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Bullet journals are amazing! They help with creativity, they help you organize your life, and they are so unique! While there are many articles out there praising bullet journals, there aren’t enough that focus on why people struggle with bullet journals.
If people aren’t aware of what is causing their struggle with bullet journals, they are likely to fail for two reasons. First, they aren’t mindful of what’s causing the problem. Second, they don’t have the skill to overcome it!
This post focuses on some of the most common pitfalls that people struggle with in regard to using a bullet journal, along with some solutions to work through them. Many of the points contain additional bullet journal articles that you should check out to help build your skills.
You Don’t Use Your Bullet Journal
Ashlyn over at Blue Nittany always has a lot of creative ideas!
Check out her Instagram if you ever feel stuck!
This is plain and simple. If you aren’t using it, you aren’t benefiting.
Lack of use could be laziness. You don’t really feel like maintaining your planner. It’s extra work, you don’t have enough time, and you’d rather do something more fun.
From personal insight though, I’d be willing to bet that you aren’t lazy. Maybe you struggle with how you structure your time and energy, but that’s quite a bit different than lazing around purposely.
Alternatively, maybe you struggle with expectations. Or maybe you lack the skill to maintain your bullet journal.
If you lack the skills, make sure to read these five tips about keeping successful planners. They apply to bullet journals, too!
If you don’t understand bullet journal terminology and you are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data, I’ve got you covered. Take a moment to read this Bullet Journal Glossary for overviews about common concepts!
You Aren’t Learning From The Past
Brilliant quote by Aimée on her Instagram!
I think a lot of people tend to create their bullet journal, fill it in, and never look back at it again.
Don’t do this!!!
Take the opportunity to learn more about yourself. Don’t be ignorant. If you’ve created all these trackers and aren’t reviewing them, you could be missing blatantly obvious challenges that you struggle with.
One awesome way you can learn more about yourself is to do monthly reviews at the end of each month. If you aren’t sure what that is, make sure to read this article here.
You Don’t Make Adjustments
Make sure to review your trackers!
Gorgeous tracker example by Somo on her Instagram page!
This takes the previous point a step farther.
Trackers and collections are there to help you learn more about yourself. Whether it’s just tracking your habits or monitoring your goals, you are learning more about how you operate.
So you learn from the past. You see what is working, and what isn’t working.
Acknowledging that is a great step, but you now need to make an adjustment and change it. If you don’t, expect struggles with bullet journals to continue.
If a system isn’t working, and you know that you’re making changes, you need to take the moments and adjust them.
You Copy Other People’s Goals
Copy the design, but don’t copy goals if they aren’t your goals!
Lovely spread by Andrea on her Instagram!
Instead of people taking the time to use their planners to better themselves, they immediately copy content from other planners instead.
There may be a small likelihood that your needs are similar to the needs of the person you are copying. More likely, you’re creating a lot of unneccessary spreads in your planner. You also may be missing critical spreads that you need (and haven’t explored yet).
It’s very important you take the time to work out what your goals are. It doesn’t mean you can’t use the layout of the spread you admire, either! Just change their goals to match your needs instead.
If you aren’t sure how to set up goals, read here about setting up long term goals in your planner.
You Don’t Have the Proper Tools
In all honesty, this is probably one of the most minor points of the entire article. The best part of bullet journals is that you create one with literally anything. You can do fantastic things with a blue ballpoint point and a 98 cent notebook.
However, occasionally we all need a little inspiration. It’s amazing how a new pen can inspire new art, even if the joy is temporary.
So if you just need a boost of inspiration and motivation, nothing wrong with buying something.
If you want to know what I love most when it comes to creating bullet journals, here’s an article about my 7 favorite tools in my bullet journal.
Making Bullet Journal Spreads Too Complicated
Spreads can be pretty and straightforward!
Especially this spending log from @thystudies!
There are some beautiful, detailed spreads out there in the cyber world. Whether it’s intricate doodles, or funky spread layouts, it’s clear that there are some very talented bullet journalists.
On the other hand, some bullet journal spreads are very thorough, with a lot of information.
First, not everybody is going to have amazing talent for large, intricate doodles.
Not everybody needs thorough spreads.
If you’re feeling a sense of dread while creating your layouts, maybe you need to take a step back and look at the overall picture. And then ask yourself “Is all of this really necessary to meet my needs?” If the answer is yes, you will struggle with bullet journals.
So take a moment and check out this post about learning how to simplify your bullet journal!
You Don’t Have a Plan
I think it’s important to have a plan when setting bullet journals. No plan generally means you may struggle with bullet journals more than if you had a plan.
Yet there are SO many components when it comes to bullet journals. Additionally, the sky is the limit to how you plan them. It’s smart to know what you are getting into because of how much information is out there.
While this site is a fabulous resource, I highly recommend these other posts written by other bullet journalists to help with developing a plan.
How to Start a Bullet Journal: Kailyn creates a very simplified but effective set up for her bullet journal. Great resource for beginners!
How I Used a Bullet Journal to Combat Procrastination: This article by Infinite Planner specifically works out a plan for working through procrastination.
A Walk Through My Bullet Journal: This post by Scattered Fashionista is a lovely view through how she plans out her bullet journal. There are tons of these posts on Pinterest, and they can be really helpful.
You Don’t Work on it Daily
Trackers like this one from Kat take only a few minutes to log!
Check out her Instagram for more ideas!
Working on a planner doesn’t have to be an all time consuming task.
But I believe that everybody is capable of finding five minutes of their time to review the day ahead. Whether it’s jotting down a few notes about your day, or writing out a to do list, you can find a little time to do something.
If you are only working on it once a week, it may explain why you struggle with bullet journals. So simplify if you’re doing too much. Start small, and work from there.
NOTE: If you miss a day here or there, no sweat. In fact, if you miss a week, no sweat. Even a month. Life is always more important than your planner. Your needs come first.
However, that’s not an excuse to not do it forever, either.
Great friends like Liddy inspire me to keep going!
Check out her amazing Instagram here!
If you aren’t familiar with maintaining a planner regularly and struggle with consistency, you may find some challenges initially with your new planning habit.
Accountability is one unique way you can overcome your struggle with bullet journals while you’re learning a new habit. By having somebody (a friend, a therapist, a support group, social media) that supports you and encourages you to keep moving forward.
You can create accountability in many ways! Here are a couple of examples.
Create a Bullet Journal Group in Your Community
Find some like-minded people in your community, find some space, and enjoy this hobby together! You can all bring your own supplies and share it with the other attendees.
Share Your Bullet Journal with your Therapist
Bullet journals are an amazing tool to help improve your mental health, so make it part of your care.
At the start of each session, review your trackers and weekly data with your therapist. That way when they ask ‘So, how are you doing?’, you have something to fall back on.
Even better, you can even do therapy homework in your bullet journal.
Start a Social Media Account Dedicated to Bullet Journals
Or join a social media group dedicated to bullet journals!
If you really love doing bullet journals and want to share your work, get on Instagram! Or join Bullet Journal Junkies on Facebook.
Sometimes just having a place where people rely on seeing your posts can be inspiration can help motivate you to keep going.
You Think Missing a Day or Entry is Failure
Secret: I didn’t fill out any of this. But I had surgery!
No need to quit, just keep going!
You will eventually come across a day where you are not able to keep up This is a normal struggle with bullet journals.
Regardless of the reason, whether legitimate or not, a lot of people tend to panic when this happens.
I used to panic frequently when I’d stop for a day because stopping for a day generally signaled the end of whatever I was trying to do. Or at least, it felt like it did.
But the best part about bullet journals is that if you stop for a period of time, it’s extremely easy to start where you left off.
If you are missing days and entries because you find that what you’ve created is no longer relevant, definitely read this post about what to do when your bullet journal stops working.
Not Being Willing to Quit
It’s not actually over, but I thought it was fitting!
Keeping a bullet journal should mostly be an enjoyable experience. Yes, it involves work. But if you are truly dreading maintaining your planner and finding it’s not offering you any sort of benefit, this may not be for you.
If you struggle with bullet journals, most solutions revolve around taking the time to make adjustments. Whether it’s finding accountability to create a new habit, or trying something new for another month, it can a few months to find your groove in the bullet journal world.
If you’re new to bullet journals, I hope that you take the time to try new things. Simplify. Research your spreads. Make a plan.
If you want tips to succeed straight to your inbox, please make sure to subscribe to my email list!
Heck, you can even contact me with questions. I’m happy to be of any assistance if you’d like some input prior to quitting.
And if you find yourself putting in all this effort, no luck, there is no shame in quitting. In fact, way to try something new! I commend you for your effort.
It’s Natural to Struggle with Bullet Journals
People naturally show off their best work. For every 2 people who show a mistake or discuss their challenges, you have 98 people who are showing you their best work. But if you took the time to ask people about their struggles, I’m sure many would disclose something that challenges them.
Make sure to read the articles that connect to each of the struggles if you haven’t already. Each one addresses multiple components and teaches skills to plan your bullet journal mindfully.
Did you discover what struggles you have in your bullet journal? Or are you still trying to figure out what’s going wrong? I’d love to help! Either drop a note in the comments, and I can respond to you!
Or connect with me on my Contact Me page! I can work with you personally to overcome your challenges.
No matter what, you will find a solution that works for you!
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