Why it’s totally ok for your bullet journal to be ugly

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You may have run across Bullet Journals on Instagram or Pinterest. I know that was certainly my first introduction! The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carrol happens to be one of my favorite books about planning and productivity. However, the original method and what you see on social media diverge quite a bit.

What you are likely to see on social media if you search for “bullet journal” is a plethora of picture-perfect, meticulously illuminated journal spreads. While they are wonderful expressions of creativity and skill, I’m here to tell you- it’s totally fine for your bullet journal to be as ugly as sin! Mine is.

What my BuJo actually looks like

If you pick up a copy of The Bullet Journal Method, you quickly realize that the author developed it as a quick and dirty solution for keeping track. It’s fast, simple, and allows you to get a handle on a complicated schedule or complex project very efficiently and with no special tools.

I’m definitely an advocate of the original style. Learning the system was a game-changer for me. Thanks to this method, I am able to run multiple blogs while I write and independently publish fiction and non-fiction and write podcasts and online courses in herbalism. That’s a lot to keep tabs on, but it actually doesn’t feel like a lot when I’m properly keeping track.

Ryder Carroll’s system turned out to be a very elegant way for me to keep track and prioritize on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Would I have time to be so productive if I created painstaking drawings for my bullet journal? For me, personally, that’s a definite, “Nope.”

(Using Grammarly to edit my work has also been a huge boost to my productivity! Read my Grammarly review here and find out why I now consider it essential.)

I tried keeping a pretty bullet journal . . .

I tried. Really, I did. However, this (see above) is now as good as it gets.

In the interest of science, I tried keeping a “pretty” bullet journal for a month. Let me tell you, I love the idea. I wish I could have my sh*t that together, so effortless, so gorgeous, so. . .

Wait. How does anyone realistically have the time for that? Needless to say, I went back to basics. I need something I can drag around everywhere I go and spill coffee on! Have to rip out a page to write a note for someone? No problem. They are a tool. Not a masterpiece.

For me, it makes much more sense to explore art through my art journals and sketchbooks and let my bullet journal be utilitarian and minimalist, just like in the book. It’s not that either way is right or wrong. It’s just important to be aware of what’s realistic for you.

Viva la ugly Bullet Journals!

Even Ryder Carrol has a bit to say about what a bujo is or is not:

I think part of the Bullet Journal’s success stems from its ability to become different tools to different people. Though I strongly advise starting out simple, if spending the time to embellish your Bullet Journal motivates you, makes you more productive, and brings you joy, then you’re doing it right.”

So if you love illustrating and embellishing your journal, my hat’s off to you. As for me, I’m perfectly content with my ugly little notebook. And if you’ve been feeling stressed out by the pursuit of Bullet Journal perfection. . . just remember – it’s totally ok for your Bullet Journal to be ugly. Just like mine! We can be Fugly BuJo Twinsies. *pinky promises*

If you really, really want a beautiful BuJo, I suggest Archer and Olive notebooks (you can even use my link for 15% off). I use a blank page one as a sketchbook and I’m so impressed with the quality of the paper. For my little workhorse bullet journals, I use Leuchtturm notebooks.