Welcome to my not so new series, Bullet Journal 2.0. In this series, I’ll be discussing a number of topics, including what a bullet journal is, future logs, monthly spreads, weeklies vs. dailies, habit tracking, collections, getting over the fear of starting (hey, you’re on this post), what to do before you get started, FAQs, and a final wrap-up with my top tips and pointers. If you were counting, that was 10 topics. One topic a week for ten weeks! I dug myself a deep hole here, but with your support, I’ll pull through.
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We are nearing the end of this series, and it’s time to answer one of the biggest questions I get asked. Next week I’ll be covering FAQ’s about bullet journaling. But, this question deserved a post of its own because it gets asked so frequently.
“How Do I Get Over the Fear of Starting a Bullet Journal?”
First, let me start by telling you why this question is so common. If you have searched for ‘bullet journal’ on Google, Pinterest, or Instagram, you know that there are about 50 bajillion images of artist-like journals. It’s intimidating. Looking at journals with absolutely stunning calligraphy and creative layouts makes you doubt your artistic abilities. This is 100% normal! It’s practically second nature to compare ourselves to others. So, it’s no surprise that we get a little worried about not measuring up.
Hopefully, through this post, you will gain some new perspective and overcome that fear of starting a bullet journal.
Remember the #1 Purpose
The biggest pointer I can give you is to remember the purpose of keeping a bullet journal. You want to be more productive. If it’s not Tumblr beautiful, it’s ok as long as it’s serving it’s purpose. So, start simple. Visit the Official Bullet Journal website, get a really good grip on the basic structure, and start there. It’s easy and doesn’t require any level of artistic ability. But, it’s also flexible enough where you can spice it up later when you have the confidence to do so.
So, I just got through telling you how it’s human nature to compare ourselves to other people. While that is still true, there are some limitations. You know that person you follow on Instagram who has a feed packed with 250 photos of their gorgeous bullet journal? Well, that person has probably been doing it for a year or more. The point is, you can’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20. Everyone was a beginner at some point. It takes a lot of practice, patience, and consistency to become really good at something. So, look up to those people for inspiration. Borrow ideas from them. But don’t sit an allow yourself to become upset because your first page doesn’t look like theirs.
For a little motivation, here is my first bullet journal compared to now. A little over a year, a lot of hours spent sitting and practicing lettering and doodling, and a fair amount of frustration later.
Stop Assuming You Will Fail
For many people, planning systems have been a huge letdown. We’ve all been there. December rolls around and you buy a chic planner and some cute pens. You make it halfway through January and you lose motivation. Then your new planner you were so set on using is in a drawer in your desk collecting dust. Yep, I’m right there with you.
Don’t go into bullet journaling thinking it’s going to be a total bust. Be excited! Find your passion, whether it be lettering, doodling, writing out journal entries, creating trackers and collections, etc. This isn’t a system with a fixed structure. You can use it every day, every week, twice a month. Use it when you want. Set it up how you want. Just don’t go in with the mindset that it’s not going to work for you. Planning is a routine you have to keep up on and be committed to. But if you stay consistent, it will become a habit, and hopefully one you can enjoy and look forward to.
Get Some Stencils and Stickers
A lot of people’s concern is that they can’t draw, doodle, or they have bad handwriting. Well, if you are absolutely set on having a creative journal from the beginning, you can make it beautiful without drawings or brush pens. With the help of my good friends Amazon and Etsy, I have come across some great tools for bullet journaling.
- Planner Stickers: You don’t even need to write out the days of the week with these stickers. Plus you can get numbers, water trackers, and so much more. There’s just about every font you can imagine, and they are very reasonably priced.
- Washi Tape: It comes in 5 billions colors and patterns, it’s cheap, and super easy to find. You can get it online, at your local craft store, and even some big box stores like Walmart and Target. It’s a great and super easy way to add some flair to your bullet journal without drawing.
- Stencils: Did I mention Etsy is the shit? It really is. You have to check out these bullet journal stencils. It makes it super easy to add boxes, icons, lettering, and even entire layouts.
- Stamps: These letter stamps are on my wishlist. You get the stamps and this block and then you can create awesome lettering without a single pen stroke. My next Amazon order will contain these because I think they are the coolest. Get some!
Use What You Have on Hand
Okay. Time to get really really real. I’m a part of quite a few Facebook Groups for bullet journaling. I have a pretty active Instagram account. The one thing I always see is people asking for suggestions on notebooks and pens. In all fairness, I’ve written a post about my favorite supplies. But, these suggestions in no way dictate what you must use. A lot of people don’t want to start until they can ‘afford a nice notebook and pens’. I’m not trying to be an ass, but this is garbage. Don’t get me wrong. I love my LT1917 and Staedtler Pens. But, my first bullet journal was a lined journal from Shopko, and I had three or four different colored pens to use in it. You do not need any fancy supplies to start.
A dot grid journal is not necessary to start. You don’t have to use a Leuchtturm1917. If you do want a dot grid notebook, there are cheaper options, like this one. There are cheap color pens. And if you don’t want to buy these items, that is 100% okay! Start with a composition notebook or a regular lined notebook and a BIC pen you stole from the bank. Back to the first point. It’s all about the purpose of the system: productivity.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”
Other Posts in the Series:
[ Part 1: WTF is a Bullet Journal]
[Part 2: Before You Get Started]
[Part 3: The Future Log]
[Part 4: The Monthly Log]
[Part 5: Weekly Logs vs. Dailies]
[Part 6: Habit Trackers]
[Part 7: Collections]
[Part 8: You Are Here]
[Part 9: FAQs]
[Part 10: Wrap Up & Final Tips]
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