Things That I’ve Learned After Bullet Journaling for a Year
You don’t have to have the popular journal
This one can be hard, especially for beginners. Personally, my first bullet journal was a black Moleskine with square pages. My second was the hardcover emerald Leuchtturm1917 dotted journal. Both fantastic options to use, but I’ve seen successful and beautiful bullet journals from your everyday notebook.
As a little tip if you’re new to bullet journaling, I would try it out for a month in a spare notebook you have laying around your house or buy one of those 50 cent notebooks from the drugstore. I wish I would’ve done this so that I could see if I liked the way I was using it, I wouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes, I could change the way I was doing things without a guilt feeling, and it was way cheaper.
It can be so time consuming
In the beginning, I didn’t really know what I was doing. The only source of reference I had was the few videos I watched on YouTube and a couple pictures I found on Pinterest. All of them had beautiful spreads full of color and little details. I, however, do not have an artistic bone in my body but love to try new things. This resulted in hours of sketching out doodles in my journal, counting squares to make sure everything was even, choosing colors that would match, and so on. While I have nothing against the super detailed Bullet Journal’s, they’re just not for me, especially when I’m at school and need to dedicated a lot of my time to my studies.
Embracing mistakes is a challenge
This was my worst nightmare and part of the reason my Moleskine is not completed. I hate making mistakes in my journals, which is part of the reason I began planning my spreads out before writing them in pen. While many bullet journaler’s say to embrace your mistakes and keep moving, or give you tips on how to fix them, I just didn’t like any type of mistake in mine. I tried covering the pages with printed pictures or plain colored papers, but the pages wouldn’t stay glued down or were too large to fit on the page.
Do I recommend trying to fix your mistakes? That depends. Recently, I’ve seen some people who don’t try and cover their mistakes or even correct them, and just continue on with their journal. I’ve also seen people who do a wonderful job at fixing their mistakes. So everything just depends on preference and the type of mistake.
It’s fun to see what you’ve tracked
I didn’t think I’d like the trackers. They were tedious to set up and I didn’t really know what I wanted to track in the beginning. However, when I began tracking things, it was actually really interesting. At first, I went crazy and tracked so many things that it was hectic and out of control, but once I condensed it to about 5-10 things it was more manageable. It can be really interesting if you’re honest with yourself, notably if this is your first time tracking habits.
The things I would track include:
- Going to the gym
- Drinking the amount of water recommended
- Eating at least one healthy meal
- Making my bed
You can actually use it to journal
At first, I strictly used it as a planner of sorts. But one day, I was having such a horrible and emotional day, that I took my journal out and just wrote down my feelings like I would do in any kind of diary or journal I had in the past. Looking back, I wish I would’ve actually journaled out any kinds of feelings or ideas in my journals because that’s what makes them personal and sentimental. That’s the reason why I’d keep them after I’ve filled them up and move onto the next one.
After research, I’ve found people ‘journal’ in different ways. Some people dedicated a page or spread to add memories for the month. Some people keep a gratitude log. Others actually just journal traditionally right on the next open page. I’ve seen people doodle a day or use journal prompts as a challenge to participate in. Whatever you choose to do, I highly suggest at least trying it out for a week or two, not only does it go with the ‘journaling’ aspect of a ‘Bullet Journal’, but it’s a great way to add personality to your journal.
Use social media for inspiration
Inspiration is the key word here. Yes, copying someone’s beautiful spread down into your journal so it looks fantastic is great and yes I’m guilty of doing it too. But, you’ll never learn what works for you if you don’t try other things instead of just copying everything you see. Also, don’t be afraid to search up exactly what you’re looking for. More often than not, you might find just what you were looking for, or something really close.
I tend to find really good inspiration on Pinterest, Tumblr, and YouTube. There are tons of people to follow on every platform that will fit your style of journaling or just give you a new idea to try. I have a post with YouTube channels that I usually go to when looking for ideas or just beautiful journals.
It’s okay if you don’t use every spread or layout recommended
I will tell you right now I do not use every spread or layout that everyone else has in almost every bullet journal. I tried them all in my first bullet journal, but the ones that didn’t work for me, I just never used again and moved on. Maybe someday I’ll go back and try again, but for now I know what spreads work for me.
Trial and error are normal
This one point applies to all other points that I’ve made here. Unless you’ve done this before or planned it out intensely, you are going to be trying and making mistakes in your journal. Heck, I’ve seen people I would say are ‘professionals’ make mistakes or try new things time and again. Personally, I think part of the whole system is to make mistakes and try new things. While this can be intimidating to people, notably those who do not like change, it will help you find things you do and don’t like.
If you don’t want to make the mistake in your own journal, I would say to either look up your idea on social media or try it out on scratch paper before doing it in your own journal.
This is supposed to be for you, so make it and use it how you want to
Ryder Carroll, the creator of the Bullet Journaling system, does not journal like many people we see in the community. His is probably the most minimalist and simple journal I’ve seen. But, people liked his idea so much, they’ve adapted and changed it to fit them and their styles that now most of them are super detailed, colorful, and more complex. While there’s nothing wrong with this, because that’s what makes the journal their own, I feel like people can get so wrapped up in this idea of perfection that they don’t enjoy journaling.
The journal is not for anyone but you, so use it how you want to use it. Do you like fifteen different colors in one spread or maybe two matching colors? Do you use a future log or do you just daily plan? Do you use recommended supplies or just what you can find in your backpack? It doesn’t matter how you answered this questions, as long as you’re doing what you need to do in your journal to make you happy and successful.