I started bullet journaling a while back and found an unexpected benefit: it helps my mental health. This is in spite of the fact that many of my pages are a scribbly mess. My ruler slips, I smear the ink pad, I lose track of the dots and sometimes stamp upside down. I’m still deciding on which spreads work best for me. Also my handwriting is sloppy. (Though if I were to slow down and write more mindfully that would probably help.)
It sounds kind of chaotic, but really it isn’t. For the first time in my life I’ve found a system that helps my mental health and actually works for my ADD addled mind. If I don’t have a spread for something that pops into my mind, I have designated “brain dump” pages where I record random thoughts. (This often happens during a yoga session!) This gives my mind a rest from trying to remember everything that dances across it on any given day.
Plus I’m actually getting stuff done. Getting the noise out of my head has greatly reduced my anxiety levels which trigger my dystonia and IBS symptoms (which typically happen at the same time.)
And one other thing…playing with paper, washi tape and pens makes me happy. It gives me something to focus on besides dystonia and chronic pain.
Now just today my rambling mind started to compute if the bullet journal of choice, a Leuchtturm costs about $20 and I have to get a new one every four or five months at the rate I’m going, isn’t that pricey compared to a regular planner? (If creating a bullet journal stresses you out, check out The Happy Planner. You can still do simple bullet journaling it and you can be as creative as you like.)
You do have to spend a few dollars on journaling supplies, but there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself first, especially when your mental health is at stake. You could do it in a cheap notebook from Target but the sensory feeling of good paper does help.
How to Get Started With Bullet Journals
You can spend a lot of time reading all about using bullet journals and watch a ton of YouTube videos to get ideas. But you aren’t going to get a feel for what will work for you until you start to give journaling a try for yourself.
You can read my Beginner’s Guide to Simple Bullet Journals here!
It’s okay to start with an inexpensive notebook and just try it out. Follow the basic bullet journal layout with an index, a key and a monthly spread. Track your daily tasks and see how it feels. Add in a few lists or collections and get a feel for what type of information is useful to you and what isn’t. Try trackers and various other hacks you come across and determine what works for you.
Keep It Simple
When you first start out bullet journaling, you may be tempted to write down and track every single thing. You may have lots of ideas for collections. It’s okay to start out with a bang but if you can’t sustain it, you may wind up feeling like a failure. Don’t over commit and track too much! The bullet journal will just become One More Thing To Do. Remember it’s a tool for wellness. Start small and figure out what works and what will be sustainable for you to write down and track.
Don’t Be Afraid To Rip Pages Out
You’re not in school any more! If you find that something isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to rip it out. Maybe you thought that keeping a weekly reading collection was a good idea, but you couldn’t keep up with it?
Go ahead and rip out that page!
If your overall layout for your bullet journal isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to toss it and start over. This is exactly it can be a great idea to just start out with a small and inexpensive notebook. Get another one and begin again. With a little practice you’ll find what works for you.
Make Your Bullet Journal Work For YOU!
Expect to do some testing and tweaking, and changing stuff around until you come up with something that works well for you. We all lead different lives and our brains work differently. Our bullet journals should reflect that.
Keep working on it until you come up with a system that feels natural. You’ll know it when you get there. The end goal is to have a bullet journal setup that makes your live easier and helps you stay organized without feeling that writing in it is a chore.
For me, I ultimately went with a Happy Planner because I couldn’t keep up with the traditional bullet journal page layouts and I got stressed planning them out! My life is such that I need to know what’s going on in the coming weeks and months, track veterinary and self care, etc. At this busy season of my life, it’s easier to have the work done for me. I just use the grid format to bullet journal as before.
However you journal, when it comes to your mental health and self care, it pays to go the extra mile if you have to.