The beauty of a journal is the flexibility it offers. But with this flexibility comes the risk of being overwhelmed by the endless directions that one can take with a blank journal — and the risk that beginners don’t realise all the benefits that journaling has to offer. To avoid this outcome, it is important to adapt your approach to journaling to meet your needs.
Natalie, a bullet journal creator and freelance illustrator who is known as @blossom_bujo online, knows how important it is to adapt your journal: “I’ve been journaling for 5 years and I’m not even sure if I found the right method for me, but I can say that the one I’m using now pretty much works! I think journaling evolves and changes along with your growth.
Lots of aspects of your life influence the way you approach the matter: the time you have, what you do in life (if you are a student, if you work for someone or you are self-employed, if you have a family of your own etc).”
In this blog post, we’ll consider some of these key factors to consider in finding a journaling approach that works for you.
Ask yourself what you want to get out of a journal
The purpose that you identify for your journal will be key to finding the right approach. For many, journaling is a highly personal, reflective experience which involves jotting down one’s innermost thoughts and emotions.
These reflections can take be a few words long, or stretch for pages. For many within the online bullet journaling community, a more functional approach to journaling is key, allowing a more structured, organised life, with pre-made trackers and spreads used to monitor activities and encourage progress towards goals.
Other creators and artists adapt their journals to feature their designs, sometimes taking up full pages with sketches or watercolour art.
Take an approach that fits into your schedule
“The time you have in your hands influences a lot the way you approach your Bullet Journal,” Nathalie tells us. “Some time I have way too much free time, and other I’m overburdened with life and can’t lay down my pen!
I try to be as consistent as I can, since this is the goal of journaling, but if life gets busy I don’t overwork myself and stress about it.”
Nathalie continues, with examples: “You have a busy lifestyle? Just use the journal to help you stay organised thanks to a simple black pen: create lists, point out what you want to focus on amidst the numerous tasks you have, write down your goal and go for it!
You need an outlet to express your creativity? Go colourful, play with shapes and find joy in your monthly themes, draw until you feel exhausted! You feel creative but are not really into drawing? Make use of journaling supplies, there’s so many you can choose from: washi tapes, memo pads, stickers, stamps and many more.”
Embrace the flexibility of journals
While it can be argued that a pre-made planner is more suitable to a busy lifestyle, some may find that the potential of a journal to be highly adaptable is ideal. This way, your journal is a place for to-do lists, planning, in-depth note taking, and whatever you need to put on paper.
Nathalie explained how her journal has changed over time: “If I look back at my first Bullet Journal, I can see that it’s completely different from my present journal, and that is completely normal!
I think you need to go with the flow until you find a place you feel comfortable with, and of course experimenting helps a lot, but don’t get too fixated cause you may find yourself changing it without even realizing.”
Don’t become discouraged if your supplies are limited
While a large collection of supplies can be helpful to enhance your expression, it is a common misconception that a stationery collection is essential for beginners. In fact, this is not necessary to the adoption of a useful journaling method.
“I’ve been asked this question a lot, and my answer has always been the same: you don’t need fancy supplies when you start journaling,” Nathalie says. “I remember I just started with a notebook, a black ball point pen and a limited set of 20 markers, the cheapest you could find!
Now I’m in a different place, but you need to keep in mind that years passed, and now I’m a full grown adult who can fund her passions. Lot’s of people who start journaling are still students, so It’s normal to not have the means to build a supply collection, so don’t worry and start at your own peace, remember that just a black pen and a journal can take you far if you really are passionate about it.”