Let me start by saying that I love bullet journals…or at least the idea of bullet journals. You know what I don’t love about them? Creating all those fancy-schmancy layouts. Don’t get me wrong, I love those layouts too. I want to have them. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to them. But I just don’t have the patience to create them or to follow through with them which is why I don’t like bullet journals.
It’s true that I really do love bullet journals. I’m so jealous of people who can start a layout and then follow through on it. I’m envious of how neat those journals look. And all those pretty colors? Color me green with envy. There are layouts for social media tracking, the books you’ve read, cleaning, self-care, budgets, and pretty much anything that you want to track. I love the versatility. And I love the creativity of the people who create and share these layouts.
Why Bullet Journals Don’t Work For Me
Let me say up front that my journal of choice is a Moleskine lined journal. I know that bullet journalists prefer the ones with the dots or graphing paper. I can’t stand them because I need notebook lines! Put a blank, unlined page in front of me (which is basically what a dotted journal is) and I’m all over the place. And not in a pretty way.
I started my first bullet journal in 2014. And I know this because I still have it. I learned quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to follow the original bullet journal format of indexing on the first page as I go along. Here’s a video of the original bullet journal concept. A little bare-bones compared to today.
Looked like fun. But it didn’t work out for me. Instead, I started by adding tabs and sectioning off the journal. I had sections for work, for blogging, for wellness for social media, and even monthly calendars.
What a waste of a perfectly fine journal. I loved the tabs, but they didn’t work well for me. There are whole sections that only have one or two pages filled in while other sections are used up completely.
Here’s how my attempts at a bullet journal usually go. I get a brand-new journal and use a pencil and ruler to create a weekly or monthly calendar. My lines go crooked, I erase and re-do and then erase and re-do again, and again. Once I get the lines right, I go back over with my favorite Ink Joy gel pens. (And usually, run outside the lines somehow.)
Then I create some type of spread for blog post ideas or for social media activity which I will use for a day or maybe two. After that? NEVER! Then I try again the following week or the following month. It’s a vicious cycle.
I even bought some pretty stencils to use to make a better-looking spread. Thinking that somehow a pretty layout would make me use it. That’s how desperate I was to create a pretty bullet journal. But even that didn’t work out. When I use the stencils, they don’t always fit the page well, making for a mess. And then I put them away somewhere and now I can’t find them.
I love the versatility. And yet I hate it because I can’t make it work for me.
What I do Instead Of A Bullet Journal
Instead, I just use a journal. Specifically, I use a lined Moleskine soft journal. I used to use the hardcover ones, but they’re heavy, and I like to carry my journal with me wherever I go. I also only use Ink Joy Gel Pens because they can write almost as fast as I can think and I like having color options.
I don’t use any fancy-schmancy layouts. I don’t index. I don’t have a social media tracker. (Ok, sometimes I create a tracker, but can’t manage to get past 5 days of tracking.) I’ve found that I’d rather use an Excel spreadsheet for my trackers. So easy to sort based on different criteria. Can’t do that in a Bullet Journal.
And, I don’t create a calendar in my journal. I used to try, but it never came out the way I wanted. Instead, I use a separate datebook and a Google Calendar to keep track of my schedule. The datebook stays on my desk and I update between the online calendar and the paper datebook to stay on track. I also use the datebook for my blog planner and creating my daily schedule.
My journal is for everything else that doesn’t go into a datebook. I use a simple journal style. It’s called date-order. Each day, I write the day and date at the top of a new page. And then I use that page, and others as needed, to track everything. And I mean everything. I track blog post ideas, quotes, phone numbers, directions (both how to get somewhere and how to do something,) meal planning and recipes, shopping lists, HTML coding for WordPress, To-Do lists, budgets, and whatever else happens to come up. I even start most of my blog posts in the pages of these journals and then finish them up in WordPress.
When I have things I want to refer back to, I’ll mark the page with a mini Post-It note. When the notebook is filled, I store it right on my desk. Mainly because I refer back to them all on a regular basis. Even today, I’m sometimes able to pull a quote or idea that I can use to create a current blog post. I’ve done many brainstorming sessions throughout all of my journals. I never know when something will be just the right thing to write about.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve tried other ways of keeping track of my information, but I always come back to this preferred layout…which is not really a layout at all. It works for me. But I still get Bullet Journal envy and wish that I could not only create some of these beautiful spreads but also have the desire to follow through on them. But alas, it won’t happen. So I keep myself satisfied with my Pinterest Board of Bullet Journal Ideas. I hope you like it.