What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Bullet Journaling

What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Bullet Journaling

This year marks my third year of bullet journaling and in those 3 years, I have definitely learned a lot. So I was thinking the other day and asking so many questions to myself about this whole journey. I don't want to make this a huge deal but bullet journaling can be a huge lifetime project. It can seem intimidating if you have never done anything like it.

But that's about it, your bullet journal shouldn't be a huge source of anxiety. (This is kind of the first lesson, though.)

I love creating lists, I enjoy the idea of arts and crafts, having lots of hobbies and keeping track of anything and everything in my life.

My bullet journal is a great all-in-one place for me to note down important dates, keep track of habits, brainstorm, reflect on what's important on my day to day basis, practice gratitude and destress with doodling. The list could go on and on. 

I am currently on bullet journal number 3 — learned a lot since I completed my second bullet journal yet I can't help but wonder if there are things I would have done differently knowing the information I didn't have back then.

I thought about the things I have learned and figured maybe my learnings will be helpful to anyone who is either already keeping a bullet journal or thinking of starting one. It's going to be long and a bit personal. So make yourself comfortable and take everything with a grain of salt <3

What I wish I knew before I started bullet journaling:

  • It doesn't have to be anything that anyone says it has to be

There is no right or wrong way to do it. The bullet journal is yours and you are in charge of making it work only for you. It's going to be different to anyone else's because it's based on what works for you and what you want out of your own bullet journal. You are not obligated to follow the original system of bullet journaling because why would you. Create your own rules, system and recipe for bullet journaling and be proud of it.

  • It's totally fine to not use your bullet journal

I used to feel guilty for abandoning my bullet journal for days maybe weeks. But I am so glad it didn't bother me anymore because you will spend so much time on your bullet journal in the first few weeks. Then you will forget about it for days and panic. 

It's normal. It's a cycle at this point. 

Find your own rhythm. It's going to take a while to fall into the routine of using your bullet journal regularly. You don't have to use your bullet journal every single minute of every day. Sometimes parting ways with your bullet journal for a while could be the right thing to do to improve the quality of your life.

  • It's okay if you don't want to increase productivity

When we're talking about bullet journaling, it's often tied with productivity, efficiency, and output. It kind of irks me. What if you don't want any of that? Well, let me tell you, it's totally okay!

Nowadays, I am fine with my bullet journal being a nice place for me to organize and keep myself in check because it helps a lot with my anxiety. It's definitely a massive part of my self-care routine every day. Having a space to plan and draw at the same time has given me great clarity of mind.

  • You don't have to share it with everyone if you don't want to

This was me 2 years ago. While it's awesome to share your spreads with each other online and be part of this community together, it can feel a bit vulnerable. Your bullet journal is basically your brain poured out into a notebook. I know how scary it can be to show it to somebody. If you feel uncomfortable, you are allowed to keep it private and there's nothing wrong with that.

For example, I do have some spreads in my bullet journal that I keep away from the public eye just because I don't feel comfortable sharing them. Plus, I think it's always good to have a thing or two that's only for you to look at and appreciate.

  • It doesn't have to be anything like you saw on Instagram 

Admittedly, my bullet journal falls in between minimalist and somewhat artistic. I am always so inspired by beautiful, artistic themes on Instagram but I just can't be full-on artistic like that because that's not how it works out for me. 

So, find whatever works for you and stick to it, whether it's minimal or over the top. I always appreciate some open spaces and dainty arts in my bullet journal because I love it. The beauty of the system is its flexibility to work for anyone. Don't give up and don't get too intimidated by Instagram.

  • No, you don't need all of those pens

I would say invest in a few good pens but don't go overboard. I have a pretty serious problem with this because I tend to buy bullet journal supplies in a ridiculous amount every time. For example, I need a new fineliner because I am running out but I will end up with 5 new fineliners instead. Even if they're dirt cheap, I don't need them all. You don't them all. 

Having this many pens is not necessary. Sure, it gives you options and yes it gives you a reason to buy more of that pretty acrylic pen pots to display them in. But seriously, I cannot use them all. I just can't. Try not to get too hung up on them and it's really not that important to have a huge stationery collection.

  • Calligraphy requires practice

And not some expensive pens and paper. I learned to create faux calligraphy when I first started out — got myself a cheap black gel pen, wrote a few random words and thicken the down strokes. Works every time. You don't need expensive brush pens or anything to do calligraphy. And yes, I practice my calligraphy every single day. It's one of my favorite pastimes!

  • Mistakes are a part of bullet journaling

We're human. And we are going to make mistakes in our bullet journal. I feel like we're so frustrated with mistakes because we're so used to not showing our flaws and how people will perceive us because of the mistakes that are in our bullet journal.

Most of the time people won't even notice. 

I am so done being the worst critic of my work. I am just going to embrace the flaws and move on. Chances are people are going to love whatever you make, mistakes or not. It really is not that bad. And you can always cover it up! My favorite ways to cover up my mistakes are definitely a bunch of white gel pens, washi tapes and double-sided adhesive and stick two pages together so it's like you'd never know that there was something wrong.

Bonus! Little things to consider:

  • You don't need to buy hundreds worth of stationery to start out
  • You don't have to have the trendiest supplies
  • You can start your bullet journal at any time
  • Don't compare yourself with others 
  • It can be time-consuming only IF you want it to
  • You are on a journey — just enjoy the ride!

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What are the things you wish you knew about bullet journaling before you started?


  1. Absolutely agree with you. Journaling is personal to me and I believe there is no need to be perfect.
    It should be mental clarifying not a burden.

    ain xx

  2. When I started, I watched some YouTube videos, and some were so artistic that I knew I wouldn't be able to do that! I use mine more as a diary and for lists etc. I always love seeing your layouts, and I've said it before, if you brought out a bullet journal, I'd snap one up in a heartbeat! x


    1. YOU'RE BEING TOO KIND! Thank you so much, Siobhan! xx

  3. I haven't had a bullet journal before, but I've always wanted to start. For some reason I never have, but this post has made me want to make a start. I feel like comparison is what put me off, but I don't need to compare it to anyones, since it's personal like you say xx

    Hannah | https://luxuryblush.co.uk/

    1. Thank you so much! I wish you all the best and hope it all goes well for you, Hannah xx

  4. I've always loved seeing your spreads! These are some great tips too. I keep a very basic journal of lists and things, but I should try making it a little more creative.

    Eileen | yesmissy.com

    1. Thank you so much, Eileen! I love a good basic and minimalism journal too! It's like an appreciation of space kinda <3