It’s been 3 months now since I started on this bullet journal odyssey so I thought it would be good to look back at what I’ve learned in that time. Here are my 6 key learnings:
1. Get inspiration from others
There are lots of sources of inspiration out there – Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Bloggers so why not go searching for inspiration.
I found it useful to set up a Pinterest board of my own to collect pins from the web. Here’s a link to my board – it has spreads I like, doodles, and daily, weekly set-ups etc.
But beware – this “window shopping” can be addictive – at some point you’ll need to stop looking and start doing (see #6 below).
2. Don’t compare yourself with others
The downside of looking at other people’s journals for inspiration is that you begin to compare yourself unfavourably with others. The web is full of examples of beautiful handwriting and glorious artwork, but with the best will in the world, we don’t all have those abilities. Remind yourself of the purpose of your journal – is it to organised yourself, or is it to develop your creative side. Pick a style that suits YOU.
3. Find what works for you
Your journal should be your servant, not your master. Find a way that it can help you to do what you need it to do, without becoming too much like hard work, or an unnecessary burden.
Some people have dailies, weeklies, monthlies and a future log. I just have a monthly log and dailies. I don’t set out the week in advance (although I love a lot of the weekly spreads I see on the internet) because some days I need very little space and other days need more. I just fit as many days as I can on a double spread and I only migrate tasks when I turn the page.
You’ll also see a lot of habit trackers – I don’t bother with these because that’s not what I need the journal to help me with.
4. If it’s not working – Change it
You don’t really know how the journal is going to work for you until you start using it. So take the pressure off yourself, and don’t expect to come up with the perfect set-up at the outset. That’s the beauty of the system – you can simply do a new version of the page and index it.
I’ve had fun covering up a couple of early pages that didn’t work. I found the index was getting out of hand – so many entries that it wasn’t easy to find what I was looking for. So I decided to split it into categories, and to stop indexing the daily pages because once they are finished I have no reason to want to go back to them, and even if I did they are easy to find because they are in chronological order! I still wanted the index at the front though, So I printed some squared paper to match my journal and then taped it over the old pages – Now I love my index!
The future log was also a problem – I just didn’t like it. So I did another. I didn’t like seeing the old pages though, so I taped over photocopies of a couple of zen art pictures I created. Now when I flip past these pages I smile rather than grimace!
5. Allow it to evolve
Every week I have fun with different headers and banners for my dailies. I like to have a time bar so I’ve got a visual for the day so that element has remained pretty consistent, but everything else has changed.
The monthly spreads are also different (and I’m still experimenting). When setting up my September spread, I’ll reflect on what has worked in June, July and August and then create a hybrid.
I enjoy the fact that it is an evolutionary process. It makes the journal feel alive. And I enjoy flicking through the pages seeing the different spreads.
No amount of planning will give you what you will learn by just starting. So just do it and allow your style to develop. We are all unique, with unique talents and needs. That is the beauty of the bullet journal – there is no one size that fits all – you can create your own bespoke masterpiece that works for you.