So, You Have Decided to Start a Bullet Journal – 7 Things Not to Do

Don’t look at all the amazing Instagram accounts 

I remember when I first decided to start a bullet journal. It was exciting and I wanted to know as much about it as I could and make sure I was doing it right. I googled, which lead to blogs, then Pinterest followed by Instagram… it was a deep, deep worm hole and by the time I emerged on the other side I was totally overwhelmed. I had no idea how to start or how to create such amazingly beautiful pages. I had no idea what to do first and it was almost enough to stop me before I had begun.  

Don’t do that to yourself. Sure, the amazing drawings and elaborate creations are nice to look at, but they are not the main part of bullet journaling, or even necessary. Do yourself a favour and look at this short video which shows you the original bullet journal method. Simple, minimalist and made to work for you. From there you can add whatever you want and get as creative as you want. The main thing is that it works for you. 

Don’t wait to start 

Another thing that stops people from starting their bullet journal is thinking they need to wait until the start of the year, or until they have everything worked out and know exactly what they are putting in there, for ever. 

No, don’t let yourself fall for this lie your mind is telling you. The beauty of bullet journaling is that it is whatever you want. If you want to start in the middle of the year, or even in the middle of a month, then go for it. If you want to just do monthlies, or dailies or lists or whatever for a while, go for it. If you want to only track stuff for a bit and not even do the planner part, who is stopping you. Jump in, do the parts you like and need, experiment with other stuff and just work it out as you go. That is half the fun of bullet journaling and what makes your journal uniquely yours. 

Don’t feel like you must share 

I know that a lot of people like to share their journal on Instagram and take amazing aesthetic pictures of the elaborate spreads, but don’t feel like you have to ever share if you don’t want to. Your journal is essentially the contents of your brain on paper. It can include some very personal and vulnerable thoughts sometimes and there is never a requirement for you to share it, either online or in person. 

Sharing spreads and getting and giving inspiration is a big part of the bullet journal community and is something I personally love (although I tend to share spreads before I have filled them in with my life events and thoughts) and if you enjoy it too, then go ahead and share whatever you like. But, if you don’t want to take part in that and you never want to share anything from your journal, then that is ok too. 

Don’t buy all the “important” supplies  

If you read my last post, you will know that I definitely did this one. I admit it, and I admit I kind of knew I didn’t need it all, but I am a stationary addict after all! 

When you start looking at other people’s bullet journal posts, read some blogs, maybe join a group on Facebook, you will see loads of recommendations for cool supplies and people talking about their favourites etc. It is all extremely exciting, and it is amazingly easy to get caught up in and end up ordering more and more until you are drowning in supplies, half of which you will never use. 

To begin with, all you really need is a notebook and a pen. You can make a fully functional journal with just those 2 things. I would suggest that a pencil, eraser and ruler are probably good to have to. Start with these basics and whatever you already have at home and try it out first. See how the basic system works for you, what things you want to add. Then you can decide what kind of journal you want to keep. Will you keep it minimal, draw amazing pictures, embellish with doodles, maybe stickers and washi are your style or perhaps it will be a combination of all these things. 

Then you can start to buy the supplies you will actually use and want and not end up with a stack of stuff you will never use. 

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else 

There is no right or wrong way to bullet journal. Your bullet journal should be whatever you need it to be as long as it works to help you improve your life. There is nothing that must be in your journal and there is no limit to what you can include. 

Start with the basics and work out what you need your journal to do for you. I remember thinking I had to have all the trackers and lists, the monthlies, weeklies, dailies and everything else you see all over the internet. That didn’t help me sort out my life though, it just created more things for me to do and became a chore that meant I didn’t really use my bullet journal. If you want or need to track your mood, then don’t put in a mood tracker, and that goes for everything else too. Make your bujo work for you, not the other way around. 

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes 

The pressure is on, pen is in hand, you are concentrating hard but oops, you made a mistake!! At this point many people will freak out and want to rip it out and start again. I urge you to resist that urge and breath. As I said above, your journal is your brain on paper, and I don’t know about you, but my thoughts are not neat and pretty all the time. Mistakes happen, they are part of the process and part of the journey of your journal. 

So, when the inevitable mistake happens, breath for a minute then look at it again. You might be able to turn it into a design feature, cover it with washi or a sticker, hide it with white gel pen or correction tape, and if all else fails, just embrace the mistake and move on. 

Don’t feel like you don’t have time 

This is something I hear a lot and even thought myself at the start. Looking at bullet journals that have been shared on the internet, it is easy to believe this is true, but remember your journal needs to work for you. If you are artistic and have hours to create elaborate aesthetic spreads then do it, but if you have 10 minutes to jot down a few notes, that’s ok too. 

I feel like sometimes the spreads you see out there in the community are more of a performance than a practice in improving one’s life. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you should never perform and create that beauty, but if it becomes all performance and no practicality, then you aren’t improving anything for yourself, you are creating another thing you must do. So, put in the amount of time you can practically spare, I am sure even you can find a few minutes while you drink your cuppa. 

DO START ONE PAGE AT A TIME 

This is the one most important piece of advice I think I can give you. If you are thinking about starting a bullet journal just pick up a pen or pencil and start your first page. Make it a simple one that won’t take too long and you will enjoy. Once the first page is done, the next one feels much easier, so do that next. One page at a time as you feel comfortable and adding what you feel you need, and you will be on your way in no time. 

Happy journaling 😊 

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