I write this article targeting anyone who is currently on the fence about beginning a bullet journal. Almost two years ago, I was toying with the idea of starting one, worried it would be too much work. When I did eventually begin my first journal, it was a disaster. It was incredibly disorganized and quite literally ugly. However, over the past two years, I have learned how to turn this activity that used to stress me out into an advantage for myself.
For those who don’t know, a bullet journal is a type of planner that you format yourself and create “spreads” to organize your day to day life. It typically goes month by month, and you can customize it however you’d like. People may customize theirs with drawings and calligraphy, or just keep it simple and minimalistic.
I will be the first to admit that I am a perfectionist and things will physically stress me out if they aren’t how I pictured them in my head. This especially applies to things I create such as my writing, makeup or the very little drawing that I do. For me, this was a giant roadblock when it came to starting my own bullet journal, as I always felt like my spreads were uncomfortable or inadequate. This feeling got so bad that after my first two months of trying, I ended up giving up.
I didn’t return to my journal until three months later and decided to give it another try. My failure happened once again; I got through two months, then decided I couldn’t keep up with it. I always felt full of shame after I gave up, mad at myself for not doing well enough in the first place and mad at myself for giving up trying.
And while I do find it to be a little embarrassing to talk about how many times I had given up this hobby, I feel that it is important to mention. It’s perfectly normal to be unsuccessful and go at it over and over again. I also need to realize that there would be no shame if I decided I needed to stop for a while in the future. Trial and error are a completely normal part of the process in helping yourself.
It took me about eight months, but I finally picked my journal back up again, with the intent to succeed. I had grown a lot in those eight months; I had been diagnosed with anxiety and taught myself different ways to grow and overcome my feelings of not being good enough. To begin my journal again in the month of January, I decided the theme of my entries should be something I was really passionate about and enjoyed. I chose Folklore by Taylore Swift as the inspiration.
I am happy to inform you that the month of January was much more successful for me and I was really proud of what I had accomplished. I’d discovered that the key to my success was explaining to myself that not everything had to be cookie-cutter perfect and that all bullet journals would look boring if they all looked the same. I had learned to embrace what my spreads looked like rather than criticize myself for a line not looking straight.
This solution sounds rather menial and cliche now that I say it out loud, but it’s important to understand that this was an incredibly difficult thing for me to accomplish. It took months of reiterating to myself that not everything I did had to be perfect, and that the only person I actually had to impress with my journal was myself.
Now well into my February entries, my journal brings me nothing but a sense of organization, which was my goal in the first place. I use this journal to keep track of my classes, homework, habits and important dates. I also adore my inspiration for this month, which was a little drawing I created titled “Bears in Love.”
So, if you’re currently on the fence about creating one, this is your sign to put your pen to paper and get it started. Please remember that you will improve as time goes on and at the end of the day, if you are happy with what you have created, that’s all the matters.
I wish you all the best of luck! Below I have included some links to YouTube videos that may help you begin this journey.
AmandaRachLees’s Channel: Includes tons of inspirational videos and tips on how to journal.
Bullet Journal with Me by AClockworkReader: I love to watch videos like these while I work on my own journal, it’s very soothing.
2021 Bullet Journal Setup by Oh No Nina: A more minimalist approach if that’s what you’re into
How I Started Journaling by BestMess: A sit down video on how to enjoy your journaling and not make it into a source of stress