Welcome to the Bullet Journal System!
New to this whole bullet journal thing? You might be wondering exactly how to start a bullet journal. Thankfully, it’s never been easier to get started and jump right in! You just walked into one of the coolest online communities with tons of inspiration, support, and creativity! There’s a place for everyone here – minimalist, artistic, messy, chaotic, plain – you name it, we’ve got it. Still, you might be feeling some minor trepidation about taking the plunge. Don’t worry, my friend, I’m here to walk you through whatever obstacle stands between you and rocking productivity. Because you are capable of being organized and you deserve to feel productive! So what’s stopping you?
Common Obstacles to Starting Now
Starting a bullet journal can be a bit nerve-wracking. It can feel overwhelming to completely transition to a new organization system. You might be hesitant to jump right into creating your bullet journal for a few reasons:
- It’s the middle of a month, quarter, or year and you feel as though you should start at a natural beginning point.
- You don’t have all the bullet journal supplies you need.
- You want to plan it out just right so your bullet journal looks perfect.
- You’re afraid to invest your time and effort into something that will likely fail.
There can be any number of reasons to freeze your pen over the paper, but these are the four worries I hear the most. Thankfully, there’s a fix for all four!
But It’s the Middle of the Month!
If you have just discovered the amazing bullet journal system, you might have lots of ideas popping into your head on how to set yours up. That’s fantastic! But you might think “I’ll wait until the new month rolls over to implement these” or “January is the only time to start this right.” And then you wait for the perfect moment to start your bullet journal.
This is where I tell you to stop procrastinating. Because that’s all you’re doing by waiting. You are nervous and justifying your procrastination with a shiny excuse. But the secret for how to start a bullet journal is to just start. The only perfect time to begin is right now.
If you’re worried that you won’t be able to draw up all your neat ideas because you are halfway through a month, don’t sweat it! You can totally have your cake and eat it too. Instead of drawing out a full 30 day tracker, you can simply shorten it down. That’s what I did for my January spread and it works perfectly. In fact, I managed to comfortably fit my habit tracker, gratitude log, and memories page all into a single spread – and make it look good, too!
I Don’t Have the Right Bullet Journal Supplies
When you’re looking up how to start a bullet journal, you should see everyone agree that you only need a journal and a pen to begin. You might see other bullet journalists using all kinds of fancy pens, washi tape, and other knick-knacks to dress up their bullet journals. I know I’m guilty of that! But don’t confuse our extra supplies as necessities. You can use any basic notebook to get started and have a fantastic bullet journal.
One caveat that I might add is that sometimes, better supplies can lead to a better system. At least, it did for me. I started my first bullet journal in a cheap Ecosystem journal. But I didn’t hit my real stride until I splurged on a Leuchtturm1917. Having a better quality journal led to a huge jump in my productivity and satisfaction because it felt like a treat. Planning didn’t feel like a chore anymore.
So my only suggestion on the supplies front is this: ignore all the other extras like tape and highlighters right at the beginning and just find a good notebook. If you love your journal, the rest will fall into place. Everything else can be easily exchanged as you progress, so don’t stress about pens and the like. If you’re looking for some major stationery inspiration, head over to my bullet journal supplies page to see all the stuff I use!
I Want My Bullet Journal to Look Perfect
I know so many people who have struggled with this obstacle. They practice all their spreads and layouts in a separate notebook before they put them in their official bullet journal because they are afraid of screwing it up. This method is time-consuming and completely unnecessary. Because if you are constantly comparing yourself to others, your bullet journal will always fall flat. I’m pretty experienced and I still look longingly at other people’s gorgeous styles because I can’t quite match it. The only way to fix this, of course, is to simply come up with your own style.
Plenty of people look at my bullet journal and think that I just started out this way. The truth is, my particular style took years to manifest. I have been using the bullet journal for more than two years, and the first few months are nothing like my current bullet journal. Don’t believe me? Here are some examples from 2014 (despite my typo saying 2015).
The way I went from that to my current style was to keep trying new things. Experimenting with new supplies inspired me. I developed an interest in brush lettering, and I eventually branched into using watercolors and stickers. Your bullet journal will look better the more that you use it – so waiting until you’ve perfected everything will be the slowest and least effective method. If perfectionism is an obstacle for you, I want you to read this post and repeat this phrase: Done Not Perfect.
Fear of Failing
If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried several other organization systems before only to have them fail miserably. I feel ya. It’s frustrating. That’s why I was so skeptical of the bullet journal system. It excited me, but I knew deep down that I would fail at it like all the rest before. So I didn’t jump in wholeheartedly – I dipped my toes and eased into it. If you want to do this, I completely understand. You can only get your heart broken by so many organization systems. But the bullet journal truly is different, at least for me. And when I finally immersed myself into the system, I was rewarded.
That’s not to say that I’m a bullet journal saint. I’m constantly forgetting to fill in trackers, migrate responsibilities, or draw up new layouts. The only reason I have half of January set up is that I fell off the bullet journal wagon for about a month and it took me forever to get back into it. But that’s okay! The bullet journal is the kindest, most warm-hearted lover you’ve ever had. It will always forgive you and allow you to start again. It will always let you make mistakes and learn from them. So if you are fearing failure and using that as an excuse to not even begin, remember that it’s okay to mess up. You’re only a human being and you are learning. Forgive yourself and try again.
So What’s Stopping You?
Nothing, really. Unless you are currently waiting for your journal to ship from Amazon, you have no leg to stand on here. Starting a new bullet journal can be a scary thing because it means you are responsible. God knows being responsible is terrifying. But if you use your bullet journal just right and find the perfect way to adapt it to your life, you will find that responsibility can be really really fun. I promise. All you have to do is put your pen on the paper and begin.