Why a bullet journal doesn't work

3 Reasons Why a Bullet Journal Doesn't Work

Using a bullet journal can do a lot of good, and yet there is a good number of people who have tried to work with a bullet journal, but to no avail.

A bullet journal can be a powerful tool for your productivity and give you insights you didn't know about before, unless the journal is used wisely. Why a bullet journal may not work and how you might adjust it, you'll read in this article.

When I see questions pass by in bujo groups like, "I'm running behind with my journal, how do you solve this", or "I have space left on my goals page, do you have any ideas", I can almost see a bullet journal disappearing into a drawer already. I know that this is very short and that I am now generalizing. And yet the feeling creeps up on me that the way of journaling at that moment does not fit the person in question.

3 important reasons why a bullet journal doesn't work

There are more than 3 reasons possible, but these three I hear and see the most around me. I will immediately include some examples of myself that may help you.

1. You adopt someone else's goals or habits

There is nothing wrong with "copying" someone's design, provided credit is given. This is an unwritten rule of decency within the bullet journal community. This aside.

Getting inspired by an idea for a spread is normal and everyone does it. But here's the thing, what you write down as goals or habits in that spread, has to be yours. They are your goals, your habits that you want to work on.

It is not wise to use the content from a tracker, because by doing so you are not improving yourself. Of course, there may be similarities, but you would be able to see that in retrospect. Besides copying subjects that have nothing to do with you, you can also miss things that are very important to you. By thinking about what you need to support you in your daily life, in your growth, you write down things that help you.

Explore with yourself what your goals are, what you want to change, what you want to anchor by making it a habit. This doesn't mean you can't use a design, as long as the content is your own. That brings me straight to the next point, but first an example of my own bullet journal learning moment.

A real-life example

This brings me to my early bullet journal days and it's about the year in pixels tracker. I kept seeing this tracker pop up on Instagram and Pinterest is full of it. And honestly, it looks super cute.

I included the tracker in my journal. After 4 months I gave up on it and not even consciously. One day I found out that I had just forgotten to fill out the tracker .... for about 6 weeks now. Clearly someone else's tracker that doesn't suit me, so this one won't be returning to my bullet journal. Previously I wrote an article about the 3 do’s and 3 don’ts for your bullet journal, which incorporates journal keeping and/or tracker. Feel free to take a look to get some more ideas.

2. You don't customize your bullet journal

Why do you keep a tracker? Why have you set goals? I assume to improve, anchor or achieve something right? This is a dynamic process, which means that it is constantly changing. With that, your tracker or intermediate goals should also change.

By using trackers, you get to know yourself a little better. It becomes clear where your points of improvement lie, so you can work on them in a more focused way. It is the intention that you work on it, otherwise it is an useless habit to track. Tracking things in which you want to grow or perhaps just things you want to unlearn, hold a mirror up to you. It is the way it is and with that you are handed a powerful tool. Because what you do not know, you cannot improve. Because you grow, develop and change, it is important to adjust the monitoring of your goals / habits.

I'll give you an example of myself

Since the pandemic, I find that I drink too much coffee during the day. I want to reduce this to 4 cups of 250ml per day. For two months my tracker row of max four cups of coffee was empty ... not once ticked off. Then I wonder, do I really want to adjust my coffee intake or is 4 cups suddenly a bridge too far for me and do I need to take an intermediate step? I chose the latter and set the tracker to 5 cups. Now I can see changes in my tracker and thus in my behavior. It is now a sport not to exceed five and that is already quite an adjustment for me and a step in the right direction.

This makes the transition to the final point very easy.

3. You don't learn from the past

In the previous point, I actually addressed it by giving the example of my coffee tracker. If I hadn't adjusted anything, I wouldn't have taken a step forward and thus learned nothing. By setting up a tracker only for the purpose of coloring boxes and not looking at what that box means, a tracker has zero use.

On the contrary, the idea is to learn, to find out about yourself where your areas of improvement lie and to act accordingly. If you do not want to keep track of this, then perhaps a tracker is not your thing at all. This automatically brings you back to my first point. Instead of copying content from others, check with yourself what you need and set up your bullet journal around that.


A bullet journal doesn't work if you don't use it in a way that suits you. If you take over someone else's goals, because you think it would be nice to keep track of that subject, then it's not yours and chances are you won't stick to it. Sometimes someone else's idea just suits you, of course that happens too. But this article is written for those who don't succeed in using the bullet journal and the points I have described could be a cause.

Further, a bullet journal may not work because you don't learn from your "mistakes" and don't adapt the setup to the new situation created by growth.

A final tip with a call to action

Don't let all the beautiful spreads on Pinterest or whatever social media platform drive you crazy. We all, including me, usually only showcase our most beautiful or fun work with the occasional mistake. That does not change the fact that in that beautiful journal there are also mistakes or rather; learning moments. Nobody and no journal is perfect, because life is not like that.

Did you make a mistake in your journal? Take a picture of it and share it on my Pinterest board

Bullet Journal Mistakes”.

In this way, perhaps we can kick the perfection epidemic down the road a bit.

Please be sure to share your bullet journal experience in the comment section below this post. The more we help and support each other, the more fun the bullet journal community becomes 💜

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