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7 Lessons I Learned from My First Bullet Journal ®

At the beginning of 2016, I dove head first into using the Bullet Journal ® method for my daily planning needs. Now over a year later, I’m still using this method and … loving it!

I’ve been asked a lot for an update on my Bullet Journal ®.

If you missed the other posts I’ve done, you might want to check them out first:

Over the last year and a half of using my journal, I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error, ups and down, wins and failures. But in the end, I feel like I’ve really found my groove with it, and I truly love my bullet journal (just like I thought, and hoped, I would!).

Overall, I think there are about seven lessons that I’ve learned in the last year and a half that I think would be helpful to share with you – especially for those of you still on the fence, or just discovering the bullet journal method.

By the way, if you prefer a video for this sort of information, then scroll to the bottom of this post. I’ve linked a video from my YouTube channel sharing these seven lessons from the last year. If video isn’t your thing, then keep reading!

7 Lessons I Learned from My First Bullet Journal ®

1. You learn by doing.

When you first start your Bullet Journal ®, you’ll likely imitate a lot of all the amazing things you pinned on Pinterest or saved on YouTube. However, as you use your Bullet Journal ® you will find what truly fits your style and your needs.

It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong if you stop doing something you thought you loved when you first started. That’s bullet journaling! It’s fluid, creative, and malleable.

Sort of like routines fitting into your day without the restriction of time, your Bullet Journal ® fits into your planning needs becoming exactly what you need it to become as seasons of life change for you.

2. Old habits die hard.

Even though you’ve 100% bought into the Bullet Journal ® method, you’ll likely have a die off season. Old habits die hard. Like, really, really hard.

Sometimes you just have to be brave and eliminate something that you think you need like I did when I stopped creating my own “months at a glance” each month. I grew so frustrated because I realized that I was doing a lot of work only to have my Bullet Journal ® look just like my daily planner.

I loved my daily planner (I kept going back to it like a baby blanket), but it had its limitations for me and the way I think. Eventually, I realized I just needed time to shed old habits and mold my journal into my true needs.

So, don’t be afraid to try the Bullet Journal® if it intrigues you just because you think you’re a perfectionist. We all have habits we could do to let go of.

3. It’s okay to start with a cheap journal.

Some people will say that having the right tools from the start really matters. It doesn’t. The Bullet Journal ® method isn’t about a special kind of journal.

My cheap Walmart journal worked JUST FINE for over a year until it was full. I even used my daily planner as a semi-bullet journal for a time until I finally had time to buy myself a new journal.

4. A Leuchtturm is worth the investment.

After discovering that I truly did love the Bullet Journal ® method, I decided to invest in a Leuchtturm 1917 Hardcover Dotted Journal, and I have to say it is 100% worth it.

There are many styles of the Leuchtturm journal, but dotted is definitely my style. Lines are just too restrictive for me. I can’t seem to doodle with lines in the way. The grid style just reminds me of a graph and the statistics classes I despised in undergrad.

The dotted Leuchtturm 1917 is large enough to give me plenty of space for being creative while still being small enough to throw in my purse and carry along with me wherever I go.

I confess going any other route in the future journal-wise will be difficult. I’m a Leuchtturm fan, no doubt.

5. Choosing to use simple writing tools is just fine.

There are a lot of tools available for making your bullet journal simply amazing, but I’ve found simple pens and a small set of colored pencils suffice for my needs.

Summer Bucket List in Bullet Journal

This year I’ve really transitioned to a more simple black and (off) white approach to things. Most days I stick with my journal and my Precise V5 Rolling Ball Pen, Extra Fine. If I want to highlight something, I usually just box it in and use colored pencils to highlight it on the page.

6. There is no need to “worry” about migrating your many collections.

About mid-way through my first Bullet Journal ®, I started worrying that I was going to spend “all this time” creating collections only to have to re-write them when I came to the end of a journal.

Alas, I’ve found that if I need old collections, I can just go back to the previous journal. However, mostly? I’ve not needed them again. They served their purpose, and I’ve moved on.

7. My journal is like my writing desk, filled with notes and souvenirs.

Keeping a Bullet Journal ® has been wonderful for recording little moments to remember.

I’ve used my journal to plan birthday parties, write little poems inspired by a flower handed to me from a toddler, draw when I’m inspired, and exercise my creative gifts from the Lord.

The Bullet Journal ® isn’t just about planning. It’s about recording the moments that matter even before I realize how important those moments truly are. I know it will be fun to look back on in the years to come.

Watch the Video!

What about you? Have you created a Bullet Journal ®? What have you learned since starting yours? I would love to hear from you in the comments!






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  1. Hi Leigh Ann,
    I have never left a eeply to a blog before but this blog and your first blog about bullet journals have made a huge difference in my stress levels and being more efficient. I bought a moleskin journal in February and just like yours, mine journal is a mishmash of to do lists and memories. It looks nothing like any bullet journal on pinterest but it’s not a competition but a tool to free up time to serve our good God by guarding our minds with peace and being orderly like Him.

  2. Hi! It was your videos that convinced me to start a bullet journal. And I absolutely love it! I often find myself with “journal envy,” looking at other’s journals and wishing mine was as beautiful and artistic. I have to remind myself that my journal isn’t a work of art on display for folks to see. It is mine alone. If I feel pressure to make it extra beautiful, I just won’t use it and it becomes a chore.
    One thing I have thought about doing is having two bullet journals. One for my collections and lists that I come back to over and over…and don’t want to move to the new journal each year (like passwords, packing lists, etc)…..and then a bullet journal with my daily lists, calendar, etc..
    I know you mentioned that you don’t feel the need to move your collections, but this was something I was considering. Love the blog and thank you for sharing!

  3. Hi Leigh Ann, I have been using a bullet journal for about a year as well. I find that the disc bound journal works great for me. I can create the pages I want and punch them myself and I can add or take away pages as needed.
    Thanks for all your helpful hints.
    I enjoy your blogs.

  4. So I have a silly question. The comment above may be answered it for me, but it seems like bullet journals are for big, ongoing projects. What about one time things like shopping lists or school supplies or camping plans…? Doesn’t the index fill up very quickly with those types of things? Or do you only use the index for ongoing need pages? And if you don’t do it month at a glance in your bullet journal, do you do one somewhere else? I find it still need to see that to visualize our month…. Thank you for answering,and opening up your list life to us!

    1. Julia, I use my bullet journal for keeping track of shopping lists, school supplies, and camping plans. 🙂 However, if it’s a master list that I refer to over and over and would need to re-write, I might create a word document on my computer to house that information to print each time I need it. So, it houses both big projects and small projects. Some people like to use post it notes or something similar to keep from having to fill up their journal if it’s a rotating list. This idea has intrigued me. I don’t index anything that I won’t be referring to often, and honestly, I forget to index most of the time and find myself just flipping until I find what I need. ha!

      Some journalers fill several notebooks a year. So far, I’m still on the same journal and I feel like I use it pretty liberally. I did just order my new journal though because I am in the last quarter of my current journal (the one I mention in the video) and didn’t want to have a lag time.

      I use my iCal app on my phone and computer (I’ve used Google calendar in the past just as well) to keep track of appointments and to see my month at a glance. There are limitations to this for me, but I haven’t taken time to tweak it because for now, it’s working just fine. Don’t fix what isn’t broken, right? 🙂

      I love all these questions. I think I’m going to do a video answering them and others I’ve gotten through YouTube and email. Hopefully these answers helped a bit.