Getting Too Pretty? – Bullet Journals on Instagram

If I mention bullet journals, or “bujo” as they’re sometimes abbreviated to, I bet pretty images of colour-coordinated and meticulously organised cutesy notebooks covered in artsy doodles that you’ve seen on Instagram come to mind. And perhaps the voice of a child YouTube star. If that sort of thing is your vibe, that’s great. Keep on doing you pal. I support your artistic brilliance. But if that level of organisation and pure prettiness freaks you out like it does to me, then you might think bullet journals are not for you.

Think again, my friend. 

About a year ago today, a girl approached me as I sat with my head in hands, staring at my bullet journal, agonising over that wonky orange line I’d just drawn in an attempt to make my day’s travel plans look pretty. I didn’t have a ruler on me, so I’d attempted to use the spine of another book. You know the one. 

“A fellow bullet journalist,” she said smiling. As she sat down, I explained that I loved the idea of keeping all my writing, lists and notes in one place, but that glancing from my pages to influencers’ pages on Instagram made me feel somewhat incompetent. Ah Instagram, the destroyer of egos! 

What she told me to do next is what I will tell you to do now – write that journal like no-one’s watching, because trust me, unless you’re a famed lifestyle influencer they probably aren’t. The acknowledgment of “ah, this journal is mine and I shall do whatever I want with it” is incredibly liberating, and you know what, actually a lot more practical and efficient for me. I LOVE the scruffiness of my bullet journal, I savour every page (God bless the trees, less waste, more love) and enjoy that feeling of freedom as I scrawl my “to do” list next to my “shit I ought to learn about” list. These things – the lists of places I want to go, books I want to read, and things I want to do – go at the back of my journal. This is about as much organisation that goes on; the front is for journaling and the back is for bulleting.

The front, oh the front is a beauty. And no, we’re still not talking about beauty in terms of themed months and moon diagrams to track your moods; this part is every bit as chaotic as the back. This was the second life hack that that friendly fellow bullet journalist gave me – every now and then, just sit down and write. Let your mind go wherever it wants and allow the pen to follow on its heels like an eager puppy. This has been life changing. A great deal of the time now, this is the only way I am able to find out if something is on my mind and what that something is. The appreciation I have for this journaling technique is unreal, it has seriously helped me in so many ways. It has reminded me of what I’m grateful for, enlightened me to worries I may be harbouring, and permitted me to record what’s important in my life at that time, all without feeling that obstructing pressure that I always felt when it came to journaling of any sort, particularly with bullet journaling, that need to be organised, routine, neat and precise. 

So, yes, fellow readers who also lack any artistic bone in their body, bullet journaling is for you too. I know that letting your creative juices flow can be exceptionally therapeutic for many, which is why on Instagram you will so often see those pleasingly perfect pages, but that complete letting-go, that knowing that this journal is for your eyes and your eyes only, that’s pretty damn therapeutic too.

Beanna Olding