Using a bullet journal can be helpful in so many ways and yet it is a habit that is sometimes hard to stick with. Looking for tricks to stay on the path of the bujo? Here are 15 tips that will help you cement and sustain your bullet journal habit.
1. Keep your journal in sight & travel light
Keep your bujo on your kitchen table, in your purse, at your desk, or next to the coffee pot - wherever you will see it and remember to use it. Taking your bullet journal with you wherever you go will also help ensure you use it. Travel only with the bare essentials and leave your fancier bujo accessories at home for more in depth journaling sessions. Make placing your journal in your bag, purse, or hand part of your departure routine and keep it close throughout the day.
2. Build planning into your day
The act of sitting down with your bujo and organizing your affairs is focusing and it forces you to think through the steps of how to accomplish your daily goals. Include "Plan" on your daily task list, at the start or end of your daily schedule, allowing time to prepare for or reflect upon the current day or get ready for the next. You could also work in a small habit tracker on your weekly layout and include "plan" as one of the habits. Tracking your planning will help you notice patterns as well as keep yourself accountable.
3. Store your pen with your journal
How many times have you gone to write something in your journal but didn't have a pen? That's a missed opportunity right there. Find a pen you like and store it in a pen loop attached to your journal. If your journal doesn't have a pen loop, you can make one or buy them separately.
4. Keep it simple when you need to
If you have a busy week coming up, keep it simple. Don't task yourself with an artsy or complicated layout. Some weeks are just a messy scribbled list and that's okay.
5. Value the process over the end result
Sometimes I make my weekly layouts and then never look at them again; other times my pages are a messy reflection of life. Either way, neither, I feel, is a waste or fail. I sat down and mindfully thought about my week. I wrote appointments, thought through projects, sculpted out time for myself, etc. Just the act of writing helped me remember, focus my efforts, and empty my mind. Regardless of how it looks or to what extent something was ultimately used, often the exercise itself is of the greatest value.
6. If you like to be creative, art in your journal
Creating visual treasures in your journal help draw some back to their journal. If you like to art, art. You don't have to be good at it and you don't have to share. Your journal is for you - be it a place to practice, decompress, or showcase your skills - make what you want of it.
7. Start with dailies
If you're new to bullet journaling, consider starting small and use only dailies rather than feel obligated to create weekly and/or monthly layouts that you may not use. Daily layouts simply allow you to get into the habit of putting your brain and your life on paper. Start small. Start scratchy. On each page, write the day and date, then list all the balls in the air for the day. Give yourself a separate page to jot down future events, so you can focus primarily on the current day. If you find over time that it leaves you with lots of empty space, either fill it with reflection, motivation, or creative expression, or switch up to weekly spreads instead, which provide less space for the tasks and appointments for each day and show multiple days in one go. Still feel at a loss for what to put on the page? Add a habit tracker, a mini monthly calendar, or switch up to using only monthly spreads instead. Continue to shrink or expand according to your needs and eventually, you'll hit your stride.
8. Habit bundle your bujo
Habit bundling is a fabulous concept where you pair one thing you LOVE with another thing you are trying to love. For me, this LOVE thing is drinking coffee or listening to Outlander on audible or being creative. I pair these super groovy things with acts I am attempting to make habits.
For example, I only watch Amanda Rach Lee's You Tube videos when I'm running on the treadmill. Pair planning with your favorite jazz music, a special cup or tea or while defusing your favorite essential oil. It works - I swear.
9. Note when you feel disorganized
You know that feeling when you are mentally juggling too much and you feel like your head is going to explode? Stop and open your bujo, commit all that noise to the page, and quiet your mind. Lean on your journal. Let it save the day. If you use it, it will carry all the things so your mind doesn't have to.
10. Try different layouts
When your bullet journal has gone stale try to switch up the layouts you use. There are a ton of variations of daily, weekly and monthly layouts to try. Some will work for you and some won't. Variety is the spice of life, so try something new. You can find a ton of bullet journal ideas on this Bullet Journal Ideas Pinterest Board.
11. Work towards rewards
Reward yourself for consistently using your bullet journal. Did you make a plan for 5 out 7 days? Did you fill out more than half of your monthly habit tracker? Treat yo' self. Take a bath with your favorite book. Or schedule a coffee with your bestie. Purchase that pen, tape, or special journal accessory you've been lusting after. Positive reinforcement will help to solidify the habit.
12. Know thyself
The key to using your bullet journal is setting up a journal that assists you with your life. You want to create a journal that works for you, not the other way around. If monthly mood trackers simply do not work for you, don't continue to make them. If you know that you can work a weekly like a boss but fall down with dailies, don't use dailies. Your journal is yours and only yours. Make it work for you. In addition, we all have a Big Why behind our bullet journaling. For some it holds all of the details, for others it is a creative outlet, and for yet others it provides space for the hustle and bustle schedule that is life. When you find yourself slacking in your journal, remind yourself of the reason you started in the first place.
13. One place, all things
Yes, a bullet journal is a great way to customize your own planner. Prefer to start your week on Monday? You can do that. Tasks on the left, appointments on the right? Yep, you're making it, so you get to decide how it looks. However, a bullet journal can also be where you jot down that running list of books you want to read, plan your next vacation, or think through that difficult discussion you need to have with your boss. The more you go to use it, not just as a planner, but as an extension of your own mind (replacing all the post-its, scratch pads, lists, and more), the more likely you'll be to continue using it on a regular basis for planning too.
14. Accept incompletion and imperfection
Did you miss a day or a week? Maybe you made an amazing mood tracker but only filled in two days? Or better yet, added two Tuesdays to this week. Do yourself a favor and don't forgo using your journal for fear it won't be perfect. Because it won't be. There will be jagged lines, misspelled words, smears, smudges, and months missing the 4th entirely - because you are human. The downside to all of the glorious bujo inspiration on social media is that it can set up unrealistic expectations. As someone who posts that eye candy, I can tell you that the page before the one I photographed and shared is often all jacked up. Allow yourself some grace and adopt an "Oh well" attitude. Jump back in wherever you are, without shame or guilt and just move forward.
15. Connect with the community
Connecting with like minded folks provides validation, inspiration and reinforcement. If you are looking for a Facebook group where you can ask questions, share successes and post photos, please consider joining us over at Bullet Journaling Tips and Tricks. MoxieDori hosts this kind, generous, and calm group of over 19,000 people and we'd love to see you there!