Planning for system breakdowns: a Bullet Journal experiment

This week when I return to work I will officially start my Bullet Journal experiment. While it looks like a good system and has already helped me in some ways, I question whether I will be able to maintain it. Here are some issues that may cause a breakdown in the system, along with some possible solutions to them.


Although I love creating systems and routines, I find maintenance of them rather dull. I need constant proof that a system makes my life easier or I abandon it for something new after a few months at the most.

For this Bullet Journal experiment to work, I am going to have to be aware of any imminent boredom and find ways to tweak the system without tossing it aside completely.


Good habits aren’t easy to form, but so simple to break. Think about a gym-commitment. How many times do you start some exercise program only to stop because for two days in a row, you are too busy to go to the gym? This happens to me all the time at work. My best intentions get trashed because I arrive and have to solve any number of mini (or not so mini) crises.

A top priority for this experiment, therefore, will be at least five minutes a day updating my journal no matter what else is happening.


How can success cause a system breakdown? Simple, if things are going well, I relax. Who needs to be diligent if everything is going well? The phrase “sitting on one’s laurels” comes to mind in this instance. I pat myself on the back, tell myself how awesome I am, and forget that continued success requires more effort.

To combat this possible error in the system, I will need to be aware of any feelings of overconfidence and remember that success comes from constant work; it doesn’t fall out of the sky randomly.

How about you? What issues have caused blips or breakdowns in your own Bullet Journalling projects?

2 Comments for “Planning for system breakdowns: a Bullet Journal experiment”

  1. posted by Elaine on

    I fell in love with Bullet Journaling in 2016 and started using the system full-time that spring. I’m continuing this year, BUT will transition to a Planner Pad system next year.
    I will be sacrificing flexibility and the potential to scribble and doodle at will with as much space as I need in one notebook, but will gain the advantage of someone else (the publisher) having done the repetitive work of laying out the pages, week after week.
    The absolute best thing about ANY planner, at heart, is the opportunity to write down all your plans and tasks in such a way as to not forget them, and ideally get them done. I guess David Allen (Getting Things Done) has a slight edge over Ryder Carroll. For me, at any rate.
    And I can still use markers, color pencils, stickers & wash tape, should I happen to have time. And finally, I can always go back to Bullet Journaling if I want to!

  2. posted by MJ Ray on

    The biggest challenges with journal systems for me have been having the journal with me when I want it without it being vulnerable to damage (water, corner/cover bending, and so on), plus making time at the beginning of the day to plan the journal when I already feel things need doing.

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