Bullet journals or BuJo for shorts have been the talk of the journaling world for a number of years now and for good reasons.
They have revolutionised the way we plan and sort our lives. They also offer a lot of flexibility in terms of what goes in them, and they can be as messy or pretty as you want them to be. Elaborate or plain, practical or decorative? It's really entirely up to the journal keeper.
But! Is the bullet journal method really a right fit for everyone?
I'm writing this as I made the decision NOT to keep a BuJo in 2023 and go back to a most conventional, pre-printed planner after 5 years of bullet journalling. Many of you came to my website and blog looking for BuJoing tips over the years, including where to find supplies in India and here I am, telling you all I'm giving up on Bullet Journalling. I have my reasons, and I'll explain further down, first I want to walk you through what the whole BuJo method is all about.
so, what is a bullet journal exactly?
A BuJo is a notebook in which you plan your life and schedule in a flexible way that works for you. Ryder Caroll the creator of the method and author of the book "The Bullet Journal Method" (Amazon affiliate link) explained his method in a nutshell in this YouTube video.
Of course his way is minimalist, basic and doesn't work for everyone, this is why many have gone further and Pinterest is now flooded with elaborate spreads and trackers and themes and ideas to make your BuJo work for you and reflect your personality. What it is though, no matter the look, is a flexible way to plan your life and track what is important to you. You might go through trials and errors trying to figure out what works and doesn't work, but all in all it's a great self discovery tool and cool way to keep track of your to-do list and habits your want to form. If the Swiss Army knife had a journal equivalent, it probably would be the Bullet Journal, because it can hold your appointment, tasks, help you track certain habits, reflect on your life and log things like things you are grateful for all in one place.
Does it have to look pretty?
Seeing all those super elaborate spreads on Pinterest and Instagram, you might be wondering if you are even cut out for it, or if it is worth your time at all, especially if you aren't artsy or creative enough to doodle and color pages of spreads to follow a theme. The good news, is you don't have to keep it visually pleasing, elaborate or intricate at all. The past 3 years I had less and less time to devote to doodling and relied on washi tape and stickers (which you can find free on the Freebie page).
You also do not have to do all the trackers and logs you find online, this method is meant to be tailored for your needs. So if you don't care about tracking your mood, you don't need to include a mood tracker at all.
the bullet journal method is a right fit if:
- Conventional planners limit you in anyway and never seem to have all the space you need to log things that matter to you
- If you want to have all the infos like expenses, personal growth and your daily schedule in one book
- If you are tracking certain habits in order to make change
- If you need something more visually appealing than a regular planner to remember things (some of us have a strong visual memory)
- If you like the idea of spending a few hours each months planning and decorating your BuJo and like to play with stickers, markers and washi tape but don't have time to keep a separate art journal.
here is why it no longer works for me
I love journalling, I love pretty pages, and I am absolutely ADDICTED to all things notebooks, but this year, I found the BuJo is no longer the right fit for me.
I got into so many different creative projects, that often, I feel like setting up visually appealing pages and weekly spreads that would help me plan my schedule is something I constantly postpone until the last minute and then I rush to get it done and it stresses the hell out of me. Over the years I also realised I don't care much about trackers, and I prefer writing my grateful moments, my successes and struggle in what I call my "life journal" and thanks to a busier schedule, I often myself find thrown between my BuJo and my other journal and I realised I'd much rather have time to write in said journal than work on my bullet journal, which has become more and more of a regular planner.
Over the years, conventional planners have evolved a lot and there are now many options that are super cute, visually appealing, come with notes pages and trackers pre-printed and the idea of no longer have to write all the dates and make all the spreads from scratch is a a very appealing thing to me. I need the visual, the doodles, the stickers and stuff to remember things, but I don't need to be the one creating it all from scratch. I'm in a place right now where the way my Bujo would need to look to be useful to me is also no longer saving me time but consuming huge chunks of it I'd rather spend doing something else. Plus I can still use washi tape and stickers in both a conventional planner and my life journal so the part I still like doing can be done in other notebooks.
All in all, I think it's entirely possible and acceptable to outgrow the bullet journal method and not feel like a failure or like you are missing out turning your back on it. It was fine while it worked for me, I grew a lot, had lots of fun, stayed on top of things, but now I have gone beyond and ready to try a different way to plan my daily tasks and log my appointment. If for any reasons the BuJo does not work for it, it's perfectly ok to move on to another system.