Circle of the 4 Notebooks #2
I’m super happy to release this second post of the Circle of the 4 Notebooks about a topic I wanted to write about for a long time now. Today, I’m talking about mistakes and failed attempts in a Bullet Journal. Because the amazing pictures of bullet journals that can be found on Instagram or Pinterest are not showing everything that happens in a notebook. Bullet journals are full of spreads that we don’t show and that we would rather forget. All the bullet journals have a hidden side that we’re not so proud of.
For me, there are 2 main kinds of failed attempts in a bullet journal: the pages that we don’t find pretty enough (let’s call them aesthetic failures) and the spreads that just didn’t serve their purpose (or functional failures). I’m giving you a tour of my journals to show you some of those spreads and share some tips to get over failed attempts in your own bujo that can turn out to be a traumatic experience (not exaggerating at all of course).
I have to say that aesthetic failures are very few in my bullet journal. I’m not proud of my first weekly and monthly layouts, and I still don’t use stamps after I ruined several spreads with them.
My only golden rule is to to NEVER tear off pages even if I hate them. I’m definitely a control freak and I’m obsessed with perfection but I’m trying to let things go and better accept failed attempts. So tearing the page off would of course erase the mistake, but also giving up the chance to deal with it and learn from it.
An empty weekly log in my bullet journal – I wasn’t satisfied of the stamping and didn’t use it in the end.
If the pages I wish I could forget are very few, it’s mainly because I can rely on my favorite writing tool to help me. Since my very beginnings of my bullet journal adventures, I use an erasable gel pen (mine comes from Muji) and it seriously saved a LOT of my spreads.
Of course, the ink is not very black, and yes, I may regret my choice if I unfortunately forget my bullet journal in a oven, but it’s seriously worth it. Being able to erase any mistake I make is how I define magic!
These pens are pure wonder and I highly recommend them for anyone afraid of mistakes and erasures. Some brands are actually releasing erasable gel pens lately, following the trend that Pilot initiated with the Frixion pen.
But sometimes, the failed attempts are almost impossible to fix. In this case, my one and only solution is simple yet highly effective: paperclip. I hate coming across an ugly, ruined page when I flip through my bullet journal. So when a spread is seriously messed up, I just make it stick closed temporarily with a paperclip, and give myself some time to get over my mistake.
It also happened that I used some masking tape to cover un-erasable mistakes.
In this case, smudges from a failed attempt to stamp something.
I’m always impressed by all the beautiful, filled trackers that I can see on social medias. Despite all my efforts, I NEVER get to finish one of those. My old journals are featuring a lot of trackers that I forgot about the moment I finished to set them up, and setting good habits is really something I’m struggling with.
But I choose to find this ok. I now know, after tons of failed attempts (trying yearly, monthly and weekly systems), that trackers are just not for me. These past few months, I decided to focus on one habit I really want to work on, instead of having an endless list of things to track.
Trackers are a pet peeve of mine: I never get to finish them, and I honestly don’t know what to do
with the collected data. I therefore decided to drop them for good.
My journal are full of these spreads that I created and never actually used. It happened a lot that I just wanted to anticipate what I thought would be my needs, or complexified something that could have remain straight to the point. It’s particularly true for a certain amount of spreads that I never refer to or update or for task list layouts that are still empty after months (such as the one on the cover picture: I never filled this quarterly calendar that was meant to help me organise my tasks week by week).
On the opposite, I also have spreads that I should have created but never set-up. Some blank pages of my journals are stuffed with sticky note of shopping list that I wrote in a hurry and should have cleanly migrated in my bullet journal.
Lists of goals I never reach
It’s from far the functional failure I have the hardest time to deal with.
The end of the month often comes sooner that I realise and I end up with a list of goals and tasks with a lot of open lines. But it’s still one of the main advantage of the bullet journal system: every task that is not done can be migrated on the next monthly log.
So I’m slowly learning to set achievable goals and to accept that life can happen. Sometimes, despite the efficiency of the bullet journal system, events we couldn’t have foreseen affect our plans
Finishing the month with not a single goal that have been achieved and a task list that I barely started.
I lost the count of the pages of my old (and current) journals that have proved them useless or that have revealed some weaknesses in my planning system. But the bullet journal allows these mistakes, and it’s always possible to make the system evolve to better suit your needs. It’s as simple as turning the page; making a review of what didn’t work and try something else.
I never lose. I either win or learn – Nelson Mandela
We all make mistakes, big or little, and we all mess spreads up in our journals. We all have pages we are somehow a bit ashamed of because they’re not “instagramable” or because they remind us of our mistakes. But there’s no perfection with the bullet journal (and actually with anything).
And the whole point is certainly not perfection. The point is to be able to accept mistakes and learn from them. in two years of bullet journaling, let me tell you that I failed often and learned a LOT.
I learned that stamping is not as easy as Youtube shows you, I learned that task lists can be migrated (and it’s ok to do so), I learned that we can turn the page and start fresh if we don’t like how our attempt turned out. I learned that failure just an other way to make progress.
If you can read French, I highly recommend you to head on over the other Circle of the 4 Notebooks members’ blog
posts to see their thoughts and tips about mistakes in their bullet journals!