I’ve been bullet journaling for about three years now. It started as a way to organize my life after graduating college, and grew into something so much more. It can take time to find a journaling style that suits you perfectly. Bullet journaling is beautifully flexible and, thanks to the internet, is constantly evolving. After a few years, I’m happy to say that I’ve found my own personal style. Here are a few things I learned along the way.
Mistakes are a part of bullet journaling
Getting used to a dot grid journal is hard. If you’re a bit of a perfectionist like me, it can be frustrating when you overshoot a box by one square, or draw a less-than-straight line. It happens to the best of us! Just do your best and, if you must, carry a small ruler at all times! Learning to cover up mistakes and work within the dot grid system is what helped me develop my personal style to begin with. If you make a mistake, don’t get frustrated and give up! Try to figure out how to work with the mistakes you make. It’s a lesson that’s applicable to more than just journaling.
It doesn’t have to look like something you saw on Instagram
Admittedly, my journal is pretty illustrated. But it hasn’t always been like that. Bullet journaling is a process and a journey. When you start out, it probably won’t look as pretty as you imagined. Don’t give up! Find a system that works for you and stick with it, whether it’s minimalist or over the top. The beauty of the system is the flexibility to work for anyone. Instagram can be intimidating at first, but remember it’s not a contest!
You don’t need to buy $100 in stationery to start out
I first started bullet journaling after reading a BuzzFeed article on the topic a few years back. For some reason, I convinced myself that I needed a $40 pack of Tombow brush pens and a $30 Leuchtturm to start out. I had absolutely no idea how to brush letter at the time but the article suggested the Tombows as “great for bullet journaling”, so I bit.
Naturally, I’ve bought a fair few items over time that I just don’t really use or need. I’m trying to get on the minimalism bandwagon a bit and take the “less is more” approach when it comes to bullet journaling supplies. If you opt for a decorated journal, it’s definitely nice to have some fun supplies around, but it doesn’t mean you need these items to journal. You don’t need to splurge either. To prove it, I even created a list of my favorite stationery items under $5.
Bullet Journaling is not about being productive all the time
When people see my bullet journal, they’re often confused. “I thought bullet journals were supposed to help you be more productive?” or “How do you spend that much time on one spread and still have time to do anything else?”
The bullet journal concept, at its core, was designed to help people be more productive. However, “productive” is a loaded word. Journaling is a massive part of my self-care routine every day. Having a space to draw and create (While still planning my tasks for the days and weeks ahead) has given me remarkable clarity of mind. If you want to spend an hour drawing intricate sunflowers while binging Game Of Thrones (like I might have done below), you do you! It might be part planner, part art journal, but it’s all there to make you feel better and more in control of your day!
If you’re planning on journaling daily, consider a collections journal.
Ashlyn wrote a great piece on the benefits of a collections journal a while back, but this is something I would strongly recommend for beginners. I fill up a journal about every 5-7 months, which means that any collections that I created in that journal need to be migrated over to a new book as well. After doing this three times, I got pretty tired of it. Enter the collections journal – a place to keep all of your running trackers and collections without having to migrate from book to book.
One final tip
If there’s one bit of advice I can give beginner bullet journalists, it’s don’t give up. Seriously. Just stick with it for a few months as much as you can, and figure out what works best for you.