3 ways to use journaling to your advantage this semester

3 Ways To Use Journaling to Your Advantage This Semester

The hobby gained significant popularity during the pandemic. With the upcoming school year moving to in-person classes for most students, here are some reasons why you should start writing.
August 10, 2021
9 mins read

Another semester of school will begin in a few weeks. For most, it will be the first semester of in-person school in a year and a half. Anyone would feel anticipation for the bustle of a new semester, but the complete change of routine is bound to shake students up as it did when schools switched completely to online.

Many students resorted to journaling to learn how to better manage their time during the first abrupt change in routine. Years before the pandemic, however, the internet had grown to proudly love journaling. Creators now make YouTube channels solely for sharing their “journal-with-me” videos, and their content inspires audiences to do the same. They also show how one can now journal online with the help of apps like Notion. This is especially useful if individuals aren’t as fond of the traditional pen-and-paper method. Thanks to the internet, students can share and learn various journaling methods to improve time management and relieve stress.

1. Managing Time

Bullet journaling is an extremely organized and efficient method for time management and maintaining productivity. Ryder Carroll came up with the concept in 2013. Some key aspects of bullet journals include monthly spreads, weekly spreads and habit trackers. It is ultimately a glorified to-do list, but a whole journal designated for productivity can be a great motivator.

Carroll’s conceptualization of a bullet journal, however, is quite strict. For example, according to Carroll, a bullet journal should include signifiers, an index and a future log. They should also include what he calls “rapid logging,” which takes up 60% less of the page. But the way you formulate your bullet journal is really up to you. With that in mind, it becomes a lot easier to have fun organizing your life while decorating the pages displaying your tasks.

YouTuber AmandaRachLee cleverly demonstrates the many uses of a bullet journal, specifically how to merge your creative and professional lives. Her videos focus on how to make something that manages your time, increases productivity and is fun to look at. Creators such as Lee often incorporate themes into their monthly journal-with-me videos, in which they set up their bullet journal for the month ahead. For example, Lee incorporated inspiration from Olivia Rodrigo’s “SOUR” album aesthetic into the pages of her August 2021 bullet journal spread.

As silly as it may seem, making your bullet journal visually appealing makes your tasks easier to digest. Setting aside various pages for each month and week so you can see your tasks broken up over multiple days may also make it easier to digest your busy days. You can even plan your days by the hour if you like. Also, it’s more fun to physically tick off the boxes on the page when you complete a hard task.

Bullet journaling is a great management method and can be as simple or complex as one wants it to be. Thus, it’s especially great for students to rely on when juggling the start of a new semester.

2. Journaling as a Creative Outlet

If you’re a student who needs a creative outlet for all the ideas running around your head, journals are also great for art and creative writing. Some students are naturally creative people who don’t major in a creative subject and thus have a hard time getting it out. Since school takes up so much time, it may be hard to justify spending a lot of time on a hobby. An art or writing journal makes it a lot easier and faster to get those ideas out of your head.

YouTuber Katherine Karas provides great examples of collage art journals. Karas uses many little pieces to tie her pages together, like cutouts of photos, scrap paper, glitter and stickers. Viewers can watch her process in her journal-with-me videos, or they can watch her flip through her completed journals in her yearly journal flip-throughs.

Additionally, journals are great for writing poetry, short stories or mapping out the pieces to a larger story. Constantly looking at a computer screen can get straining sometimes, so it’s helpful to remember the pen-and-paper method of writing exists, too. Avoiding technology to do something you enjoy can be extremely therapeutic, especially amid all the stress of school.

3. Processing Life

Journaling is an incredibly useful self-care ritual because it allows for introspection and reflection. Reflective journaling is more akin to the typical diary, but it’s great for unclogging your brain from unnecessary thoughts. With the start of a new semester and a whole slew of new stressors to worry about, taking time to sort out your thoughts is crucial.

Some people like to journal every day as a part of their morning or night routines. Others prefer journaling whenever they have time or feel stressed. Everybody follows their own schedule; it’s up to you how often and how consistently you want to journal.


Mistyprose is a YouTuber who shares the journaling routine she created for the purpose of reflection. She sometimes even shares the journal entries themselves if she thinks they can be helpful for other people. Her journal entry videos include topics such as “I Got Rejected From Every College I Applied To,” “I Faked Being a Minimalist For a Year” and, most recently, “How I Stopped Envying the Life I Don’t Have.” All her entries exemplify the importance of introspection to growing as a person and learning to accept the route your life is taking — perfect for a student worried about the upcoming semester.

Journaling Online

If the pen-and-paper method of journaling isn’t for you, online options may help. The app Notion grew in popularity over the past few years for its ability to act like a bullet, art and reflective journal all in one space. The website displays the professional use of the app, but Notion tour videos are also becoming increasingly popular and showcase the various ways in which the app can be used.

Notion includes various templates so you can organize your life in whatever manner you choose. You can also create multiple pages in the app, so your topics won’t get mixed up. It’s also easy to decorate the pages to your liking and with whichever theme you choose to go with since you can import assets like photography files, GIF files and Spotify playlists.

On Zapier, Melanie Pinola identifies eight more journaling apps as the best of 2021. The list includes Five Minute Journal for beginners and Grid Diary for templated journaling. Pinola also details the reasons why the apps are so great for different peoples’ needs.


Journaling is a great, mindful way to increase productivity and motivation in students getting started with a new semester. Journaling may make your upcoming semester much easier if you decide to use it based on your wants and needs. A de-stressor and motivator all in one: What more could a student ask for?

Jayni Nielsen, Pace University

Writer Profile

Jayni Nielsen

Pace University
English Language & Literature

I am a student at Pace University’s New York City campus with a passion for all things concerning literature, psychology, art, nature and media.

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