going to be addicted to something, I’m glad it’s to something like journals and stationery!
On the topic of journals, you often create themed spreads. Where do you find ideas for the themes you incorporate into your journal each month?
Every month in my bullet journal, I have a theme for all of my spreads. Some of the themes I’ve done so far are: technology (March), mandala (May), princess (August), and coffee (November).
So first, let me break it down! These are the spreads that I do every month in my bullet journal:
- Quote page (that fits the theme)
- Cover page (with the month… i.e. November)
- Calendar (this takes up two pages... I like writing big events that happened each day, and I use an online calendar to plan my busy life since things are always changing)
- Habit tracker (six different habits that I keep track of throughout the month)
- Mood tracker
- Water tracker
- Sleep tracker
I always do those same spreads every month because that’s what works for me, but I’m thinking about exploring new spreads too -- like a finance tracker, daily gratitude log, and week layouts.
Anyway! To answer the question, Pinterest is my go to for finding ideas for my bullet journal themes. I search things like “November bullet journal spreads” and then once I find an idea that I like (i.e. coffee), I’ll search more specific things like “coffee bullet journal ideas”. From there, I go down the Pinterest rabbit hole! I like to use those spreads as inspiration, and I love trying to come up with my own original ideas as well!
With the holiday season upon us, can you share your themed spreads for December?
Yes! I just released my December bullet journal spreads, and I decided that it’s theme would be holiday! Think things like… candy canes, lights, and more! I have a video of me setting up the December spreads on my YouTube channel, and you can get your own spreads on my Etsy shop for only five dollars! I'll be posting videos/pictures on my TikTok and Instagram throughout the month as well, and I can't wait to fill out these spreads with everyone!
As a college student and a YouTuber, you've probably got a pretty busy schedule! Can you share how you're planning on staying organized during the holidays and in the weeks leading up to the new year?
As I mentioned in a previous question, I use an online planning system to organize my busy schedule since things are always changing! I know there’s a lot of different websites and planning softwares out there, but one of the things that I’ve fallen in love with is… Google Docs. It sounds crazy, but bear with me!
I basically make a table in a Google document, and I make it look like a calendar (it has seven columns for every day of the week, and it has a row for every week of the month). I love this method because it gives me a really quick and easy overview visual of my month ahead, and I can use different font colors and highlight important things I don’t want to forget.
Color coding is KEY for staying on top of things for me! I have all of my college classes, exams, extracurriculars, and due dates written down in their designated color and time, I have a specific color that I use for filming, editing, and uploading YouTube videos, and anything that’s super important gets highlighted in yellow. It’s so easy and customizable, and it’s extremely forgiving when plans change. I basically just have one huge document filled with my months of planning.
I always make the two months ahead too so that I can be on top of everything. Even though it’s November, I’ve been adding things into my December and January calendars so that I’m prepared for what’s to come. The new year is a busy time for me because I try to make a lot of journaling content since lots of people are making resolutions around journaling!
And as if that isn’t enough, I also make daily to-do lists of everything I need to get done. When I have a really busy day, I love time blocking so that I can avoid procrastinating. I’ll basically just plan out all of my tasks and the exact times that I want to work on them during the day (and I include break times and food/snack breaks!).
Planning is the main way I can stay so organized, but, once again, giving myself grace and forgiveness when things don’t go as planned is ultimately how I stay (somewhat) sane.
Finally, for anyone who is planning on starting a journal during the holidays (or perhaps in the new year), how do you recommend they get started?
I have tons of videos on my channel about how to start journaling, journaling prompt ideas, the different ways to journal, bullet journaling ideas, how to make a habit out of daily journaling, etc. Definitely check those out because I go way more in depth in the things you might want to know!
Something that might be super helpful in starting out is a daily journaling challenge that I did this past new year on my YouTube channel. It’s a playlist on my channel called “JOURNALING PROMPTS (31 day challenge!)” where I uploaded a video every day for the month of January!
I share a prompt for the day to write about, and then I include five minutes of unedited footage of me writing to that prompt so that you have a buddy to journal along with. Then, in the following video, I read my response to that prompt (with a picture of what my journal entry looks like) and share the new journaling prompt of the day! I highly recommend it if you want to make journaling a habit but don’t know what to write about or where to start.
Thanks to Carrie for these lovely answers. Check out Carrie's social media pages for more inspiration.