Anyone starting a new bullet journal will at some point be lost when they open that first page. Trust me, I’ve been there. When I first learned everything there was to know about bullet journaling, the moment I actually had a physical journal in my hands did I realize that I had no idea where to start or what to do.
This is why every beginner (and pro) should know these essential bullet journal tips that will make you more equipped when starting a new journaling experience.
Here’s what they don’t tell you: there are quite a few things in journaling that can and should be left out as well as those that you don’t really need to pay much attention to. So, before you get started on your journey, remember these following bullet journal tips that will make you better prepared and relaxed.
1. Keep It Simple
After browsing so many images on Instagram and watching quite a number of Youtube tutorials, you may have come across plenty that shows you fancy looking spreads with beautiful artistic layouts and the neatest handwriting you could only dream off.
I’m here to tell you that you don’t need all of this. Yes, you can totally learn these smart bujo hacks that will show you how to achieve these gorgeous spreads but depending on how you plan to use a bullet journal, keeping things simple is always the best way to go before trying anything new.
Simply because you don’t want to become overwhelmed with all this knowledge. Unfortunately, I made this very mistake which led me to experience negative feelings about journaling and myself in general.
Some of those thoughts included not feeling good enough in terms of artistic skills or just not enjoying bullet journaling as a process. It became a stress to make my spreads look as good as the other artists and this took up way more time than it really needed to.
I highly recommend you pick out only the information that will benefit you and make your bullet journal according to what you feel and thinks looks good.
If you don’t want to doodle, paint, or even use washi tape, you don’t need to. If all you want to use your bullet journal is to write a quick to-do list, that’s totally fine!
There’s no need to achieve that level of someone else’s journal because, at the end of the day, journaling is fun!
2. Browse Ideas and Watch Videos
Sometimes, you may know a little about bullet journaling but completely lost at what to really include. Well, there are plenty of things to add to your journal. If you watch a Youtube video, you’ll find a complete setup and detailed guidelines on what they include.
Watching videos and browsing for bullet journal ideas on Instagram are great ways if you’re stuck for ideas or confused as to what to add in yours but do be careful of becoming overwhelmed as we discussed earlier.
If you have a general idea of what kind of theme you’d like to have, looking for inspiration and ideas can easily be found in this type of media.
3. Gather Your Supplies
From what I learned from bullet journaling over these last few years is that if you want to make your spreads look pretty, you’re going to need the correct art supplies.
This applies to a basic or artistic spread but for minimalistic spreads, all you need is a black pen and a ruler!
There are many different supplies that are used for bullet journaling and you may need specific pens and bullet journals if you want to have that ‘easy’ journaling experience.
You can see our recommend bullet journals where we discuss the cost and which journal is worth using if you want to make an informed decision. Some bullet journals cannot take heavy art supplies which may lead to pen bleeds and watermarks.
But scary stuff aside, make sure that you have these following supplies (at least a few) when bullet journaling:
- A bullet journal (or a lined notebook)
- Brush Pens
- Washi Tape
- Gel Pens
4. Plan Your Setup
To avoid paralysis analysis, be sure to have an overall idea of your monthly setup, what you’d like to include in your spread, the collection pages, things you need to track, your goals, visions, and planning pages.
You can even sketch it out on a separate page with a pencil just to get an idea of what will go where rather than just inking immediately which can lead to making more mistakes.
However, fixing bullet journal mistakes are actually easier than you think. There plenty of ways to cover it up with art supplies.
Also, once you have a general idea of what kind of themes and layouts you will be using, go ahead and do a rough sketch in your bullet journal. You can easily make adjustments as things come along.
5. Use Craft Supplies and Other ‘Tricks’ To Decorate
Struggling to make your pages and layouts look good? Tired of just using markers and pens to decorate? You can do so much more than that.
One of the best ways to decorate bullet journal pages is by using stickers, washi tape, colored paper, watercolors, and using stamps! You can also keep your spreads color-themed that will complement the look of the layout.
Essential Bullet Journal Tips and Tricks To Remember:
- Use washi tape to tab specific pages so you can easily flip through
- Add a binder clip to your bullet journal to keep your pen on hand
- Use sticky notes to quickly keep tabs of important things to remember
- Keep an index page to categorize different sections such as important dates and appointments
- Create a ‘swatch’ page of the various color schemes and markers you have. This can be used for future reference when planning
6. Use Bullet Journal Pages
After a while of journaling, you’ll soon realize that you’ve run out of ideas to journal about. There’s only so many to-do lists, weekly and monthly spreads you can do before you start to feel bored.
Keep your bullet journal fresh and exciting by adding bullet journal collection pages.
These are exactly like adding a weekly or daily spread but more task-specific.
You can dedicate pages to reading, tracking your hobbies, a savings goal, travel spread, time management, vision boards, or even a page dedicated to your favorite songs, movies, and inspirational quotes you love.
7. Have A Monthly Review Page
Bullet journaling is a process and with only trial and error can you really know what’s best for you. The best bullet journal tip that has really helped me improve the way I approach journaling is by creating a monthly review page.
I always love to add this at the end of each month to breakdown everything that had happened during the month, the best moments and the bad days, what worked and what didn’t in terms of project planning and work, as well as a detailed overview of which bullet journal pages that I should include in the next month and which pages weren’t really needed.
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By making these few adjustments, your journal will be more organized and well planned out.
Say, for instance, you need a full budget page rather than just having a spending log that keeps track of how much you spent. In the next month, you could include both pages in your journal on a two spread and this will help you keep track of both.
Here’s what you can determine in terms of bullet journaling in your next review spread:
- Which spread worked best?
- The things you tracked
- Is a daily spread better or a weekly overview?
- Which theme took less time to create
8. Make It A Habit
There’s no rule as to how often you should bullet journal however, depending on how you use a bullet journal, this will, of course, determine how much you do use your journal.
If you’d like to journal more often, then make journaling a habit. This isn’t easy but there are ways to make journaling a habit.
You can use a daily habit tracker to track a few things or flip over to see what’s planned for the week ahead but if you want to actively use it, then I suggest keeping a daily log or using your bullet journal as a diary.
Things To Track In a Habit Tracker:
- Water Intake
- Daily Spending Log
This way you’ll be constantly adding information and making use of your bullet journal almost every day. However, do an experiment and see what works best for you. In time and practice, you’ll be able to figure out your sweet spot when it comes to journaling.
9. Avoid Overthinking
If there’s one main thing you need to do before starting a bullet journal is to not stress and overthink everything!
Even if you’ve decided on a particular theme or spread and already added it to your journal and see something else that’s way more interesting, you can go ahead and add it! There’s no need to feel stressed that you have one theme but then there’s something else.
A bullet journal is a perfect way to explore your creativity and artistic skills so make it unique and make it fun! Play around with what works and learn what doesn’t so you’ll be able to pick and choose in future spreads.
Other Questions You May Have
1. How Often Should You Bullet Journal?
One of the first questions you may have is how often or how many times a week should your bullet journal but this depends on how you intend to use your journal.
If you have spreads that require some kind of daily activity then you will be using your journal more often than not. So, depending on how you want to use your journal this will give you a good idea but there’s really no limit as to how much you should or should not.
Do experiment a bit in the beginning just to find that sweet spot that will be ideal for you.
2. When Is The Best Time To Bullet Journal?
Eventually, you can customize a schedule that will help you figure out the best time to bullet journal.
If you’re the kind of person who is planning to use your bullet journal to plan out your day then using this in the morning will be perfect. However, if you want to use your bullet journal to track the things you did for the day or give a recount of the day, night time would be best.
Of course, you can use your journal throughout the entire day. Similar to how often you should bullet journal, there is no rule of what time you should journal.
You will have to practice and experiment for yourself to see what works for you because what may work for others may not be the right thing for you. I recommend trying bullet journaling at various times to learn your ideal time and habits.
3. How Long Does A Bullet Journal Last
Two factors that go into determining how long a bullet journal will last is how often you use it and how many pages you plan to include in it.
If you plan to make use of many different spreads or even keep daily logs and diary entries, then your bullet journal will not last long.
But typically, a bullet journal’s life span ranges anywhere between 3 to 6 months and more if you follow a minimalistic style bullet journal.
4. What Are The Benefits To Bullet Journaling?
With bullet journaling, you’ll definitely notice an increase in productivity and motivation to complete tasks more quickly than usual. If you implement a proper system in place, you’ll be well planned and scheduled when it comes to working, school, or even housekeeping.
Besides being productive, bullet journaling encourages you to stay organized, be more creative and artistic, motivates you to accomplish your goals, among others.
You’ll also be encouraged to explore and come up with new innovative ideas that will help you in life to improve the way you live and feel. Many of those who have a bullet journal has experienced the peace of mind and were able to improve certain areas of their life which they previously had difficulty in.
Normally, when we have a task to do or something slightly stressful, we tend to make up excuses to procrastinate which leads to more anxiety. A bullet journal can be used strategically to ensure you stay accountable for the tasks and goals you need to achieve.
Enjoy The Process
The last thing I’d like to remind every beginner at bullet journaling is to just enjoy the process. Make bullet journaling fun and exciting new experience and keep learning from others. Continue to take inspiration from other artists and try new things but never compare your work to others or theirs to yours.
Bullet journaling has many benefits and the longer you journal for, you’ll start to feel that change in you and the way you live. You’ll notice that you’ll feel more motivated and inspired as well as be more productive when it comes to handling things and getting work done.