Mistakes, planning slumps, empty collections…
I often get messages asking me how to bullet journal the right way, and what to do if [write anything bullet journal related here]. Don’t let your “what ifs” stop you from starting or enjoying your bullet journal practice. If you’re starting your bullet journal journey (or if you’re in doubt about it), maybe you’ll find some answers to your very own “what ifs” in this post… And if you don’t, there’s always space in the comments to ask!
What if I do it wrong?
There’s not one right way to bullet journal, and no such thing as doing it wrong. The important thing in my opinion is to start with the basics of the method and make your journal evolve to match your own needs as you go.
You’ll most certainly end up with a system that will be unique. It may be a bullet journal, with all the 4 modules of the original method, nut it could also become something a bit different. Which is totally ok. The whole point is to create a system that works for you and help you dealing with your life and goals. So don’t be afraid of being wrong. Start with the basics and build your ideal system from here.
What if I create a collection that I actually never use?
Just acknowledge that you don’t needed it, head over the next page and move on.
No big deal here. We all have collections in our journals that we thought super useful and end up completely abandoned.
Stopping using a tracker after a few days is alright!
What if I make a mistake on my layout?
Take a deep breath!
That’s ok to make mistakes in your journal. No one’s journal is perfect, and the spreads you’ll come across on social medias (especially Instagram and Pinterest) are picked by their author because they’re good looking. It doesn’t mean that these people (including myself) don’t do mistakes.
If you really can’t bear with the mistake you’ve made, you can try to fix it, using one of these following mini tips:
- cover it with a washi or a sticker that you like
- turn your mistake into a doodle
- highlight it and write a quote related to mistakes to help you deal with it
- use correction fluid
- paste a piece of your notebook’s paper on it and re-do the part of the spread that is bothering you
- paste the 2 pages that you spoiled together to hide them
Hidding mistakes with paperclips
Whether you decide to let it go or try to fix it, mistakes are what makes your journal unique. Everyone has several spreads in his or her journal that they consider as far from perfect. The whole point of bullet journaling isn’t to be perfect and to create pretty layouts. It’s all about building a tool that will help you manage your projects and tasks, and be more intentional about them.
What if I skip a day or two (or three, or a whole week)?
If you’re wondering how others deal with planning slumps, you can go read The Planners series and the posts written by my guests to see how they’re dealing with this.
Skipping days is something that happens to anyone who is using the bullet journal method. Some of us do it more regularly than others, but still, we all skip days in our journals.
That’s perfectly fine, as the whole point of bullet journaling is to adjust your system and practice to your very specific needs. Some days, you’ll take the time to carefully plan in advance, some days, you’ll jot down the tasks as they come to your mind, and some days you won’t even open your notebook at all. Your journal is the reflection of your state of mind. And we don’t always feel like writing things in our notebooks.
Skipping half of the week with no shame.
If at the end of the day, you realize you haven’t use your journal at all, maybe you just didn’t needed it. Even though you haven’t planned any tasks for that day, maybe you’ll take some time to reflect on your day, write down what you’ve done and how was your day. Just to keep track of what happened on this particular day.
And if you don’t feel like writing anything, just let it go and be kind to yourself. You’ll get back at your journal when you’ll need to.
What if I want to start my bullet journal in the middle of the month?
Who said you need to have to wait for the beginning of the next month to start your bullet journal? You can perfectly start it at any time.
Making simple adjustments in the classic bullet journal layouts will allow you to create a monthly spread to plan your month ahead. You have 2 options here:
- The first one is to cut the first days of the month, and start your bullet journal monthly calendar on the day you’re setting it up.
- The second one is to lay down the whole monthly calendar, and split it into 2 sections. Use the first days of the month to log your past events, just as an history of what happened this month. The rest of your monthly calendar is for planning purposes.
As for the future log, you just need to set it starting the month right next the current one. So no problem or adjustments to be made here.
2 ideas to start your bullet journal in the middle of the month
In my opinion, there is not really a “perfect” moment to start a bullet journal. The ideal moment to start setting up your journal and using it is the moment you decide to give the bullet journal method a try. Don’t wait for several weeks to start, and don’t overthink it. Just start where you stand.
What if I don’t use my journal after all and drop it?
Well, that’s all right! That it doesn’t necessarily means that the bullet journal is not for you (and maybe it does).
Take some time to reflect on your experience.
- Why did you start your bullet journal in the first place? Was it because your previous organisation system didn’t work for you? Or maybe you wanted to get back to paper planning with much more flexibility than in a planner? Or you just wanted to try something new?
- What worked for you? What didn’t?– Did you drop your journal because it doesn’t fit your bag or find it to heavy to carry around? You can try to change your notebook size- Did you drop it because you found yourself planning appointments in your phone? Maybe you just need to find the right balance between digital tools and your bullet journal– Did you drop your bullet journal because the original bullet journal layouts don’t seem to fit your needs? Try to hack them and build the layouts that work for you.- Did you drop your notebook because mixing all the content together was confusing? Maybe you just need to find a system to keep your planning spreads and collections apart (like having all your collections at the end of your notebook, or using a disc bound notebook for instance… but that’s only one option among LOADS of others).- Did you drop your bullet journal because it was taking too much time? Look for some minimal bullet journal inspiration
You maybe just need to find the perfect combo of tools to keep going with your bullet journal.
Well, you got my point. If you’re tempted to make the radical decision to put your journal of a shelf and move on to an other organization system, try to identify why you feel like your bullet journal experience is a failure. Even though it doesn’t lead you to try again the bullet journal method, it will probably help you figure out what system could work for you or not.
What are the “what ifs” that are stopping you from starting a bullet journal?
Or just the ones that keep coming up in your practice?