A Non-Conformist’s Guide To Keeping a Bullet Journal

Bullet journal task icon image
Bullet journal task identifiers

I recently discovered bullet journaling.

If you don’t know what bullet journaling is, Google “bullet journal” and the results will bring you images of unbelievably beautiful examples of what many bullet journalers have achieved. You’ll spend many hours drooling over the calendar layouts and the awesomely artistic talent boasted by those who have made bullet journaling a fine art and why not? Anyone responsible for bringing such creative beauty to their organizational skills is going to show it off.

And then there’s me…the person whose attempts at creating anything halfway decent in my Leuchtturm 1917 {which I specifically asked for so I could “officially” start my foray into bullet journaling} fell way short of “artistic” and “beautiful”. I can’t draw to save my life. My doodle skills are limited to infinite “loops” or “scribbledy-scratch” on whatever happens to be around when I’m talking on the phone. I searched for a 6″ ruler just so that I could make those wonderfully straight lines for my calendar layouts and as I was busy doing this, all I kept thinking was why?

Before I go on, I want to say that this is not a negative post, knocking those who keep bullet journals. I think that bullet journaling is an awesome method of keeping track of things, but no matter how awesome I think it is, I’m sad to say that I still suck at it. I’m writing this post to encourage those who feel less than confident about their journal layouts. When I look through Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration, I greatly admire the talent of the people sharing their work. Anything enjoyable that makes life easier is worthwhile…and I shall gratefully continue to look to these wonderful people for ideas.

For me, bullet journals are a great idea, but not in all aspects and that’s okay. The idea of having to regularly draw calendars doesn’t appeal to me because I rely on my phone and all of its features to keep track of the family’s schedule. I would rather use a bullet journal for other things, such as habit-tracking, recording goals, to-do lists, ideas, things I want to remember, etc. The beauty of bullet journaling is that anyone can customize its features and create a unique brand of journaling. Although calendar layouts are a popular feature of bullet journals, the “non-conformist me” says that they don’t have to be featured in mine. I plan to create my version of journaling that is most likely to be minimalist until I find what works for me; the fancy-schmancy stuff may or may not come later. Establishing a habit is an important part of this, as is a lot of practice.

If, after reading this, you’re daunted by the idea of starting your own bullet journal, please keep these important points in mind:

  • You don’t need any “special” equipment to keep a bullet journal. Leuchtturm journals are recommended because they’re “bullet journal friendly” {including index pages, lined pages, and archive stickers}, but any notebook or journal will do.
  • No bullet journal feature is mandatory, regardless of how many journalers use it. If you don’t want to include something in your journal, don’t. Many of the popular features don’t work for everyone. It’s probably best to stay with what you already know works well.
  • Before you start your journal, decide what you want from it and embrace what that might be, even if it isn’t “the norm”.
  • Artistic talent isn’t necessary. If you want fancy lettering or drawings, you can use stencils but if you find yourself losing sight of why you’re journaling because you’re too worried about what it looks like, it won’t work for you.
  • Bullet journals can have just about any theme ~ self-care, habit-forming/breaking, brainstorming ideas, to-do lists, schedules, house inventory, books you’ve read or on your to-read list, movies you’ve watched or want to watch, inspirational quotes, gratitude, goal tracking, financial tracking, etc., etc.
  • If you’re on Pinterest or Instagram, follow fellow bullet journalers for ideas but don’t be tempted to compare your journal to anyone else’s. Remember why you’re there ~ for ideas/inspiration. That’s all.
  • Be proud of your journal, whatever it contains or looks like. The most important thing is that it’s a useful tool for you.
  • Give yourself time to practice and form a habit of using your bullet journal. It’s not an overnight process; it takes some time to perfect and figure out what works for YOU. Don’t stop before you give it a chance to evolve into something useful.
  • Don’t feel like you need to share your layouts with anyone before you’re ready…or ever, if you don’t feel like doing so.

I may share some of my pages at some point to show you how my journal evolves as I go along. I invite you to tell me about your experiences and share your pages with me. Did you find it difficult to get into bullet journaling? Which aspect of journaling do you enjoy/hate the most? Which groups or resources do you find most helpful?

Until next time…

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