Bullet Journal: When You Make Mistakes

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When You Make Mistakes In Your Bullet JournalToday I was siting down to add some things to my bullet journal for March. I had doodled a full-page calendar that worked really well for me in February, so I wanted to incorporate it again in March. I drew the outline, then starting adding days of the week and realized my mistake – who knew there are actually 7 days in a week and not 6?

Bullet Journal Mistake

If you are into bullet journaling, or even planners, you know that sinking feeling when you make a mistake. Many people are too afraid to even start their bullet journal because they fear messing something up in their new notebook. I’m going to share a few ideas for dealing with mistakes, and why they may even be a necessary part of a bullet journal.

Bullet journals differ from traditional planners in that they are almost totally handwritten. That leaves a lot of room for creativity and customization, but also a lot of room for typos and mistakes. There are many in the bullet journal community who are amazing artists, and infinitely creative with their beautiful layouts. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t completely jealous of their skill, but it can make those of us who aren’t natural-born artists feel like our layouts are lacking, or even ugly.

Bullet journaling is simple, and analog at heart. While a bullet journal can be an amazing creative outlet, the heart of the concept is not about doodles or even creativity. It is a simple analog system whose primary task is to keep you organized. If your messy, ugly bullet journal is written with ball-point pen in a notebook from Walmart, but keeps you on track, then you’re doing it right. If your beautifully-illustrated bullet journal is housed in a notebook of French paper clothed in Italian leather, but it keeps you on track, then you’re doing it right, too.

I believe that you should worry about function over form. Your personality will shine through as you figure out what works best for you, but even if you have beautiful layouts but they aren’t functional, your bullet journal isn’t working. Don’t compare yourself to others, do what works for you.

So when you make a mistake – and you will. Probably lots of them. Don’t panic. There are several ways to deal with it.

Bullet Journal Mistake? Turn the page.

One of my favorite features about the bullet journal system is that, since it is housed in a notebook, if something doesn’t work, you can turn the page and move on. In my bullet journal there are tons of layouts that didn’t work, tasks I never completed, and pages I messed up, yet I never see them unless I intentionally flip back to them. Take this as a lesson for bullet journaling and life – if you make a mistake, turn the page and get on with life!

Tearing Out Pages

Some people will go so far as to rip out pages they have made mistakes on. This kind of drives me crazy. First of all, I use a Leuchtturm1917, so the pages are numbered. Does that not bother you to have missing pages?? What do you write in your index? “Pages I ripped out because I misspelled grocery list.” Do what you will, but know that I will secretly judge you if you tear out pages to get rid of mistakes in your bullet journal. Have I ever done it before? yes. *hangs head in shame* And not only did it mess up my page numbers, you could TELL a page had been ripped out.

Gluing, or washi-taping pages together falls under the same category of “WHY???” for me.

Washi Tape to the Rescue

Bullet Journal Washi

One of my most-used methods for dealing with mistakes in my bullet journal is slapping washi tape over the mistake. Not only does it camouflage the problem, it adds some fun color to my page. I’m not an over-user of washi tape in my bullet journal, so you can pretty much bet that if a page has washi tape, it’s because I messed something up. 

Correction Tape

Bullet Journal Correction Tape

Another method I occasionally use is just slipping some correction tape over the mistake. Sometimes an error is too small, or in too-awkward of a place to put washi over it, so I just cover it up. the paper in a Leuchtturm1917 is cream, so it does show up a bit, but I am not particularly bothered by it.

Whichever method you choose for dealing with mistakes in your bullet journal, I would encourage you to focus less on perfection and more on the act of trying. My bullet journals serve as a recap journal of sorts, that I can flip back through and relive certain dates and times. Life isn’t perfect, so why would my bullet journal be? I am about 1/3 of the way through my first notebook for 2016, and the cover is getting a little scuffed. There are some odd stains on some of the pages (darn coffee), and we have covered some of my mistakes and spelling error in depth.But that is who I am! As the Augusten Burroughs quote says, “I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

I have written before about being a recovering perfectionist, and I think having to deal with mistakes in my bullet journal has been a good lesson, and helped me take strides towards trying my best and being ok with whatever the outcome is.

Have you made mistakes in your bullet journal? Did you cover them up, or embrace them as part of the story?

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One Response

  1. I found this page as I searched “tearing out page of bullet journal”! So I will try super hard not to do this, but it is hard when you first start and make mistakes!

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Hi! I'm Melissa!

Melissa is a former hairstylist of 20 years who has a passion for living a simply creative life. She loves inspiring others to pick up a planner and get their lives organized, to clean out a closet and minimize their clutter, and to clean up their physical and mental space to lead their most fulfilled life. She is newly single, a mom, soon to be grandma and crazy dog lady who constantly rewatches The Office.

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