Like many others before me, I started a bullet journal in July of this year. But I didn’t necessarily start it for the same reasons. We’re all different and our bullet journals should reflect that. We should all have our own bullet journal rules.
Have you ever found yourself feeling overwhelmed by the world of bullet journalling? Before I started mine I certainly did. With the countless instagram accounts, pinterest boards and YouTube flip-throughs all displaying beautiful, artistic layouts I feared putting pen to paper. I was worried it wouldn’t be good enough and I didn’t know where to start.
That’s why I decided to create my own bullet journal rules and record the reasons I was interested in starting a bullet journal in the first place.
Rule 1: Don’t compare to others
Although I like trying creative things, I have never been known for my artistic abilities. And do you know what…that’s OK! There is no use in comparing my bullet journal to other people’s. We all journal for different reasons. For some people the artistic release is a big part of that. But it doesn’t have to be. And it doesn’t have to be ‘good’ by other people’s standards.
Rule 2: Prioritise function over design
First and foremost a bullet journal should be useful. That’s why Ryder Caroll created the bullet journal system. Some days I doodle, I use colour, I use washi tape – little things to make it look ‘pretty’. I enjoy that, but sometimes I don’t have time for it. I might write a quick shopping list or put all my thoughts onto paper in whatever order they come to me. Both types of journalling are perfectly valid and they can live separately or alongside each other – that’s the beauty of the system.
Rule 3: Only use what is helpful for you
There are many collections that can be added to the journal. Many different layouts people have created beyond the original bullet journal method. I love seeing how others have used their bullet journal but it’s important not to feel like you have to implement all of the things you’re seeing. For example, some weeks I have used a weekly spread to track my tasks and activities rather than daily logging. Other weeks I have found daily logging more helpful to bring structure into my day when I am not working.
I have purposely started slowly, only implementing a couple of new things each month. If they work, I keep them. For example setting three goals each month has helped me focus on what is most important.
If things don’t seem helpful, I just don’t do them again. For example I had a dedicated space for grocery shopping on weekly spreads but found I wasn’t using it.
Rule 4: Remember the reasons you wanted to start
Everyone journals for different reasons and I think it’s important for you to know what your reasons are. This will stop you putting things in your journal just because others are doing it, and help you focus on what is important to you. For me this is my health and well-being. I wanted to make self-care a regular part of my routine, not something I might do if I reach the end of my to-do list. I am coming to realise just how essential this is for those with a chronic illness.
I also want to make sure I pace myself and leave time to rest. My bullet journal helps give me an overview of what’s ahead and I can make sure rest is prioritised and scheduled, particularly in busy periods. It will also give me a place to record self-care strategies I have tried and how they made me feel. I hope that I’ll be left with a completed bullet journal that I can review and learn more about myself. What I like and what I don’t. What helps and what hinders. Knowledge is power as I try and improve my health.
Creating these bullet journal rules for myself has stopped me feeling overwhelmed and helped me focus on making it useful for me. Actually writing these rules in my bullet journal means I can check back on them from time to time to remind me what’s important.
Why do you bullet journal? Share your bullet journal rules in the comments.