It’s been 18 months since I committed to Bullet Journaling. I had been planning using my Erin Condren Life Planner for about 4 years and had given the BuJo a try once before without success. I wanted to write down some advice and tips I have for keeping up a bullet journal. While I do have some months which are not completely filled in, generally speaking – I’ve been using my BuJo every day for awhile now. So here are my tips for a continued BuJo success:
Fill in your Bullet Journal at the same time every day
For me, it’s before I take a shower and while I’m winding down my day. Every day I take from 5-10 minutes to fill in my BuJo. It’s just part of my wrap up routine and creates an opportunity to reflect before bed. I also routinely set up the following week on either Friday or Saturday night.
There are so many places that people find inspiration. From nature to illustrations to animals – everyone finds their inspo in different places. I find a lot of inspiration on Instagram, Pinterest and also street art. I often have an idea in mind and I look for things that fit the theme. This April: it’s Copenhagen. I looked for some ideas on Pinterest and Google and then made it into my style.
Find what works…
One of the reasons my first BuJo failed was because my weekly spread was really complicated. I had hydration trackers and weekly goals area on top of tasks and habits. It took forever to set up each week and to be honest – it was in no way functional for me. When I started moving towards a more simple spread, it became less of a chore to set up. In fact – I have a rule that I refuse to make more than 7 boxes for the week – and even that’s a bit of a stretch for me. In my current bullet journal, I’ve been really into using the dutch door style but in general I want to have a sidebar with habits, weekly tasks and daily lists. My layout for the past year has almost always had each of those features.
… but don’t be afraid to experiment within your system
While I think I have my weekly system down pat, I use my creativity more in my monthly lists. One thing I’ve been experimenting with more and more is my mood tracker. Instead of having some sort of arbitrary graph, I’ve used it as one of the more creative elements. Each color represents a different mood – instead of just having a “good” to “bad” scale – I want to pinpoint my most common overall moods. When I look at those spreads, I have an idea of my overall mood for the month. January and February were overall pretty good months – only one or two anxious and frustrated days each. March introduced a lot more tired, sick and neutral days. While it’s a little different in it’s presentation, I enjoy thinking of how to represent my moods each month.
Figure out what you like to put in there
Like I mentioned, when I started using a bullet journal – I wrote down all sorts of things that I do not track anymore. I don’t need to know about my hydration and meals every day. I also don’t need to write down what sorts of social contact I had each day (what can I say – I was lonely when I moved to Spain). What I do like to track is my habits, tasks and moods. I’ve written a complete blog post on how to choose what habits to track here and how to start habit tracking here. It’s one of the more interesting things to see if either tasks or habits affect my overall mood in a day. Considering I’m someone living with severe anxiety, it’s really important for me to find patterns and avoid potential triggers.
If you do need to track hydration or social interaction – do it! That’s the whole point of a bullet journal. There isn’t just one way to do it. While at first you may feel overwhelmed, in the end – it’s a pretty rewarding system.
Stop comparing your style
One thing I notice all the time on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube is that a lot of bullet journals are focused on simple, monochromatic themes. They are cool and minimal and I love to look at them. For my own journal – I need color. I like making color stories for each month using my inspirations. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a maximalist with my spreads but I do love to have about 7 colors featured for each month (but sometimes more sneak in – let’s be honest). It’s what I like. I just wouldn’t enjoy it as much if I used only one color per month – that’s not my style. I’ve embraced it.
Definitely let me know below if you have other suggestions or tips for those people who don’t feel like they can commit to a bullet journal. I would love to hear how you get out of slumps when you have them. And in the slightly modified words of Rick Steves: Keep on Journaling.