Getting started on a bullet journal can be overwhelming and intimidating, so I’m sharing the things I learned in my first year of bullet journaling to help you know what to expect, to plan more efficiently, and to share my new-found love of this planning tool!
9 Things I Learned in My First Year of Bullet Journaling
I started bullet journaling at the beginning of 2017, and I’m now a full-fledged bullet journaling addict! I love having the ability to customize my bullet journal to my specific needs and desires. But it took me awhile to really get my planning routine down. Now that I’ve been at this for just over a year, I’ve picked up a few tricks. So, today I’m sharing a few of the things I learned in my first year of bullet journaling with you!
#1 Get to Know the Original Concept of the Bullet Journal and the Creator
I’m a little embarrassed to say that I didn’t know the origin of the bullet journal or the basics of the planning tool until several months after starting my first bullet journal. Thankfully, I discovered Kara of Boho Berry and her Bullet Journal 101 series. In the very first post in the series, Kara encourages her readers to “start at the source” by visiting bulletjournal.com, the website of the creator of the bullet journal, Ryder Carroll.
This was such a huge help to me! I gained a better understanding of how the bullet journal was born and how it evolved, and I learned SO much about the process of bullet journaling.
If you’re thinking about starting a bullet journal or if you’ve already started, head on over to bulletjournal.com to learn more about how this amazing planning tool was born!
Also check out Boho Berry for tons of inspiration and information!
#2 Just the Basics, Please
When I first started bullet journaling, I had so many layouts: daily, weekly, monthly, cleaning, menu planning….
I might have let my excitement take me overboard—and carry me ALL the way out to the middle of overwhelmed! 😉
Once I reined in my excitement and chose just a few regular planning layouts, I was able to enjoy my bullet journaling without the crushing how-am-I-ever-going-to-get-all-of-these-layouts-done-before-the-month-is-over feeling.
Wen you first get started, judiciously choose which layouts to include in your regular planning routine. You can always add more when/if you’re ready. That’s part of the bullet journal’s beauty!
#3 Know When to Choose Function Over Aesthetics (and Vice Versa)
Have you seen all of the ah-mazing bullet journal layouts over on Instagram?! They give me all the heart eyes!
When I first started bullet journaling I quickly became overwhelmed with the time required to create those beautiful layouts. I found that it was easier for me to build a foundation and get more comfortable with the system by creating layouts that were all about function and less about the “pretty.”
However, about four months into my bullet journaling experience, my planning became stagnant. I even abandoned my bullet journal for a few weeks. It wasn’t until I realized that I was ready for more complex layouts heavier on the aesthetics that I got my bullet journaling mojo back!
**Every one is different, so your function/aesthetics timeline might be be longer or shorter or you might be more in tune with the progression of your planning journey. Pay attention and check in with how you’re feeling!
#4 Make a Plan for Your Regular Layouts
It never failed: I’d get all of my monthly planning layouts done and start my first weekly layout, then realize I forgot to include my cleaning checklist or my habits checklist! *hand to forehead*
It wasn’t really a huge, forehead-smacking deal. I just added the missing layout in where I could, but after flubbing up my layouts a few months in a row I decided to create a plan for my regular planning. I just made a list of layouts that I wanted to include each month.
This year, now that I have more bullet journaling experience, I’m hoping to get a little more creative with planning my planning routine. 😉
Perhaps something like Megan over at Page Flutter created in her Planvember Day 9 post?
**Whether you’re new to bullet journaling or a long-time fan, check out Megan’s blog, Page Flutter, and follow her on social media. Her posts were a huge help to me when I first started, and I still love checking them out!
#5 Don’t Work Too Far Ahead
There are bullet journalers who don’t work ahead at all. I’m not one of them. I enjoy my bullet journaling much more if I can get my regular layouts completed as soon as possible. It helps me to really sink into the process of creating my other, irregular layouts and collections.
BUT I learned the hard way not to work too far ahead….
I think April and May are intermingled, and it was seriously confusing.
#6 Embrace Abandonment
Journaling abandonment happens, and it can actually be a positive experience that helps you grow as a bullet journaler.
First of all, I just made up the phrase “journaling abandonment.” My snark kicked in and voila! 🙂
When I say “journaling abandonment” I’m referring to abandoning layouts or collections, not your entire bullet journal (although that happens, too, just ask my daughters).
In January, I started out with a healthy habits tracker that I just didn’t like, and I abandoned it by March. I put three months of the tracker on one page, so it doesn’t look terribly pretty in its unfinished state.
Oh well. That’s how I learned what worked—and what didn’t work—for me.
Embrace a little journaling abandonment for the reward of fine tuning your layouts and bullet journaling preferences!
#7 Index Regularly
I stopped indexing my bullet journal in March….
Man, March was a rough month for me!
By June I couldn’t find anything in my journal, and I got very tired of flipping through the filled out pages over and over again.
You don’t have to index everything (in fact, it’s best not to), but stay caught up on indexing the important pages that you’ll likely be referring to often.
#8 Thread Regularly, Too
Threading helps you keep track of ongoing collections throughout your bullet journal.
For example, I have a lot of unfinished projects that I’m attempting to complete. Currently, my list spans two pages in my bullet journal, so I wrote the other page number on the bottom of the page.
Stay caught up on this. It will make you a much more efficient bullet journaler!
#9 Start Prepping Your Next Journal Early
Again, I learned this one the hard way. I decided I’d prep my 2018 journal the week after Christmas (I just got lucky with my 2017 journal filling up at the end of the year). It was supposed to be a calm, relaxed, and easy going week….
It wasn’t. My entire family was sick, including me. And all we did was watch movies, whine, or sleep.
I started 2018 with nothing in my new journal.
I’m slowly getting caught up, but I’m dealing with a little of the aforementioned how-am-I-ever-going-to-get-all-of-these-layouts-done-before-the-month-is-over feeling.
A Few of My Favorite Collections
Finally, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite collections from my very first bullet journal.
I loooooved my bookshelf pages and tracking all of the books I read in 2017!
On the next page, I created a To Read collection that I didn’t use at all. Goodreads is my go-to app for keeping track of books I want to read, so I won’t be including a To Be Read List in my 2018 journal.
This is such a fun layout for keeping track of and budgeting for our house projects!
I found the inspiration on Instragram…but I can’t remember from whom; I’ll tag it if I can find it.
Ufortunately, there’s not quite enough room in the boxes for all of the information I want to include. So I’m on the hunt for a different layout for my 2018 journal!
My quotes page is another favorite, and I’m a little surprised that I filled it up!
I’m just not very good about taking the time to write down quotes. Maybe because I find most of them in books I’m reading, and I refuse to STOP reading to write down a quote! 😉
I so enjoyed my first year as a bullet journaler, and I’m excited to get my new journal set up and ready for action!
These are some of the things I learned in my first year of bullet journaling. I hope they give you an idea of what to expect when you start your first bullet journal and help you to plan more efficiently. Thanks for letting me share my new-found love of this planning technique!
Pin this post, so that you always have it at hand when you need it!
Related Posts You Might Enjoy
If you enjoyed today’s posts, you might also like these related posts.
- How to Start Bullet Journaling
- 5 Essential Morning Routine Elements
- How to Write a Better To-Do List & Actually Get Your To-Dos Done
Thanks for being here today!
Join the Office Organization Challenge!
Each day for 7 days, we'll tackle one office trouble spot, get it decluttered and organized, and create processes to KEEP it that way!
Take back your work space, beat overwhelm, and make the most of your business building time!