7 Lessons Learned After My First Month of Bullet Journalling

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

At the start of October I decided to take the plunge and start a bullet journal. I made this decision based on the fact, I love lists, I love planning, I love stationary and I love having a creative outlet. Everything seemed aligned to pursue a bullet journal! And yes, magic happened and I’ve been obsessed ever since.

At first it seemed like a pretty daunting task. I’m very particular, especially when it comes to putting pen to paper. I’m one of those odd people that doesn’t want to ‘ruin’ a new notebook, and has a drawer full of empty notebooks I’ve acquired based on gorgeous covers or the quality of paper inside. So essentially I’m a notebook hoarder. And despite having several notebooks to hand, I decided to buy a new one for the purpose of bullet journaling. My excuse being I needed a journal with dotted pages as opposed to lines.

I then went on to find bujo inspiration. If you’re starting a bullet journal I would recommend this, because I literally had no idea where to start. I mean, I had a general idea of what it involved, but had no idea how far bujo-ing could go. This can be a little dangerous, because you might get carried away, and like me think you need to include pages for all sorts of stuff. The reality is, you’ll only get an idea of what works for you when you actually get into using your bullet journal. So, what did I learn after a month of bullet journalling?

1. A monthly cover page looks pretty, but doesn’t add any value

At the start of October I took out some time to draw a fall inspired monthly cover page. I mean it was fun and it looks nice, but did it add any value? No. I haven’t designed a pretty cover page for November, because I haven’t had time, nor did I feel the urge to. I mean it’s probably one of those things that I’d get stuck into it if I had some spare time. But is it an essential to bullet journalling? Not really.

2. Monthly goal setting works

This worked surprisingly well for me and it’s something I’ll keep doing. I noted down three simple goals for October, and each time I opened my bullet journal I was reminded of what I wanted to achieve that month. My goals were very simple: upping my squat weight, reading a book and going to a yoga class. I’ve written another set of simple goals for November, and can’t wait to start crossing them off.

3. The habit tracker was hit and miss

Now, this is something I thought would work really well, but did and didn’t. So a habit tracker basically involves listing a bunch of habits you want to track against days of the month. I noticed I was quite good at keeping up certain habits and others flopped. I broke my habits down into groups, for example, habits related to fitness, nutrition, blogging etc. I noticed some groups were complete fails, such as trying to get into Instagram and tweeting, and some were great successes, such as getting to sleep by 10:30pm. I think I might give the habit tracker another go in the future, but I need to think about what I want to track and how to address the pitfalls.

4. Simplicity is key

I realised very quickly that keeping it simple worked best. Each evening, I set aside some time before bed to review the day’s to-do list and write up a to-do list for the following day. When I was researching bullet journaling, I noticed that there are some very elaborate key systems out there. But for me, it’s as simple as a cross through a completed item, a swirly line for something that needs to be carried over to the following day(s), and a shaded box for something that is no longer relevant, cancelled etc.

5. It’s great for general lists and inspiration 

I’ve loved using my bullet journal for general lists and ideas. My bujo isn’t just home to my to-do lists, but general lists as well. For example, I’ve used it for shopping lists, books, workout ideas and blog post ideas.

6. It’s great for a productive weekend

I found that I’ve gotten the most benefit from using my bullet journal to plan a productive weekend. During the working week, my routine is pretty much the same and it’s doesn’t take a great deal of effort for me to tick off my weekly to-do lists i.e. working out, prepping lunch for work etc. But on Friday, I like to try and plan for a productive weekend, so I’ll squeeze little and large tasks in wherever possible.

7. It takes time to realise what works for you

When I first started bullet journaling, I went in gung-ho and wanted to do it all! It has taken me a month to really establish what works well for me and what doesn’t in terms of how I use my bujo. And I’m sure this will refine even more over time. So whilst it’s great to get inspired, and I do recommend looking around, don’t feel the need to do it all. Unless you’re just wired that way, like I am!

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