A Beginner's Guide to the World of Bullet Journaling

If you’re on the internet, it’s likely you’ve seen something from a bullet journal. It has almost turned into a symbol of organization and having-your-life-togetherness; not only are you keeping a planner, tracker, journal, and others, but you’re creating the pages. I’ve always found them so satisfying to look at, but never quite believed that I could accomplish keeping one. I’ve spent years looking at them on Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube, but held off, saying one more year or when you’re a bit more organized. This past New Year, however, I realized it was now or never; I would never know if I could accomplish it if I never started it. I sat down, found one of the cheapest A5 dotted notebooks that amazon had to offer, and waited for my “life-changing” notebook to arrive in the mail.

An excruciating few days later I found myself sitting at my desk with my yellow notebook in hand basically shaking with excitement. The day I had been dreaming about for years was here! I took pen to paper, and this is where I learned one of the most valuable lessons of bullet journaling: You will not get everything right, and you have to let that go. To put it simply, my spreads weren’t perfect like I had imagined them to be; they were messy, full of mistakes, and generally unsatisfying. I considered ripping out the pages and starting again, but decided this was a lesson I needed to learn if I was going to keep doing this. It will sometimes bother me that my first page sticks together because I had to glue something down over one of my mistakes, or my yearly calendar is a bit crooked, but we all have to learn that these mistakes are part of the fun of creating things like this.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

I began using it, but I ran into a wall. I would be good and use it for a few weeks but if I forgot one day I would give up for weeks after. It’s similar to the idea of “I already ruined my diet by eating this cookie, so I might as well eat 5 more.” I have pages of empty calendars, full trackers but no weekly spreads, and complete months missing. Because of that, I had to do a complete restart of my journal this past July; I began to feel that excitement I had when I started. I changed how I did certain things in my journal, I’m trying new color schemes and pages to keep me interested, and I am making sure I sit down every night to fill it out. I took it on vacation, I fill it out in the day if I’m going to be out late, and even when I’ve lost track of time and it is 3 AM, I sit down and fill it out. A combination between interest and habit-formation keeps the excitement of journaling alive.

If it’s something that you’re attracted to, bullet journaling can be a rewarding addition to your life. If you’re a creative that lacks time, it gives you an outlet that you can feel guilt-free about. If you want to use planners but often find they aren’t set up how you need them to be, it gives you the freedom to customize how you use it. If you’re trying to form a habit, write your days down, keep your memories together, or just relax and give your brain a break, bullet journaling can give you that. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back from trying things you might enjoy. Live in the moment, try new things, and get bulleting.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

-Lillian