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If you are a bullet journaler with impeccable handwriting and stylish pages go away. We think you are awesome, but this post is not for you. You just click up there on the menu option that says Blog and go find another post to read.

To Bullet Journaling Wannabees:

I am going to tell you a secret your Instagram feed does not want you to know. You can successfully use a bullet journal without posting pictures on social media. Earth shattering? Stick with me.

Bullet journaling is super cool, right? There are so many ideas to be more productive and encourage self-improvement. Every day you see the beautiful work of others and wish it could be you. Have you tried it before but gave up when it was too much work or it did not turn out how you wanted? Do you think it is not for you because you can barely draw a stick figure and/or your handwriting is atrocious?

What if I told you that you could benefit from bullet journaling even if it’s ugly? What if I told you those charts work just as well with a simple checkbox? What if I told you that no one ever has to see it?

Guess what? It’s true!

I have liked the idea of bullet journaling for a while now but did not make the time to do it because it seemed like a lot of work. In March, I finally decided I was going to give it a shot. Between my son’s naps, I tried to get my month set up. After many interruptions and at least a couple of days, I was finally ready to use it. But, I wanted to always use the right color and keep it pretty and wanted to thoughtfully use each page, etc. So, all the sudden it was April and I had not gotten a lot of use out of it. I set up April similarly, but more simply. This made it easier to “mess up” a page when I wanted to think through something. So, I started using this thing and making it work for me. When May hit, I literally just numbered my page down and then put a letter to the left indicating the day of the week and it is working just fine. Better than fine, actually. I really love it.

I am using it for everything. It is under my arm right now open to the page I used this morning to draft the Mother’s Day card to my mother in law. Guess what? It is ugly. Very ugly. But, it allowed me to make the card pretty. That’s a win to me. Then I put a line under it and started brainstorming a new blog post. Why waste paper?

I have a page to track my hours for some accounting work I do for my sister. There is a page with a list of all of the meals I cook to reference when my mind goes blank around 4 pm when its time to think about dinner. I have my baby’s schedule, a work out routine I tried, a garden plan, my monthly finances, and most recently my blog planning. Not a cutesy drawing or pretty handwriting anywhere. Guess what? It still works! Blew my mind too.

So, dust off whatever journal you have laying around. Take a deep breath: It is even ok to use one that already has writing in it! It is also totally ok to go buy a really cute new one. I have a weakness for pretty stationery myself. However, I (used to) struggle to write in pretty notebooks fearing I would mess them up. I am currently using a really wonderful notebook my sister in law gave me for my birthday that had been sitting untouched since August. Every time I use it I smile. Which is every day. Instead of once every few months when I stumbled upon it. This is better. Trust me.

Just get started. Do not wait for the first of the month. Do not spend five hours getting it set up “just right”. What do you need right now? A grocery list? Do it! Draft a card or thank you note? Do it. Copy down a phone number? Yes, even that.

Once you get started, you will find yourself reaching for it more than you thought possible.

You still have not started? Ok, I will walk you through it.

Step 1: Find a notebook and find the first blank page. Flip 10-15 pages past it, grab your favorite pen, and write the current month at the top of the page.

Step 2: Consult the calendar on your phone and number your page (and continue onto the next page if needed) for each day of the month leaving a little room to the left to indicate the day of the week. Then write in the day of the week using Su, M, Tu, W, Th, F, Sa.

Step 3: If it is not the first of the month, go back and write in anything you can remember you did this month that is worth noting.

Step 4: Write in anything you already have planned for the month.

Step 5: Flip the page, write today’s date on the first line and then list three things you want to accomplish today. Checkboxes are optional. Now go do them.

Step 6: Add whatever you want to track.

Step 7: Fight the urge to compare your bullet journal to your Pins and Instagram feed.

– You will figure out pretty quickly why I had you skip pages at the beginning. This allows you to add pages that you will use all year long at the beginning, instead of in the middle of a random month. I made this mistake and thought I would save you from it. However, a sticky note, paperclip, or a piece of washi tape folded over (if you are feeling fancy) do just fine too.
– You can still look at Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration for what to put in your journal, just do not get hung up on the way it looks. Keep it simple and do not worry if it is ugly. It still works.
– Find what works for you. Do you need a weekly calendar in addition to or instead of your monthly overview? Go for it. Even if it is just to get through a particularly busy week.
– Try new things. If you do not like it, flip that page and move on!
– It is ok to make pages pretty, as long as it is not an excuse to procrastinate or give up. If you find you are spending more time journaling than actually living life, go back to ugly journaling.
– Notice how there are no pictures of my journal in my post. That is because my journal really is too ugly to make a good graphic.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!