#PlanDocumentCreate Bullet Journal

Fighting Bullet Journal Insecurities

I’ve been bullet journaling for almost 4 years now. I first started writing about it on my personal blog and got enough traffic about it that I started this site over here so I wouldn’t confuse any people there for information about bullet journaling when I started to write about boob sweat and politics.

(If you read my personal blog, this is an inside joke. I write a lot about boob sweat and politics.)

My point is? I’ve been using this bullet journal method consistently since 2013 and I’ve got an instagram account and a website and yet…YET…I have lately started to feel very intimidated by the bullet journaling world.

At least once a week someone sends me an article they found on Martha or Oprah or some sort of lifestyle website about bullet journaling and EVERY SINGLE TIME the article is full of these gorgeous spreads and layouts and they are simply works of ART and I think…Um…that’s not quite what I do.

I mean…don’t get me wrong…it’s definitely a system I swear by and promote to anyone who is a chronic list-maker but…I don’t know. I just start to feel insecure that my lettering is kinda boring. Hell, I jazzed up my days just so I could feel more like a real bullet journaler. AND THAT IS THE DUMBEST THING IN THE WORLD.

(Although I do really like the day headings in pretty letters.)

I don’t have time to draw the weather for each day and I’m not talented/artistic enough to have fourteen different gorgeous lettering styles to act as headers and I’m not patient enough to decorate every chart and…AND…AND.

So that’s why I’ve been kinda silent. I felt like I didn’t really match the other bullet journalers I was seeing in these “Must Follow On Instagram!” lists. I wondered why I even bothered keeping up this site when my spreads are just nothing compared to the beautiful ones I see on other instagram accounts.

BUT THEN! Then a friend said to me, “Eh…I’m not artistic enough to be a bullet journaler.” And then, a few days later, I met someone who said, “I don’t have the patience to bullet journal.”

And I realized: WAIT. NO. THERE ARE PLENTY OF PEOPLE OUT THERE LIKE ME! Who are not artistic or patient!

So I’m going to keep talking about my simple/non-artistic layouts. I’m going to keep sharing my pages-with-no art. I’m going to keep offering printables to fill in those voids because I can do prettier things digitally than manually. And I’ll get back to posting more on my instagram.

And here’s another moment recently that reminded me why I do this. See, my “thing” is that I use my bullet journal to #PlanDocumentCreate. Here’s a story that shows the “Document” side of my method, and exactly why bullet journaling doesn’t have to be perfect or beautiful.

My aunt sent me a VHS tape of Pretty Woman for my birthday a few years ago with a note attached saying she remembered I used to sing every song from the sound track. I didn’t have a VCR so I cut up the case and attached the note in my bullet journal. It was very special as I loved her dearly and it cracked me up that my aunt – A NUN – send me that movie.

Well, three weeks ago that same beloved aunt passed away. After time sent with family and saying goodbye, I pulled out that bullet journal from two years ago and smiled thinking about her gift. And then I took all of the items from her memorial services and gave her another spread as my final tribute.

And now that page will be another I look back on with fondness.

I may not have the prettiest spreads, they may not be the most artistic, but for my life? They all fit the bill.

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  1. Chellg says:

    I couldn’t agree more – i’ve started documenting my 1st darling granddaughter – yes phone pics are fine – my dd doesn’t want her in division media – and I live flicking through them with little comments I have made – carry on great work

    1. Roseann Wintringham says:

      Division media. What an appropriate renaming. I am going to use this in my talks with my youth group girls, if you don’t mind.

  2. Diane Grant says:

    Totally agree with you. My BJ is for me, it’s not to share and it’s not a task or job it’s just everything it needs to be for me …scruffy writing, days not writing anything.

  3. Sand says:

    Right there with ya. I am artistic and sometimes I do feel a need to make it pretty BUT I’m working on educating myself that my BuJo is NOT my sketchbook, AND that my sketchbook doesn’t need to be ‘pretty’ either. I became ill with an incurable illness almost a decade ago and I just can’t do neat anymore. Despite that I’ve been trying to, and obviously failing. So now I’m working on embracing being untidy. I don’t have the energy to make super pretty spreads, my BuJo is my therapy partner not a submission for a design competition.
    I recently got my Mum interested in bullet journaling too and her only resource for ideas has been my BuJo. As a consequence she’s come up with what works for her (along with a developing washi tape/pen/sticker addiction. Cue evil laughter!) BUT even so she was also lamenting the other day that she’s not as artistic as me. I said, “So? What does it matter? Nobody but you will see it. It’s to help you, not look pretty.”
    Comparison is the thief of joy, but you have to see examples to learn. I wish all those ‘How To’ blog post’s included a range of styles too, but that won’t matter so much if folks like you (ie: real people being totally honest and realistic) keep blogging about it.
    Sorry about your loss, truly. We’ve had too much loss over the years and I wish I had spreads like yours as comfort. Bravo.

  4. MRysn says:

    Thank you! My bullet journal is so boring! It’s a book of lists, and to-do’s and calendars, and notes from calls,meetings, life…. It has zero art and my handwriting is horrific. But I love it! It’s the most efficient system I’ve ever found. EVERYTHING is in one place. So I’ll just keep up my boring and keep loving it!

  5. Dulce Medrano says:

    You hit the nail on the head!
    No I’m sorry…that was a bull’s eye! Right on target. “Bullet” journal joke. 😕
    I bought letter stencils and that’s as artistic as it gets! Love it!

  6. Patricia says:

    I can’t draw either. I can’t make pretty letters. Some days I can’t even read my own handwriting. My bullet journal joy is that I have a book that I can’t tear pages out of. I have all my notes and reminders in a place that is “permanent”. When I am feeling like I don’t accomplish much, I can flip back through the pages and see that is not true. And every once in a while, I sit down and try to make a pretty weekly spread, but that is secondary to my purpose. Bullet journaling helps me stay focused. That is my main objective.

  7. Kath says:

    I applaud this. Your joirnal is actually the least boring because no one ever needs to go back to see that they drank eight glasses of water recorded with various colours on their arbitrary date in the past, but yours, you hold the memories, and that is what matters.

    Mine is plain and messy and meaningful. I will never be the artistic one but I love my journal.

    1. Shelley says:

      “no one ever needs to go back to see that they drank eight glasses of water recorded with various colours on their arbitrary date in the past”


  8. Roseann Wintringham says:

    Mine is super boring, nothing really added other than my notes and such. I want to get in the habit of printing out my iphone pics and attaching them in on the appropriate days, just so I can also see what is going on. This will be especially nice once my grandchild (!!!) comes this fall.

    I am kind of regretting my choice of notebook this go around, I love the paper, but there are so many pages that it is taking me FOREVER to fill this thing. It’s a stalogy notebook from Amazon, and while I think it is amazing that I can probably get an entire year in this thing, I also get super bored easily.

  9. Elle says:

    Girl, please! You keep doing what you are doing. A bullet journal is a way of keeping organized and on track. It’s NOT scrapbooking. I’m too busy to sit and doodle, draw,color, draw out templates. My bullet journal is a HOT MESS. Sometimes stuff ends up written sideways on a page. There are spots it’s even upside down. I keep a bullet journal because I’m BUSY! I’m juggling a million things, that’s why a normal pre-planned planner doesn’t work. When I see those perfect bullet journals with the perfect lettering, the cute drawings, the perfect printing? Those belong to people that seem to have a lot of time on their hands. They are rather like a rare porcelain tea cup. Pretty to look at, but not everyday use. There are plenty of us that use a bullet journal that is our weapon against time and a memory that is not perfect. It’s not meant to be pristine, it’s meant to be battle worn and a testament that we made it! FYI… compared to my bullet journal, yours is the pretty pristine one. Lol

  10. Christina says:

    I am new to bullet journaling but I think you are spot on. You have helped me. Your approach appeals to me 100 percent. Thank you!!!

  11. Valerie says:

    Remover this: Good enough us good enough! Trust the process! Enjoy the journey!

  12. Jeannine says:

    I love the things you do. They don’t overwhelm me and I feel excited to try my bullet journal. I get frustrated all the time and give up but really want to make bullet journaling work for me. Thanks for sticking with it.

  13. Dana says:

    Thank you for writing that I actually stopped bullet journaling because I do not have an artistic bone in my body, but I did enjoy it and I used it as my journal as well. I think about going back often now I just might after reading this😊

  14. Rachel says:

    Thank you! I stopped using my BuJo for a few weeks because I didn’t have time to draw my normal layout – but it was when I could have used it the most. Now I’ve gotten back into the swing of it and let go of some of the craziness I used to do. I’m not artistic but I love the methodology behind bullet journaling. What you wrote is a good reminder.

  15. Heather Pine says:

    LOVE my bullet journal! On year 3 now and have been through many iterations. Very-not-artistic am I BUT there are many things I like to keep track of . I’ve always used a daily planner but never stuck to one. Now, with BuJo, I have the perfect planner FOR ME. And I love stickers and washi, so I jazz it up with those and multicolored pens!

  16. Aimee says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! I have been bullet journaling since August of last year and I started with the pretty markers and fun fonts but as I keep going, I find myself not wanting to write in it because I don’t have time to keep it “pretty”… that is crazy! It is to help me keep organized and remind me of things… It is mine and nobody else is looking at it! I am recommitted and very excited to keep it up to date again… my way! 🙂

  17. Lisa Yearian says:

    Thank you for this. I too sometimes feel intimidated by the pretty ones I find on YouTube or Instagram, because mine aren’t “pretty”. But they serve a purpose and outlet for me so I like to see how others who are a bit more realistic like me are doing. Because I like seeing ideas for different ways to organize my thoughts and such.

  18. Jenn says:

    So love this! I had to give up trying to make mine pretty. I still use it daily and am glad for the system. When my college daughter comes home for breaks , I beg her to do some weekly spreads for me because she is artistic! She said, ” Mom, I am not your art slave!” Lol!

  19. Yours is the only bullet journal blog I follow. That’s because you are all about bullet journal JOY! It’s not about the artsy side for me, though I do love looking at them, and occasionally try to write a little neater. It’s about prioritizing, motivation (the power of those nagging check boxes), getting organized and keeping track of information. You have been an inspiration to me. You have your unique gifts to offer us. This memorial is precious.

  20. Linda Fristoe says:

    Thank you! I started my BuJo at the insistence of my daughter who was tied of picking up all my notes that ended up everywhere.
    I just started my fourth notebook since August. It is amazing to know at hand everything I used to try to keep in my head out on notes.
    I’ve subscribed to those fancy websites and then dumped them.
    This journal has a fancy front. My granddaughter colored a mandala for me. I cut it out and glued it on. It pleases both of us!

  21. Cate says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Lots of us on the minimal and messy end of the bullet journal spectrum need to hear this message. Pretty is…pretty, but most of us got started with bullet journaling for functionality, organization, goal-setting, memory-keeping, etc. A less-stylized, no-style-at-all approach is legit, and in fact, may turn more people ON to bullet journaling instead of intimidating them with the idea that fancy and colorful is a must or it’s not the real thing.

  22. shary says:

    Sorry about the loss of your aunt – from the photo, she looks like a rascal! (I’m 78 and was raised by nuns). Started a bullet journal this year. Keeps me on track with appts, birthdays, etc. Plus habit & expense tracker. Sometimes I make a page about nothing; it’s a great tool for self-expression I found a cute photo of me and my high school boyfriend, just before we separated and never came in contact again – did a page about us. Recently counseled with a granddaughter regarding an unwanted pregnancy. Her decision was to terminate, and I had begun to feel a tight bond with the little soul that wasn’t to be. My sorrow went onto a couple of journal pages – the rest stays in my heart. Enjoy your page very much!

  23. Lydia Willis says:

    Thank you for sharing your bullet journal. I am also not very artistic but my journal keeps my insane days sane. I use your printables and I am so grateful for them.

  24. oretavia says:

    My Bullet Journal is boring. My handwriting is ugly and I’m able to write only two styles of letters. I can’t draw, because I’m not artistic person. I only use some color pens, washi tape and stickers.
    My BJ isn’t a piece of art. I’m terrible in scrapbooking.
    My BJ is a tool to planning, tracking and memorizing. And I’m very organized.

    PS I love the way you bullet journaling. You are my inspiration.

  25. Robin Monson says:

    Thank you for that article! Now I can rest easy that I am not creative and can bullet journal😆

  26. I love this post! I’ve been using the bullet journal system for a year and I totally agree. When I started, I tried to make it incredibly beautiful and artistic but it’s more practical and functional for me when I keep it on the minimal side!

  27. Nancy says:

    Boy did I need to read this! I can be artistic as the next animal but honestly, who has that kind of time? I am 61 years old – you’d think I couldn’t have that much to bullet journal but I still work, full-time, and everything that goes with it. Thank you!

  28. Molly A Flores says:

    I love this article and will keep it as inspiration on days I’m not sure I’m cut from the Bulletjournaling clothe. I enjoy your articles exactly because they are my speed – I love using this method to track time/life/lists, etc., but I am not as creative as so many others, nor do I have the time for detailed art and minutia, so yeah…you are not alone. 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  29. Heather Perdigon says:

    Never ever stop! You got me into bullet journaling and while I follow other blogs now, too, I keep coming back here…where it feels comfortable and safe and I can bullet journal the way it works for me and I don’t have to feel self-conscious or judged or not good enough. Like you, I use my journal to keep track and look back and remember and it keeps me organized and I now treasure it!

    I went through breast cancer diagnosis/treatment September 2016 – January 2017 and can I just tell you how invaluable it was to keep track of appointments, doctors, medication, etc. And how many times when I pulled it out in the waiting room to write something down someone asked me what it was and I met people and we talked and supported each other.

    Never doubt that your “nonartistic” layouts speak to a bunch of us who just do us.

  30. Sereana T says:

    Woooow!!!I get super stressed and just leave my journal after ripping out pages because it doesn’t look like the Bullet Journals on IG 🙁 But this is awesome!!!

  31. Marian Wyatt says:

    Keep up the journal and email…please!
    Same type of bj

  32. If your Bullet Journal has scribbles, simple layouts, zero art, toddler snot and wine stains on it, and it works for you – fantastic. You don’t owe anyone a BuJo that works for them, or for their expectations.

    If you really crave a BuJo with arty stuff, super – go for it. Learn a new skill – absolutely. But do it for yourself, not anyone else. It’s nice when you’re an Instagram rock star, but better when you sit back and say “Wow, I did this!”

    Would you listen to a woman who said negative things about your bullet journal just as a boost for her own bitchy ego? No? You’d tell her to GTFO. So don’t tell yourself negative things either because you can’t GTFO from yourself.


  33. Also – my sincere condolences on the loss of your Aunt Marie. She sounds like she was a very special person.

  34. Sass says:

    Very touching. I’m one of your tribe: slightly scruffy, sentimental and a bit random with the washi tape. Thank you for the printable. I’ll be road testing those in June / July.

  35. Yolanda says:

    I absolutely love your bujo because when I need inspiration I always go to you on this site and on instagram because it mirrors what I do/need. I’ll never have one of those “fancy” bujos, but I will always have one that will help me get through my day/week/month effectively with a few memories posted in. You do you : )

  36. Andrea says:

    Hi! I just found your website and love it! I am artistic in some ways but in bullet journaling I am not! I long for super simple basic spreads without all the fluff! For God sake I don’t have time to devote that much time to my glorified calendar/planner. I choose functional over pretty every time!!!
    Thank you for your blog : )

  37. Zuzannah says:

    Remember how simple the origanal creator’s bullet system was/is? This is bullet journalling which keeps me sane. What people are getting all artistic with, I call Art Journals — a highly decorative, but too time consuming for me, I just want someting I can remember where I am and where I am supposed to be. And what was it I was supposed to be doing. Best of all are my pages telling me where things are! Since I have a tendancy too get way too elaborate with my book, I go back to the basics for a month or two; after that it is easy to pick what works for me (not me working for the journal!!)

  38. Kim Jones says:

    I am WITH you on this! The reason I BuJo is the freedom to DO my day as I please. This means if I have a memory I want to document – I have room to do it. My BuJo is a piece of ME – a time capsule of what I did, what happened that day – what is special to me. Yes, I’m like you – it is not always pretty, but it is me. LOVE how you shared that you can pull a past journal and relive the experience and then add new ones to your current. You are MY inspiration…keep up the great work!

  39. I work in the fine arts (painter), and you’d think I’d be into all that crafty, pretty fluff, but NO! My art sketchbooks are working spaces, not picture perfect creations, an I’m certainly not wasting a single drop of whatever creative energy I have on decorating my bullet journal. It is strictly for planning, organizing my time, and helping me to remember the gazillion things I have to get done between work, home, family concerns, and self care. My handwriting isn’t very attractive, and I just cross out mistakes. But I LOVE keeping a bullet journal because everything I need to know is in one place, I can customize it to fit any circumstances in my life, and it’s a really nice size to carry around in a purse or tote – not as bulky as my old planner. The whole concept of just a notebook and a pen speaks to my minimalist heart!

  40. Sorry, a bit late with a comment. I only intend to mention that many of the pretty BuJos are not for use, but for attract traffick. The owners sometimes admit that “this is not the journal I use everyday”…

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