Hello Planning Mashers!
I’m here to help you out on your Bullet Journal adventures! Today we are talking about mistakes that might wait for you as you start your Bullet Journal and how to avoid them.
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So are you ready to join the Bullet Journal community and start planning? Yes? OMG this is so exciting! Welcome! This is great! and I love having you here!
Don’t worry, it seems a little bit too much now, but trust me it’s easy and quite fun! I too, remember myself and how overwhelmed I was at the beginning – so much information you just don’t know where to start. But in the end the system turned out to be something absolutely different from my first opinion!
I want to help you out, point you in the right direction and dissolve any misconceptions you might have about Bullet Journal. And I combined it all in my list of 11 things you need to know before starting a Bullet Journal.
Speaking of starting a Bullet Journal, if you haven’t started yours yet – check out my Free Course: Bullet Journal In 10 Days.
This course will walk you step-by-step through process of setting up your very first Bullet Journal and answer all your questions as beginner!
Now, before I go into my list, let me answer the most commonly asked question – what supplies do I need to start a Bullet Journal. All you really need is a notebook and a good pen. Literally – that’s it!
To pick the notebook check my post on how to choose a perfect notebook for your Bullet Journal. And if you feel like doing a bit more in your planner, check my list of essential supplies for your Bullet Journal.
If you’re thinking you might not have the budget to get ALL the supplies, don’t worry. You don’t need them all, plus there are amazing budget alternatives to everything.
We’ll talk about the stationery more a little bit later, don’t worry. Meanwhile, let’s dive into this list to get you all ready to start your own Bullet Journal.
Bullet Journal Is An Organizational System
I know the Internet is full of amazing Bullet Journal spreads and when I started I found it very confusing. I tried recreating all the million ideas I saw online and spent my time trying to be artistic and doing things that quite frankly, were a bit out of my boundaries.
As a result, I didn’t progress much on the productivity side of the system. That’s why I think it’s important for you to understand what is the purpose of it all, before starting your own journal.
“Bullet Journal® is actually a methodology. It’s best described as a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system. It’s designed to help you organize your what while you remain aware of your why. The goal of the Bullet Journal is to help its practitioners (bullet journalists) live intentional lives, ones that are productive and meaningful.”
I took the quote from the official Bullet Journal website. The first and foremost purpose of having a Bullet Journal is to organize your life and make sure you keep your eyes on your goals to help you live a more intentional life.
So start with that, start with the basics. If you want to add something else later – sure, but always remember the why. If you feel like you’re stirring away from it – just take a step back.
You Don’t Need To Be Artistic To Have A Bullet Journal
I know you’ve seen all those amazing spreads all over Instagram and Pinterest and probably (just like I did) you’re thinking Bullet Journal is something only artistic people do. This, fortunately, is not the case.
The purpose of the Bullet Journal is to plan and organize your life. And you don’t need artistic talent and elaborately decorated spreads for that.
So don’t worry about it! Stick to the basics and this should be enough to get what you want from your Bullet Journal. And then, one day, magic will happen.
The more you work on your Bullet Journal, the more experience you’ll get, and your spreads will improve more and more. And one day, you’ll contemplate a page you just finished, and you won’t believe how pretty it looks and above all, that you made it yourself. It’s such a wonderful feeling!
The important thing here is to first – remember why you have a Bullet Journal, and second – not to compare yourself to others. Looking at somebody’s 7th year of artistic Bullet Journal and comparing it to your first week is meaningless. Use their art and spreads as inspiration, but always remember you have your own path. Give yourself time.
You Don’t Need To Spend A Fortune For Bullet Journal Supplies
The market of Bullet Journal supplies is oversaturated with all the stationery supplies. You look at other bullet journalists’ stationery collections and it is kinda scary to think how much money all those goodies cost.
Well, the truth is – you don’t need to spend a fortune (unless you want to). Yes, you can always splurge a little bit more when you want, but it’s not really necessary.
Just check this post: 5 Essential Bullet Journal Supplies For Beginners.
Like I mentioned before, what you really need to start a Bullet Journal is a notebook and a pen. And if you want to start on a budget – there are great and much cheaper alternatives to all the expensive stationery!
And speaking of supplies, I have one more recommendation!
Start With Cheap Supplies
There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on the best pens and notebooks if you’ll end up not using them because they don’t fit your journaling style.
Like I did :(
So my personal tip would be to give it a try with some cheap supplies, and discover what is your style. Once you know this and want to take it to the next level – yeah, that’s the time to upgrade your gear.
This tip will save you lots of money (believe me I know….) also because after using your journal for some time, you will already have an idea on what exact supplies you’d like to have. Therefore you’ll be saved from wasting money on unnecessary stationery!
There Is No One Way To Bullet Journal
Bullet Journal is a system, a set of directions, but where you go from there is completely up to you! Since Ryder Carroll introduced the system, it has come a long way evolving into something completely new.
Of course, I’d recommend to start from the original source. If you know the basics it’ll be much easier to understand all the new evolved versions of the system.
There are a million different ways to customize your journal, from the design you use to decorate it, to the pages you use to increase your productivity. Every Bullet Journal is unique, so always remember: other people’s work must be used as inspiration, not as strict rules on how to set your own journal.
You can get some page inspirations in my 100+ page ideas for your Bullet Journal to organize your life post.
You Can Start Your Bullet Journal At Any Time
I know how we work, and it’s always so much nicer to start on Monday, or next month, or the best – in a new year. But sadly that also means maybe not starting at all.
The whole beauty of the Bullet Journal system is that you don’t need to wait, you can start today! The journal is fully customizable, so even if you start it from this Wednesday – it’ll look and work just fine.
That’s a great advantage, first of all, because when you decide to start planning you won’t have to wait. And second – when you run out of space in your notebook, you won’t need to spend months without one waiting for the new year to start. You’ll be able to keep going like nothing happened.
For example my third journal I started in the middle of the year. Check out my Plan With Me post to see how you can start your journal any month and make it fit your needs.
Bullet Journal Is A Living Notebook
Never forget, that Bullet Journal is a fully customizable planner. Meaning that at any moment it can become whatever you need from it. So I encourage you not to settle down for one format (unless of course, it’s the one that works perfectly for you!)
Try different layouts, different approaches. Maybe some days you’ll be very busy and you’ll want to go with a minimalist style. Some other days you might want to try journaling and using daily spreads.
Don’t be afraid to change the style and setup according to your current needs. Bullet Journal is a living notebook which grows and changes together with you!
Bullet Journaling Doesn’t Have To Take A Lot Of Time
After seeing all the artistic Instagram layouts, you MUST have had an OMG moment where you probably thought “no way I’ll have the time to do that!” I thought the same. And to be fair – Bullet Journaling can be time-consuming.
BUT! It’s all up to you! If you don’t have time to journal – you can just do your setups in 10 minutes (try some of these minimalist spreads). If you do have some extra time – feel free to spend hours on your every page.
Never forget, that after all, the whole point of Bullet Journal is to help you organize your life so you can have more time, not consume the little free time you have already. You have, with Bullet Journal, the full control of your life. It is whatever you want and need it to be.
If You Fail – Don’t Give Up
Bullet Journal system works best if you put all your information there. Anything and everything that is happening in your mind and around you. I must confess I found it a bit difficult at the beginning. Trying to remember to use the journal and to put there all my tasks and ideas – this looked like something I could never get used to doing.
You might have the same issues. My advice to you is just power through it. Don’t give up! Like with all new habits it’ll be a bit hard and unusual at the beginning, but it’ll pay off later on.
If something doesn’t work – maybe you need a different format, different techniques. Don’t give up on the system, allow yourself some time to get used to it and customize it to your particular needs.
Like with all the good things, this might require a bit of work on your habits and some searching. But as long as you are determined to start planning and using your time in a productive way, you will succeed!
You Should Always Have A Monthly Review
Having a Bullet Journal and planning your time is great, but it’s not enough. The very important part of Bullet Journaling, which often gets overlooked, is to review all that you’ve done.
I know in the header I said a monthly review, but actually you can review it as often as you want. Monthly just seems like the most convenient and widespread way to do them though.
A monthly review is important because on one side it tells you where you are on your way to achieving your goals and what progress you made during the month. On the other side – it helps you to tweak your journal spreads to make it work even better for you.
Ask Yourself This
When it comes to your journal improvement, at the end of the month ask yourself these questions: which weekly / daily layouts were most functional? Should you use a daily task list or have an hourly schedule? What pages you didn’t use at all? What pages felt like a chore to fill out? What pages helped you to be more productive?
Answer these questions monthly and you’ll be able to get even more from your journal.
When it comes to your goals, think about them: which tasks you accomplished and which ones you didn’t? What tasks are you taking over to the next month? Which habits you managed to follow through and which you didn’t (and why)? Which goals you didn’t accomplish this month and how can you achieve them next month?
This should give you an understanding of how productive your month actually was and whether you need to make some changes in your planning and in your schedules for the next monthly setup.
Many people don’t do reviews, and that really lowers the result of bullet journaling. If you don’t know how well the current system works for you, how will you ever improve it? So be ready to include monthly reviews into your must-have list of pages.
Bullet Journal Community Is Full Of Amazing People
Starting your own Bullet Journal might be very intimidating. I know I felt that way after looking at all the amazing pro spreads on Instagram and Pinterest. But I decided to give it a try, and not just to start a Bullet Journal, but also to connect with my fellow journaling fans.
And my oh my I discovered a gold mine! Bullet Journal community is full of love, positivity, and support. It’s not just amazing artists showing their stunning work and inspiring you. It’s also beginners like you and me who are making their first steps in Bullet Journal world and looking for some guidance.
In this community, I found my inspiration, my confidence and most importantly – amazing friends. Friends who don’t just help me on my BuJo journey and push me to be better at it every day, but also friends who share my interest, who are always there to listen and to send their support.
So my advice is to go and join some groups, connect with people and let them become an important part of your Bullet Journal journey.
There are a lot of Facebook groups for Bullet Journal fans, and it’s always nice to find people who love and are interested in the same things as you do. Just to name a few, check out these two groups: Bullet Journal Junkies Facebook Group and Boho Berry Tribe Facebook Group. These are huge groups, and you can find there not just experienced bullet journalists, but also beginners.
We also have our own little group for Planning Mashers – Bullet Journaling to Happiness, with a cozy community of Bullet Journal fans.
Where To Find Bullet Journal Inspirations
It’s great to connect with people on Facebook groups, but there are of course other ways to find inspirations for your Bullet Journal.
First of all, of course, I’m talking about Instagram. You can search for some popular related hashtags like #bulletjournal #bulletjournaljunkies #bulletjournallove #showmeyourplanner and get millions of amazing spreads as a result.
Or you can go straight to some amazing creators! Among my favorites are: @hayleyremdeart, @rachelmayplans, @planwithady, @plansthatblossom and @silva.and.bold. If you are into minimalist style – definitely check out @supermassiveblackink!
And of course my favorite inspiration source – Pinterest. You can find here not just spread images, but tutorials, informative blog posts, Bullet Journal tips, and tricks. Make sure to check out my Pinterest page, since it’s full of Bullet Journal goodies!.
Also, you should definitely check out the Bullet Journal Berries group board created by Kara from Boho Berry. This board has more than 50 thousand Pins already and almost 600 contributors! So you know you’ll be able to find here all you need.
This would be all the things I wish I knew when I was starting out on my Bullet Journal. So I hope they’ll help you to find your way in this jungle faster.
The main thing to remember when you start your journal is this: you are the maker, your journal is what you’ll make it to be. So have fun and turn this notebook into an outstanding productivity tool it can be!
So, excited to start your journal? Or maybe you already have one? What were your troubles when you were starting out? Looking forward to seeing your replies in the comments!
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Are you a Bullet Journal beginner? Check my Ultimate Guide To Bullet Journal For Beginners!