Why Sometimes it’s Perfectly Okay to Neglect Your Bullet Journal

When I first started bullet journaling, I was so excited and full of ideas that I could have spent an entire week writing, listing, lettering and drawing. Like many new passions, I dove in head first and couldn’t imagine missing a single day. But is that realistic?

A few months in, I had a lupus flare up and I went into “survival mode” which meant I was lucky if I could cook dinner for my family, let alone plan for the next day. Once I adjusted to the flare, I felt bad that I had missed an entire week in my BUJO.

Guilt is a powerful feeling. It can be a great motivator to help us make positive changes in our lives. But, for many of us, it can also be a giant weight around our necks that keeps us from rising up and moving forward. I began to ask myself, “If the BUJO is supposed to be a simple tool to help me, why do I feel guilty for neglecting it?”

The answer is actually pretty simple. I felt I wasn’t being productive – and that was just unacceptable! The house could be on fire, the flood is raging down the street, the sky is falling — but I must get the task list checked off!

It scared me to think that I lost a week — but that’s because while bullet journaling is the best way I’ve found to keep me on task, seeing blank spreads and white pages is pretty “in your face” about what you didn’t get done.

Bullet journal missed week

I needed to overcome those feelings, so I opened up that box of guilt and mindfully explored how to get back on track while acknowledging that it will happen again. I’d love to share my thoughts on this in hopes that it will help you feel okay with neglecting your own BUJO sometimes! I think it’s really important to think through reasons you may drop journaling so that you can pick it back up again and let it continue to be a positive force in your life.

When Life gets Crazy – Give Yourself some Grace

There will always be times where you need time to rest, recover, or take a break from daily routines.

Sometimes, life throws some pretty big curveballs. Remember how I mentioned “survival mode” before? We’ve all been there. You’ve lost your job. You just got some scary news about your health. You’ve just lost a loved one. In those times of crises, you may actually find a sense of distraction and normalcy by writing in your bullet journal and keeping to a schedule. Or, you may find it incredibly overwhelming while you’re navigating a “new normal”.

In times like these, it’s critical to ask yourself: “Is my bullet journal helping me feel better right now, or is it causing more stress?” If it’s making you feel overwhelmed to keep up with your daily spreads, then give yourself some grace and take a little break.

Bullet journal missing page

Life is also going to throw some magical times at you! Your sister is in town for the long weekend. You’re hosting a huge birthday party for your son. You’re on a vacation with your friends and happily dropping into bed each night, exhausted from the day’s activities. When you’re too busy with a big life event or you only have a few precious days to spend with family or friends, your bullet journal can wait until life is back to normal.

Explore WHY you like using a bullet journal

When I got back into my journal, I needed to truly understand why I do it and why I love it so much. Once I purposefully wrote down my reasons, it became clear that it’s SO much more than a task-management system and collection organizer.

Journaling helps me be mindful and focus on improving myself.

Rather than being reactionary and trying to cope with things as they happen to me, my journal helps me create a space where I can:

  • Purposefully plan ahead for greater things
  • Recognize and document what I am grateful for
  • Find patterns in my health, behaviors and habits that I can improve
  • Organize my thoughts and feelings
  • Engage my mind in a new way (handwriting and drawing)
  • Express myself creatively

Once I realized all of the ways my bullet journal helps me, it actually helped release a lot of my guilt over neglecting it here and there. Why? Because it’s actually a lot of work to feel and do all of those things in that list! While they are all very important to my well-being, make no mistake — it’s also work.

Writing down all the ways your bullet journal helps you can quickly show how much hard work you put into your journaling — and into yourself! (Hey, you’re awesome!) This activity is a really great way to also identify sections you could completely neglect while keeping to bare-bones essentials. Maybe you just came down with the flu. Would it be okay to only write out tomorrow’s task list and leave out your ‘grateful for’s’, health tracking and daily summary? Of course!

The main take-away here is that sometimes you just need to let yourself BE. You don’t always have to take advantage of all the wonderful ways your BUJO helps you. Maybe it feels like too much work sometimes, or maybe you just don’t need to get into all that every day! Be flexible and give yourself some grace.

For me, living with a chronic illness and having a big family means there are plenty of days when life is throwing some heavy stuff my way (good and bad). Sometimes I need to take a break. Other days, life is feeling very peaceful and slow. I’ll be sitting outside watching the birds in my garden and journaling doesn’t even come to mind. And that’s perfectly okay.

I hope some of this has resonated with you! I’d love to hear your own thoughts on neglecting your BUJO. Feel free to leave a comment below or you can email me at jess@pineconepapers.com!