Bujo for Beginners: My Top Tips

If you read my Saluations! post, you know that I am a single mom with a crazy busy life. How do I keep it all together? Two words: Bullet Journal.

I will admit, I didn’t jump on the Bujo Bandwagon until about 4 months ago. I stumbled across some gorgeous versions of the Bullet Journal system and dove in. And made a bunch of mistakes. So here I am sharing my rough beginnings with all y’all.

To be completely honest, I was a little intimidated by some of the gorgeous Bujos out there among the bloggers and Instagram crowd. Even the Facebook groups were a little intimidating. When I first came across the concept, I looked into getting started and said there was no way I was going to drop $25 on a nearly blank notebook. Then when I came around again and was admiring the artistic ones, I said there was no way I was dropping $25 on a notebook I was only going to mess up.

So here is what I learned between then and now.

  1. Buying a “starter” bujo is kind of a waste. If you don’t LOVE the book in which you’re tracking the details of your LIFE, you’re not going to use it consistently. Take the plunge and get a Leuchtturm 1917, a Rhodia, or a Scribbles That Matter notebook. It WILL change the way you approach the practice of Bullet Journal-ing. You will look forward to the quiet time, almost with a sense of reverence. As well you should. My tip: Barnes and Noble is now carrying the official Bullet Journal Leuchtturm1917. If you have a membership, it’s 10% off. If you can, use a 20% off coupon and get it for under $20. You can get it for even less than on Amazon, and you won’t have to wait 2 days! Downside: it only comes in black and emerald (looks more like teal to me). For a couple dollars more you can get any color on Amazon. 
  2. Make it YOURS. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to customize mine. Until I saw a post by the lovely Boho Berry herself, Kara Benz. She moved her Bujo into a traveler’s notebook cover. I don’t have the budget for the gorgeous Chic Sparrow cover she chose, but I DID have a Molly and Rex cover that I bought months ago from Michael’s and tossed in a drawer. I wasn’t thrilled with the inserts, but I HATE returning things to a store. So often a lot of my purchases end up tucked away, waiting for their purpose to reveal itself, or for the perfect person to whom I can gift it away. So I decided to try it out. OMG, I fell in love. And then I prettied it up. 20170703_071428.jpgI slid some beads on the longer tails of the elastic I replaced, found a cute tassel charm that matched the emerald LT1917 Bullet Journal, and added some Swarovsky crystal charms that were special to me. Making it pretty with the beads and the tassel and the charms made me smile. I smile every time I pick it up. I enjoy taking it with me and I look forward to writing in it. I keep it open on my desk at work, in class, and at home so that it is always ready to go for the next task or list or idea.20170703_071454 Here you can see one of the Molly and Rex inserts on the left, and a pocket from the Jane Davenport collection (also at Michael’s) in between the insert and the LT1917. That little pocket is handy for receipts or mail that needs to be dealt with. The insert also helps make the Bullet Journal easier to write in when first starting it, because it supports the left side of the journal. I have another insert after the journal, partly to satisfy my OCDisms and partly to support the right side as I near the end of the journal. My tip: The more you make it your own, the more you will enjoy using it, and the more you WILL use it. Whether that means doodling over the cover, creative use of washi or stickers, or threading it into a travelers cover and making a ton of beads and charms, just make it personal to you. Not only will you truly love using it, but no one could mistake it for anyone else’s but yours. 😉
  3. Relax. Don’t strive for perfection. It’s easy to get inspired by all the talented Bujo artists out there. And that makes it easy to get overwhelmed. You don’t have to do all the fancy scripts and fonts. Check out some minimalist Bujo Instagram feeds. Google “minimalist bullet journal” and bask in the simplicity. You can always work your way up to fancy. But if you strive to be perfect with brush lettering from day one (and you’ve never done it before), you are likely to get frustrated and give up. My tip: Start small, start minimal. This is supposed to make you MORE productive. If you are spending hours and hours trying to get a spread “just right,” you are missing the point. Blast out a simple spread, and work on your brush lettering or corner doodles in your spare time. Incorporate them slowly as you gain confidence. 
  4. Resist the urge to do all the things all at once. Try to only incorporate one new inspiration at a time and give it a week or two to see if it works for you. I would LOVE to incorporate a monthly mood tracker and gratitude log and fitness tracker and meal planning. Right now though, I am just doing the basics. Once I have a good rhythm and flow down, I will experiment with the other things. But for now, just staying organized and productive is my main Bujo goal.  

I am no expert, by any means. But these are the things I learned FAST, and I thought I would pass them on to you.

Keep calm, and Bujo on!

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