I have seen a lot of people try the Bullet Journal system and then giving up for one reason or another. Most of the time the reason that people stop using their Bullet Journal is that they are over complicating things and making their Bullet Journal more of a chore than a joy to work on. I am going to share some thoughts that I have had about why people struggle with their Bullet Journal.
Keeping a Bullet Journal should make you happy and feel inspired to get shit done! Yes, it involves some work, to begin with. But if you feel that this is too much work to have to draw out your spreads. Then maybe this isn’t for you and you should maybe get a pre-done planner.
You don’t use it
This is plain and simple. If you aren’t using it, you aren’t benefiting from this amazing system that you have before you. Now, this could be due to a number of things. You get to that point where you don’t feel like maintaining your Bullet Journal. You feel like is it extra work and you would rather be doing something else. We have all been there at some point trust me.
If this sounds familiar then strip back you set up, rewatch the original video about the system here, and go back to basics. Sometimes just taking it back to the basic system can really help build up the habit of using it. Also, and I know that this will be hard but, don’t worry about how it looks. Have a messy collection, have scratch lines through things.
I have my most productive days when I stop stressing about how my to-do list visually looks, remember that you don’t have to share your Bullet Journal with anyone it is for you to keep your life on track.
You Aren’t Learning From The Past
A lot of people tend to create their Bullet Journal, fill it in, and never look at those pages again. You should be doing a check in once a month and review, review and review! Take some time to look back at your habit trackers, your collections and challenges and review what you have done.
Does it work? Was it helpful? Did you not use that page once you set it up, I have done this before. Make sure that you are looking back on the work that you have done and that you are getting rid of pages that didn’t work and trying new pages.
One awesome way you can learn more about yourself, and your Bullet Journal is to do a monthly review before you set up you next month. Not sure how to do this, I suggest that you watch this video from Laura over at How to get your shit together. Also while you are over there check out a few other videos.
You Don’t Make Adjustments
This takes the previous step a little bit further. It is all well and good to be setting up trackers and collections, but these are there to help you. Whether you are tracking your habits or monitoring your goals, you are logging valuable data about your life and this then helps figure out what you need.
When you are looking at these pages you can see what is working for you and what isn’t working. If it isn’t working, acknowledge WHY it isn’t working for you and then make an adjustment and do it differently! There is nothing worse than forcing yourself to do a spread in your Bullet Journal because you feel you have to do it. This is a sure fire way to make you stop using your Bullet Journal.
Asses, review and then adjust. If you don’t like how a certain page turned out, look for a new layout, ask in facebook groups for feedback or have a look at Cristina blog for some amazing layout posts. I go to her when I am not sure what layout I want to do next. She also has some amazing resources that you can use.
You Copy Other People’s Goals
Goals are such a personal thing and one thing that I am guilty of is copying other people’s goals. We have all done it! You see someone’s goals and think “Oh that sounds good I’ll do that as well!” This is not how you should be setting goals. You need to think about what you need to achieve in your life as everyone is different. Though you may like that sound of someone’s goal, if it doesn’t inspire you to work on it then skip it!
Sit down with a blank piece of paper or a new spread in your journal and brainstorm. What you want to do in any area of your life. A couple of my goals at the moment are: Finish the hallway decorations and get people in to design a new bathroom (I know so rock and roll).
But in order to get to that point, I needed to sit done and figure out what I wanted to do in the house. Now I have done this with my work and this blog and I have clear goals in place and what I need to do to get those goals checked off.
Super Helping hand:
If you are not sure where to start I would suggest having a look on Laura channel here at the different ways to set your own goals and focus on what you need to do! Make sure that you take the time to work out what your goals are.
You Feel Like You Don’t Have the Proper Tools
I know, I know. I have been there, I too have felt the NEED to have all the things. This can be one of the most crippling things when it comes to starting a Bullet Journal. You feel that you need to have all the pens and highlighters and stickers. Trust me all you need to start your journey is a notebook and a pen. Trust me I have been there and bought all the things only to not keep up with my journal because I felt overwhelmed!
Okay so you really want to buy all the things here is a list of what I feel is a good starter kit to get you going in your Bullet Journal.
- Scribbles That Matter dotted notebook – thank me later
- Staedtler Triplus Fineliner
- Bullet Journal Stencils
These three things will get you going and on the track to getting a grasp on the Bullet Journal system!
Making Bullet Journal Spreads Too Complicated
This is something that I fell foul to early on. I felt that in order to “Bullet Journal” I HAD to copy all the complicated spreads that the big Instagram Bullet Journal people were doing. I can not stress enough that you need to start simple just like the tools just start with the original system and build on it. Don’t get overwhelmed.
You will quickly learn like I did, what does and doesn’t work for you. Trial and error are what the first few months of your journals are going to be. If you do complicated spread out from the gate then you will get overwhelmed and not stick with it. There are also some amazing minimal Bullet Journalist out there that will inspire you to stay simple check out this hashtag on Instagram.
You Don’t Have a Plan
This is something that I ALWAYS do when starting a new journal figure what spreads I actually need and use and which I am going to dump. This is something that you need to plan for. Do you do a lot of tracking? Then you’re going to need some trackers. Planning blog posts then you need somewhere to keep ideas and track stats. Make sure you have a plan for what you are going to use your journal for.
Take a scrap of paper and decide what spreads you are wanting and going to use in you Bullet Journal. Sketch out what they will look like and then start filling in your journal in pencil, to begin with, and you can amend as and when you need to before committing to pen. This is something I did a lot when I first started as I didn’t know what I wanted, but with time I knew how I wanted to lay things out.
I also have a second notebook with different layouts in it for when I feel I need a change. This is great as well as I don’t have to count things out from scratch!
You Don’t Work on it Daily
This is something that comes with habit and is something a lot of people don’t do when they start a Bullet Journal. Just 10 mins a day to go through your pages and catch up on trackers, challenges or filling out tomorrows tasks. Can get you into the habit of having that 10 mins peace and helps you focus on tomorrow.
And you know what if you miss a day that’s fine we all do it. Miss a week no sweat just make sure that you pick your Bullet Journal back up. Soon and get back into the habit of using it.
I have found the easiest way to make this a habit was to make it part of my night time routine. I turn the pc off and grab my Bullet Journal and sit for ten mins. Reviewing the days and setting up tomorrow pulling from Trello and my master brain dump.
I’ll add any other tasks that as floating around my head. Make sure I have a top 3 for the next day, 1 for home, 1 for work and 1 for the blog. I also have it as part of my morning routine now as well, just so I know what I am getting up to that day and adjust based on my energy levels.
Have a think about what your day looks like and how you can fit it into your routines.
No Accountability, Get a Buddy!
This is something that I think will help you when you feel like you can’t continue with your journal. Find a person or group that you trust and know will give you that little push to keep going. You don’t have to go it alone. I have been there, I have fallen off the wagon with my journal. I have not picked it back up and my job suffered for it. But if you have a support team around you to help you get back into the swing of things. This can help make your Bullet Journal much easier to do.
Find a support group of people as they can also be an amazing source of inspiration. But remember don’t get caught into the trap of copying other peoples goals remember. Have a search on Facebook for Bullet Journal groups and join some groups. I know that this can be scary. But sharing your spreads but this community is amazing at helping beginner and more experienced people. We have all been at one point or another your boots and we love sharing our knowledge!
You Think Missing a Day or Entry is Failure
You will eventually have a day where you are not able to keep up. We have all been there, yup even those big insta people have their off days. Regardless of the reason for your lapse don’t worry. A lot of people tend to panic when this happens, I know I did. They feel like they have failed at their journal and that they need to start again with another notebook. I have been there and I have the notebooks to prove it.
But trust me it is not the end of the world. Like Jessica over at prettyprintsandpaper always says “Just turn the page!”. The best part about bullet journals is that if you stop for a period of time, it’s extremely easy to start where you left off. Just turn the page and start afresh! You could even do a spread about why you missed a day or how you felt and overcame it. Turn that blank page into a learning experience and continue on stronger than ever knowing that you overcame a hiccup!
If you find that you are struggling with your Bullet Journal, most of the time you can easily fix this by taking some time to review and make adjustments. Whether it’s finding accountability, to creating a new habit, or trying something new for another month. Trust me it can a few months to get your groove in the Bullet Journal world.
If you’re new to bullet journals, I hope that you take the time to try new things. Simplify. Research your spreads. Make a plan. And if you really are struggling reach out to people, I’m always happy to help. There are so many amazing people in our community that have been there and struggled as well.
That’s all from me today! You can follow me on Instagram @samalderson_. Or alternatively, you can sign up to get notifications everytime I post. Just fill in that box on the left.