This is the thought I was faced with just a few weeks into my junior year of high school. The system I had stuck with for the past few years had suddenly turned into something I realistically couldn’t keep up with anymore. Having to keep up with my various lists, trackers, and reflections eventually began to bring more stress than peace of mind.
After a whole month of blank pages with nothing but to-do lists, I knew something in my system had to change. Much like beginning to bullet journal for the very first time, I went back to square one with these three steps:
Due to my major adjustment to the new school year, there were many spreads and trackers that became unnecessary or just didn’t benefit me at the time. That’s why this first step is to reevaluate your priorities. When you find that many of your spreads aren’t helping you anymore, take some time to go through your various pages and sort out which ones you still find useful. Oftentimes, spreads you once used daily are now sitting completely blank in your journal. This is most likely due to a certain life change or adjustment (ex. When school started, I stopped using my content planner spread, as I no longer had time to make content). Narrowing down the number of spreads you use will not only update your system, but also give you less to do for the next month.
Just like in math, another important step is to simplify. Whether it’s your art, the amount of spreads you use, or things you track, your best bet is keeping your journal as simple as possible, so that it becomes manageable again. Before going into my junior year, I was making 2 weekly spreads per week, decorating each page with elaborate themes. This was manageable and fun over the summer, but definitely not during the school-year.
While my love for art and doodling still remained, the time I had to do it sure didn’t. The high artistic expectations and time commitment I had for my spreads eventually became the thing that held me back from creating. The whole process of having to plan out and draw something different every week pushed me away from my journal, and I was left with weeks and weeks of unfinished pages and attempted drawings.
Eventually, I figured that making simpler themes was better than having none at all. After lowering my expectations, I began to look forward to sitting down and creating a weekly spread and doodling whatever simple things I liked. Once I stopped treating every spread like a major art project, they seemed infinitely less daunting to create. This change in my mindset had almost immediate effects, as my spreads went from blank to-do lists to fully completed pages. They were pretty simple, mind you, but at least I had a finished page to use for the week.
3. Set aside time to journal
Setting aside a specific time during the day or the week will help you turn bullet journaling into more of a regular habit. As I learned from Atomic Habits, the more consistent you are, the stronger the habit will become. When you turn bullet journaling into a habit, it will eventually just seem like part of your routine rather than something you need to go out of your way to do.
Bullet journaling is a way to organize your thoughts and your life - I hope these tips help you get back on track to keep it this way.