If you’ve read my blog, or even followed me on Instagram, you’ll have noticed I have a well-documented love hate relationship with the Bullet Journal System.
I’m a chronic over-planner with perfectionist tendencies. In most aspects of my life, this is a positive. In Bullet Journaling, this is a curse. I talk about this more in my Why The Bullet Journal Didn’t Work For Me post but these are kind of my two main issues with using a Bullet Journal. I know that they are two issues that I can overcome though and now that my 2017 planner is coming to an end, and my Instagram and Pinterest feeds are full of pictures of Bullet Journal layouts, collections and spreads, I’ve decided to push back the fear and attempt the Bullet Journal one last time.
So, I dug out my old, barely used Moleskine journal that I used for attempt #1 and attempt #2 of Bullet Journaling, skipped past the pages of shame and then suddenly felt very, very overwhelmed. All the pictures you see on Instagram look so perfect, all the videos on YouTube make starting a Bullet Journal seem so easy and the multitude of blog posts I read all spoke about how easy it was but let me tell you, nothing about starting a Bullet Journal for the third time is easy.
So I did what I always do; grabbed my phone and reached out to you guys for some handy tips, helpful advice and a little bit of perspective. So, without further ado, here are some tips on starting a bullet journal from a range of bullet journal lovers:
- Our advice would be to just chill and take it easy. I think one can really feel overwhelmed especially if you’re not an artist. Start small and simple. – @thestudyingjulia
- My biggest tip is to only do what you want in your bullet journal. My bullet journal consists of to-do lists and I don’t worry about making cute spreads or decorating them because I know I won’t keep up with that. Do only what will help you. – @inezstudies
- Just start with the basics; index, future log, monthly and daily view & page numbers – titling. Try to see how these interact with each other in this basic level so you can modify it according to your needs. Never stick to an idea (layout, collections…) if it’s not working for you, try something else. And lastly, if it’s costing you more time than expected, don’t try to keep on decorating it. Oh and start with a cheap notebook for at least the idea testing! – @stationerysatellite
- Nothing needs to be perfect in it and don’t plan too far ahead. It’s supposed to be flexible as you go, so railroading your stuff for the next month restricts instead of helps in my honest opinion. I also skip the first few pages because I’m always afraid I’ll mess the up. – @thanksgreenberg
- I kinda keep the mindset that I don’t have to journal everyday unless I feel like it which makes it less stressful and more like a hobby. – @vicktoria_97
At the time of posting this, I’ve been officially Bullet Journaling again for two weeks and while the tips above were super helpful, there are some other things I’ve learnt from starting Bullet Journaling again that I think are also important to share:
- Figure out what’s most important for you and focus on that. For me, I realised there were only four really important things for me in regards to my Bullet Journal – the daily tasks, a way to track my anxiety, a habit tracker and somewhere to track my blog posts, so that’s all I put in my Bullet Journal for my first month. So far, it’s worked really well, I’ve been able to figure out a few things that work for me and a few things I want to change and I’ve not been overwhelmed with trying to do collections and fill pages for no reason.
- Don’t rely too heavily on inspiration from the internet. It’s overwhelming when you’re bombarded with heavily decorated, perfect spreads, don’t feel like you have to do any of that! You can do a simple to-do list and if that works for you, perfect!
- Use a spiral notebook. I’m currently using the end of my Moleskine and since it’s already half-used, battered and ruined, I don’t have too much fear when it comes to not doing a perfect spread but my next Bullet Journal will be a spiral bound dotted notebook. Why? Because you can rip pages out and it’s cheap! If you end up not sticking to the Bullet Journal thing, you can always reuse it for something else, too!
- Don’t invest too much money before you dedicated yourself to actually using your Bullet Journal long-term. Get a cheap notebook, whatever pens you have lying around and you’re good to go. You don’t want to waste an expensive Moleskine notebook for a few pages of Bullet Journaling, or brush pens that you use once before realise how much harder hand lettering is than the people on Instagram make it seem.
- Post it notes are important if you’re a pre-planner. My biggest issue with bullet journal is that I can’t plan months in advance but I have discovered a work around to this. Post it notes. All I do is stick a few in the cover of my journal and write down important dates, things I want to do or other important things that I can’t write in my Bullet Journal for the time being and when I can, I add them in! So simple!
Hopefully those tips help you as much as they helped me! If you have any other tips for new Bullet Journal enthusiasts, make sure you leave them in the comments below – the more help we can get, the better!