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In this episode, one woman shows us the bullet journal tactics she's used to get through the pandemic, and an all-around rough year.

Through weekly video essays, "Making It Work" showcases how *real* people have upgraded their personal or financial lives in some meaningful way. Making your life work for you doesn't mean getting rich just for the sake of it. It means making the most of what you have to build a life you love, both in your present and in your future. And while managing money is a crucial life skill for everyone, there's no one "right way" to go about it — you have to figure out what works best for *you,* full stop.

Based on an article by Ashley Corbett:

Video by Grace Lee

The Financial Diet site:

[CLICK] [PAPERS RUSTLING] You've likely heard of the concept of a bullet journal.

It's essentially an all-in-one planner where you keep everything you need to write down. So it's a journal, to-do list, sketchbook, et cetera, all in one.

You use a basic notebook and create your own layout. And there's a specific, but customizable, system to help you stay organized. I formed a dependent relationship with my bullet journal around the same time that quarantine began, when I was laid off from my job.

My sense of routine was stolen, and much of my life stability was gone in the span of a few weeks. It wasn't until that moment that I fully realized how much I count on structure. The morning after my layoff, I started using my journal to plan my every move for the day.

This included obvious daily tasks like taking a shower, making lunch, and washing dishes. For some reason, writing down those to-dos gave me the sense of clarity and purpose I needed to get out of bed that day. This has remained my main anti-anxiety coping mechanism throughout lockdown.

Whenever I felt myself spiraling with a panic, I opened my bullet journal. The binds of this black notebook are my safe space, where I have complete control. Not only can I track my tasks, I can also keep tabs on my moods, random ideas, goals, and literally anything else I'd like.

The fact that it is a completely customizable system is the main selling point for me. Here's how my bullet journal has helped me cope with anxiety throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and how you could benefit, too. Number 1, small wins.

I've been quoted as saying, did you even complete the task if you didn't cross it off your list? My obsession with lists is long-standing, as is my love of beautiful pens and notebooks. But the pandemic has made that appreciation evidently clearer.

For me, this habit really comes down to self-encouragement and motivation, and it serves a particular purpose right now. In a New York Times article about low-stakes productivity, Leah Fessler discusses how important it is to celebrate small wins during this challenging time. She writes, "This reality magnifies the importance of recognizing and briefly honoring the more mundane, but much more common, instances of progress among ourselves, our family and our colleagues." These days, I rely heavily on the self-made schedule in my bullet journal throughout my day.

Every Sunday evening, I map out my week. And then every morning, I like to write out my to-do tasks in detail, sometimes even including an amount of time next to the task. For those of us working from home, having a structured schedule can help separate work time from leisure time, especially if they're done in the same room.

And as someone who's now self-employed as a freelancer, this is a crucial part of staying organized and on task. Number 2, brain dump. The phrase, declutter your mind, may sound a bit lofty, but in my experience, it has merit.

The concept of a brain-dump page is simple. It's a place to jot down your thoughts so you can concentrate on the task at hand. This is really where the bullet journal melds its functions as a diary, planner, to-do list all in one.

You can use the brain-dump page as a complete jumble of wants and dreams, as well as things you need from the corner store. Then organize your thoughts on separate pages if you'd like. My mind is always running faster than it probably should be, and I find this activity especially useful for staying on task.

It keeps me from opening a million new tabs while working and from getting up from my seat every five minutes. Number 2, mood tracker. A mood tracker is kind of self-explanatory.

It's a page in your bullet journal which allows you to track when you're feeling happy, angry, sad, tired, and so on. Write down the days of the week and use a color-coded key of moods to fill in each day. So how can a mood tracker be useful?

Essentially, it can help you get in touch with certain triggers that might alter your mood. For example, you might notice that a particular kind of work makes you feel happy or that Zoom meetings make you feel very tired. I feel you.

This knowledge can make you more self-aware and give you the power to shape your days with a sense of control. For example, you can factor in time to unwind before and/or after triggering instances occur. Remember, creativity can be a coping mechanism.

During periods of mental health struggles, it can be helpful to channel your energy into creative pursuit. Studies show that artistic therapy is proven to reduce anxiety and depression. And if you don't prioritize much time for creativity in your daily life, a bullet journal is a simple and low-stakes way to introduce that practice.

Personally, I find it truly therapeutic on a Sunday to set my intentions for the week using a variety of colorful pens and highlighters and my little black bullet journal. Maybe you would, too. It's certainly worth a try.