Your Bullet Journal Doesn’t Have to Be Instagrammable

Why did it take me so long to try bullet journaling?

For a while, I’d heard about using bullet journals for scheduling, project planning, journaling, making lists, and jotting down notes and ideas. But I was hesitant to try it for three main reasons:

1) It seemed to be just a fad, and I’m wary about fads (this tendency sometimes helps me avoid something harmful or useless, but other times may keep me from trying something that could be helpful).
2) The examples of bullet journals that I came across online seemed super fancy and elaborate, full of gorgeous graphics, reflecting a skill with drawing that I don’t have.
3) A quick glance at the bullet journal method gave me the impression that it was confusing and cluttered.

Why did I finally decided to try using a bullet journal? Last October, I had finished using a regular planner and was searching for a better way to keep track of different tasks. After hearing yet another recommendation for the bullet journal method, I decided to revisit it.

This time, I gave the method a closer reading, and I tried it out with an old spiral notebook I already had at home.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far, using a bullet journal:

– There’s no need for you to buy an official bullet journal. You can make use of an old notebook like this one:

bulletjournalnotfancy

– Your bullet journal requires no visual art, no artistic touches, unless you feel like adding some to it. (If you don’t want to draw something, you can paste in photos or cutouts from a magazine on certain pages.) Your approach to journaling can be minimalistic and entirely text-based if you want.

– You don’t need to make your journal worthy of an Instagram post, with fancy fonts and such, unless you really want to. Sometimes, people design their journal to make it look like a standard planner, which may interfere with its looser format and the more flexible way it’s meant to be used.

– Rather than being too cluttered, I’ve found the method of numbering pages and keeping a running table of contents (or index) helpful in finding what I need, including lists, notes, and fragments of fiction I’ve jotted down in between days.

– The instructions on the bullet journal website, linked to above, are a good starting point. As you use the journal, you can make modifications in how you organize or present the text in it (such as the way you highlight or prioritize certain tasks or set up weekly trackers). You can adapt its use to meet the specific demands of your life. It works well in tandem with other systems of organization, including project management software.

– I still find ways in which I can use the journal more effectively. This flexibility is one reason I like it.