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BuJo 101: 7 tips to help you get started on bullet journaling

Keeping organized can be pretty tough, especially if tasks and reminders keep piling up. Many keep track of their tasks, important events and reminders with planners, but it doesn’t really work for everyone. If you’re the type who struggles with maintaining a planner, bullet journaling might work better for you.

So what is a bullet journal? Simply put, it’s kind of like a DIY planner. Unlike store-bought planners, a bullet journal (also known as BuJo for short) usually starts out as a blank notebook, because it’s up to you how you’ll construct the layout of the pages.

For some, store-bought planners are effective for them because they already have templates that they’ll follow to organize their notes. However, for others it can feel as though they’re trying to fit into a given task system instead of having the system work for them.

If you want to give bullet journaling a shot but you’re not sure how to start or you feel intimidated, these tips might help you get started.

Learn the basics and make time to update your journal

bullet journal, bullet journaling
Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

A bullet journal is a highly customizable space where you can jot down tasks and reminders using a logging system that works for you, but there are some basic elements that usually go in a bullet journal. You don’t strictly have to follow them, but it’s a good idea to learn them and stick with them first because logging can be overwhelming when you’re just starting out.

Ryder Caroll laid out the basic elements of bullet journaling on his website (or you can also watch the tutorial). Learn the basics of bullet journaling and just stick to them. Jotting down entries and updating them as you go along might seem like a chore at first, but once you get the hang of how the basics of logging work it will start to feel natural and it will blend into your routine. Just keep practicing on logging until it becomes a habit for you.

Mix and match

If you feel that you’ve got the hang of the basics, feel free to experiment with the original elements of the journal. You can mix and match elements to see if it can result in a custom system that can work even better for you.

If you want to get ideas for different spreads, you can check out Pinterest and YouTube. Some BuJo YouTubers make their own logs and share how they work, so if you feel like their logging system works for you, feel free to try it, or mix and match it with other spreads.

Your bullet journal doesn’t have to look artsy or fancy

bullet journal, bullet journaling
Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

If you’re already familiar with bullet journaling from seeing people’s journal spreads on YouTube or Pinterest, you’ve probably noticed that their spreads look really artsy and fancy. This is something that beginners tend to worry about – making their bullet journals look as pretty as the ones they see online. Well, here’s the thing: you don’t have to make your bullet journal look pretty.

If you’re an artistic person and you really want to personalize your journal with art, feel free to do so. However, it’s important to remember that a bullet journal’s main purpose is to help you organize your tasks. Besides, designing your journal should be something you do for fun. If you constantly worry about making your journal look aesthetically pleasing, then it kind of defeats the purpose of helping you clear your mind. Your journal can be artsy or you can keep it simple. It’s really up to you because it’s your bullet journal.

Allow yourself to be a beginner

At first, you might struggle with keeping your journal updated and organized and it could lead to mistakes along the way. That’s okay, sorting out notes into the different logs can take some getting used to. Just don’t overthink it and allow yourself to make mistakes.

Another important thing to remember is that your bullet journal doesn’t have to be clean. A lot of the time, your journal entries could be rushed especially if you’re busy, so that could result in some messy-looking notes. That’s also fine, because your journal doesn’t have to look neat and pretty. As long as you’re comfortable with your note-taking and your notes help you keep track of what you need to do, then you’re good to go.

Check out Pinterest or BuJo YouTubers for inspiration

bullet journal, bullet journaling
Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

If you really want to put the work into making your bullet journal look artsy, you can get inspiration from bullet journal YouTube channels or on Pinterest. BuJo YouTubers often share their monthly layouts for their bullet journals, so you can get inspiration from them.

This goes the same way when it comes to the logging system you use for your bullet journal. Some BuJo YouTubers also share the templates that they use for their spreads with some detailed explanations of how the spread works for them. If you feel that their logging system might work for you, get inspiration from them. Who knows, it might help you invent your own system that works perfectly for you.

You can start your bullet journal anytime

Another thing that people tend to worry about when starting a bullet journal is the date. People usually think that Day 1 of their bullet journal has to be January 1st, but that doesn’t really have to be the case. If you miss out on starting your bullet journal at the start of a new year, that’s totally fine. You can actually start your bullet journal anytime!

Have fun with it!

Your bullet journal is meant to be like a guide for you to keep up with your tasks and important reminders, but it is also meant to help you clear your mind. It’s the space where you’ll jot down your notes and tasks so that they don’t have to be all cluttered in your head. For some, keeping a bullet journal is a way for them to unwind because it helps clear their mind.

The fun part about keeping a bullet journal is that it’s super customizable. Anything goes, really – if you want to sketch out or doodle any ideas you have for projects and other stuff, you can do that in your bullet journal. If you also want to have it double as something like a diary where you write down your thoughts, you can do that too. Just remember to have fun!


Other POP! stories you might like:

Use JournalTok to reflect and manifest for the rest of 2021

5 easy ways beginners can start practicing mindfulness

Give yourself a moment of mindfulness with these meditation apps

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