If you’ve ever searched for bullet journaling ideas on Pinterest, or browsed images tagged #bulletjournal on Instagram, then you’ve probably felt bullet journal overwhelm! There are literally hundreds of thousands of styles, pages and ideas to be inspired by. So where do you begin when you’re just starting out, and how do you beat bullet journal overwhelm?
With so many amazing hand drawn layouts, cute illustrations and beautiful hand lettered headings shared all over social media, bullet journaling can certainly seem pretty darn complicated! The good news is, at the heart of bullet journaling is a really simple organisation system, that isn’t too hard to learn.
Whether you’re just getting started, or you’ve been bullet journaling for a while, these tips will help you to get back to basics, keep your journaling productive and beat bullet journal overwhelm.
1. Start with the basics
If too many page options are really overwhelming you, and you can’t get started or don’t feel organised, then it might be a good idea to focus on just the core bullet journal pages.
By core pages I mean:
- 6 month future log
- monthly log
- daily log
Use just these pages, at least until you feel in control. While it can be tempting to add in a myriad of different pages, from fitness trackers to reading logs, the core pages are enough to handle all your basic organisation, planning, note taking and journaling needs.
2. Focus on the system
At the heart of bullet journaling is a really simple, but effective, organisation system. Mastering this system is a great way to beat overwhelm and get started, or simplify your journaling if it has become overwhelming. Don’t feel like you have to tweak the system, or set up unique methods of logging and migrating your tasks, in the beginning. Just get some experience with the basic system, see how it works for you and how it helps you stay organised.
To use the basic bullet journaling system:
- Keep a list of tasks, events and notes in a daily log
- Organise these tasks, events and notes with bullets and signifiers
- Review your task list daily and migrate tasks accordingly
- Include journal entries in your daily log
- Use a future log to plan upcoming events or tasks
To learn more about the bullet journaling system read this post, or visit bulletjournal.com.
After some time practicing with the bullet journaling system you might find ways you can tweak the system to better suit your lifestyle. You’ll now have the confidence, and control over your pages, to do this without feeling overwhelmed.
3. Keep your collections simple and meaningful
Ever tried to set up every single ‘collection’, or custom page, that you see other bullet journalists using? Only to be left feeling completely overwhelmed and unsure how to manage them all? It’s easy to be constantly inspired by how others use their journals; there are SO many amazing pages out there for us to drool over. But the important thing to remember is that your life probably looks a lot different to theirs. Pages that may work well for them, may not be useful to you.
Before starting a collection, or a specific page, in your bullet journal ask yourself how you’ll use that page, and what the benefits will be.
Stick to creating pages that are meaningful to you. You’ll have more fun creating them and the motivation to keep them updated.
4. Make a ‘Collection’ of page ideas
Got a gazillion page ideas swimming around in your head but can’t decide which one to start with? Start with a collection of page ideas! Create a page in your journal and give it a title like ‘Bullet Journal Collection Ideas’ or ‘Pages To Create’. Now you can list all of your ideas and inspiration in one place and dip into the list whenever you have time to create a new page. Getting your ideas out of your head and onto paper will create some space in your mind, reduce feelings of bullet journal overwhelm, and allow you to review each idea and decide which ones are worth your time.
5. Go minimal
It might not seem like it (especially when you scroll through Pinterest or Instagram) but fancy banners, doodles and hand-lettered headings are NOT essential for successful bullet journaling. It’s totally ok to keep your pages simple and minimal. If you haven’t started a bullet journal because you’re worried you won’t be able to draw your own banners and cute icons, then stop worrying now! Start your journal and keep your pages completely free of decoration. By keeping your pages simple and minimal you’ll have more time to focus on using your bullet journal as an organisation tool. Once you feel confident that your journaling is working for you, start adding in a border here or a banner there…but only if you want to!
Tip: printable templates and stickers make drawing and decorating your bullet journal pages a whole lot easier. Sign up to access my free Planner Lovers Resource Library where you’ll find a bunch of cool planner templates and accessories to download.
6. Avoid comparison
Your bullet journal is uniquely yours, so be proud of everything you create, capture and log! There is really no right or wrong way to bullet journal. Avoid the temptation to compare your work to that of others, particularly on social media where images are often unauthentic. Each individual person brings a different set of skills to their bullet journaling. For some, bullet journaling is a way to express their creativity, for others it is a highly structured productivity tool. Some use it for journaling and memory keeping and others a notebook for their studies. Whatever your bullet journaling goals, it’s important to embrace your own unique style and skill set!
Say goodbye to bullet journal overwhelm for good!
Take control of your planning and create a journal that really works for you. Keep it simple and be proud of what you create. Say goodbye to bullet journal overwhelm for good! Which of the above tips do you think will work best for you? What can you do today to get started, and continue bullet journaling with confidence?
Reading this was very helpful! I was just introduced into the Bullet Journal world and it can be quite overwhelming to get started. I like the options you listed because it seems so simple to get started! Thank you for this 🙂
Tracey Collins says
Hi! Yes it can be so overwhelming, especially when you’re just starting out. I love to keep my bullet journaling simple, just including the pages I really need. It has helped me feel so much more organised and productive. I’m glad you found my tips helpful and I hope you enjoy getting your journal started! Good luck x
Helene Massart says
Hi Tracey! I discovered your website today! Love it! I am a high school teacher and we will have an “enrichment day” very soon (kids get to come to school for fun, creative sessions. Each teacher is responsible for putting together a mini-session where they can “teach” the kids something new). I will do my very first BUJO session! Super excited. I have asked the students to bring their own notebook so we can start working on their BUJO. Your template will help immensely! Thank you!!!
Tracey Collins says
Hi Helen, what lucky students! And what a great teacher you are for organising a bullet journaling session. I hope my templates add some inspiration and your students enjoy learning how to create their first BuJo! Good luck!