11 Things You Need To Know Before Starting A Bullet Journal

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Are you thinking of starting a Bullet Journal? I’m here to help you out and share all I know about Bullet Journaling for beginners.

Today we are talking about bumps in the way that Bullet Journal beginners face and how to overcome them.

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 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 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 Journaling.

I want to help you out, point you in the right direction, and dissolve any misconceptions you might have about Bullet Journal.

So I combined here a list of 11 things you need to know (and consider) before starting a Bullet Journal.

Let’s dive in!

And be sure to scroll until the end of the post to access my free course that will rock your world!

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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 the purpose of it all before starting your 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’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 think 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!

One of my favorite Bullet Journal pages up to date

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 remember you have your own path. Give yourself time.

But if you want to be creative – you can teach yourself to be so.

Creativity is a muscle, you just need to train it, and in time you’ll get better and see your pages become more and more artistic.

You Don’t Need To Spend A Fortune On 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 scary to think how much money all those goodies cost.

I personally try not to even think about it haha

Well, the truth is – you don’t need to spend a fortune (unless you want to). Yes, you can always splurge a little more when you want, but it’s unnecessary.

Just check this post: 5 Essential Bullet Journal Supplies For Beginners.

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 tip would be to give it a try with some cheap supplies and discover what your style is. 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 know what 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 starting from the original source. If you know the basics, it’ll be much easier to understand all the newly 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 journal.

You can get some page inspirations in my 300+ 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, 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 this Wednesday – it’ll look and work 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.

2021-2022 Bullet Journal Setup, future log | Masha Plans

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 and different approaches. Maybe some days you’ll be very busy, and you’ll want to go with a minimalist style. On 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 that 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 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 already have.

You have, with Bullet Journal, full control of your life. It is whatever you want and needs it to be.

Be sure to check my post How To Bullet Journal When You Have No Time, for more tips on managing your time.

If You Fail – Don’t Give Up

The 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 to 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 or technique. Don’t give up on the system; allow yourself some time to get used to it and customize it to your particular needs.

Like all the good things, this might require some work on your habits and some searching. But as long as you are determined to start planning and productively to use your time, you will succeed!

Check out my post How To Make Your Bullet Journal Habit Stick, I think it would have some more useful techniques for you.

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.

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 them 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 didn’t?

  • What tasks are you taking over for the next month?
  • Which habits you managed to follow through and which 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 was and whether you need to make some changes in your planning and your schedules for the next monthly setup.

Many people don’t do reviews, which lowers bullet journaling results.

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 in your must-have list of pages.

Bullet Journal Community Is Full Of Amazing People

Starting your Bullet Journal might be very intimidating.

After looking at all the amazing pro spreads on Instagram and Pinterest, I felt that way. 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!

The 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 the Bullet Journal world and looking for some guidance.

In this community, I found my inspiration, 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.

Of course, I’d recommend our Facebook groupBullet Journaling to Happiness, with a cozy community of Bullet Journal fans and beginners like yourself.

Where To Find Bullet Journal Inspirations

It’s great to connect with people on Facebook groups, but there are other ways to find inspiration for your Bullet Journal.

First of all, of course, I’m talking about Instagram. You can search for popular related hashtags like #bulletjournal #bulletjournaljunkies #bulletjournallove #showmeyourplanner and get millions of amazing spreads.

And, of course, my favorite inspiration source is Pinterest. You can find here not just spread images, but tutorials, informative blog posts, Bullet Journal tips, and tricks. Check out my Pinterest page, since it’s full of Bullet Journal goodies!

These would be all the things I wish I had known when I started 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, and your journal is what you’ll make it to be. So have fun and turn this notebook into the outstanding productivity tool it can be!

And if you still have doubts, check my post 25 Bullet Journal Myths That Stop You From Starting. I’m quite sure you’ll find some answers there.

Free Course To Start A Bullet Journal

Need some more help to get started?

I got you covered with this as well.

I’ve created a free course that will walk you through the process of creating your Bullet Journal.

As a bonus, you’ll also get access to the Resources Vault, which already has 100+ free printables and is always being updated.

So, excited to start your journal? Or maybe you already have one? What were your troubles when you were starting?

Looking forward to seeing your replies in the comments!

I hope this post was interesting. If you find it so, please share! If you enjoy my content and want to show appreciation, please consider supporting me with a cup of coffee.

And remember: Keep Bullet Journaling, and Don’t Be A Blob.

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