Can you tell us about how you became interested in journals? What sparked your interest in bullet journals, and how long have you kept a journal for?
I remember I was in high school on tumblr and discovered the aesthetic journal pictures, and soon after through instagram I learned what a bullet journal (bujo) was! I never had the confidence to start one myself because I wasn’t very good at art and had no idea about calligraphy, but after a year of following amazing bujograms, I decided I had to try! This is now officially my third year of bullet journaling.
You're a third-year med student, so you must be very busy! Can you tell us about how you stay organized?
I try to think about what aspects of my life stress me out the most or where I want to be the most efficient in. That mostly includes my academics, my mental health, and sometimes my physical health.
Planning these out keeps me aware of myself at all times and it’s such a relief to have scrambled thoughts laid out organized on a page! If you want to stay organized, I’d say the first step is writing it down. It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect like you see in Instagram pictures, but getting it on paper will help!
I think it's fair to say that many people use their journals as tools for managing their mental health. Would you say that using a journal helps you manage the stress that comes with being a student?
Yes, it definitely helps me manage stress! Having an outlet that I can lean on is so helpful during those rough days. Also having an outlook of how I want my days, months, and year going reduces a lot of anxiety. Tracking my mood and study hours keeps me aware and alerts me when I’m slacking or even doing well. Even making a bujo spread at times can be a nice break/stress relief activity!
Trackers are a tool that you use in your journal -- your Instagram followers regularly see trackers on your feed. How have trackers impacted your organization skills?
Trackers are amazing for my organization! Without them I’d be worrying about how I’m spending my time, and my brain would feel so scattered. Especially my study trackers, individually tracking the amount of hours I put into each subject brings so much light into whether I’m spending enough time on everything. I also don’t know what I’d do without my mini time trackers and to-do lists for my daily logs! Visually seeing everything on the page really helps me stay organized.
Are there go-to items you recommend for those starting a journal? Are there any essential stationery items that you can't go without?
I’d recommend a grid/dotted journal and a few black pens! That’s how I started out, before I started becoming a little creative with it. As for stationery supplies, I love the Tombow Fudenosuke hard tip pen, Sakura Pigma microns, and Zebra Mildliners!
On that same topic, are there any basic spreads or trackers which you suggest others use in their journal? Of course, this is a decision based on what fits your lifestyle and workload, but is there any particular spread or tracker that you've found especially useful?
For someone who becomes really lazy with longhand journaling, my combined mood tracker with one line a day has been really amazing to use! It takes less than two minutes to fill out, and you get to reflect on your day while tracking your mood.
Also in my weekly bujo spreads with the to-do lists, I started adding a color to each task in order of priority -- and that has helped me be so much more efficient! As an academic student, tracking my study hours according to subject has been so eye opening as well.
Sonia can be found on Instagram at @medstud.ies.