10 Reasons to Start a Bullet Journal

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Maybe it’s because I follow a butt-ton of artists and stationery-related social media accounts but, lately, bullet journals have been popping up everywhere – Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, the most recent Paper Source catalog. Considering its Pinterest-esque spreads and promise of an organized and productive life, I’m not surprised one bit.

At its core, the bullet journal is a simple but effective productivity tool that helps organize tasks, events, and notes. One of its selling points is the fact that it’s incredibly customizable to fit your needs. And that’s where potential newcomers get intimidated or even cynical towards bullet journals.

Looking at some of the photos on social media, I can see where people get the idea that you need loads of free time, fancy stationery, and a creative eye to start a bullet journal. And that’s probably true to some extent, that is, if you want picture-perfect spreads. But you know what’s also true? The only things you really need to start a bullet journal are a pen, a notebook, and a reason to use it. Or two. Heck, have ten!

1 | You want to be more productive.

This is pretty much a given for anyone who’s looking to start a new planning system. What set the bullet journal apart, however, are its concepts of rapid logging and migration. Instead of listing out tasks to fill up an allotted section in a planner, you’re organizing your entries in a way that’ll help you distinguish what’s urgent, what’s important, and what’s just there to take up space.

2 | And creative, too!

I’ll probably face-palm myself later for this cliché comparison, but a bullet journal is basically a blank canvas. It’s a wonderful artistic outlet, with spreads that can range from minimalist to full-on scrapbooking-mom-mode and everything in between. Creativity can also extend beyond appearances to include clever hacks, add-ons, and even modifications to the original system.

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3 | DIY projects are your thing.

You don’t have to be creative to enjoy DIY projects and the sense of accomplishment that comes from not having to buy their overpriced counterparts. Depending on the type of notebook you use, the bullet journal can be a budget-friendly way to create your perfect planning system. Since it starts out blank, you have complete control over what goes inside. The only way this can get more DIY-y is if you use a notebook that you bound yourself.

4 | You have a bunch of to-do lists laying around.

The bullet journal is like one giant and leveled-up to-do list, really. By having all your lists in one place, you’re able to refer to tasks you didn’t finish the day before, migrate them to future dates if needed, and easily plan out what to prioritize the following days, weeks, and even months.  

5 | You love lists in general.

Did your friend just recommend a good place for brunch? Or maybe a show to binge-watch on Netflix? Sure, you can make a note on your phone or scribble it on a napkin, but how likely are you going to remember to go back to it? Bullet journal collection pages are perfect for keeping track of all the books, movies, shows, and places that you’re interested in.  You can even customize it to include ratings or track the progress you’ve made on a series.

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6 | You have goals, habits, and projects that you want to keep track of.

Bullet journals aren’t just for lists. Many avid bullet journalists use their journals to keep track of habits, meals, expenses, moods – you name it. There are countless ways to approach these pages. And because you set up the bullet journal from scratch, you can create spreads that fully cater to your needs in ways that best suit your lifestyle.

7 | You struggle to maintain a planner.

I do love the idea of planners, but I’m awful when it comes to using them on the actual marked dates. I can’t even begin to count how many planners I’ve stopped using halfway through the year (I’m so sorry, trees). With the bullet journal, no page goes to waste. You can skip a day, a week, or even a month, and pick up where you left off without having empty spaces reminding you of your inconsistency.  While it’s ideal to use your bullet journal as often as possible, sometimes, you just forget or you're not in the mood.

8| You like having everything in one place.

There are specific journals for everything these days – food logs, goal trackers, gratitude journals. While some people like having designated notebooks for different purposes, others might not want to rely on so many notebooks that’ll only take up space and empty their wallets. With collection pages and modifications, you can manage many areas of your life in one convenient book. Just make sure not to lose it!

9 | You need a break from all things digital.

Tablets and mobile devices are convenient, but even they have their limits. If you don’t like staring at a screen all the time or having to rely on technology to function, the bullet journal (or any journal for that matter) can help alleviate eye strain while still keeping your life organized. Plus, there’s something therapeutic about keeping a journal.

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10 | You love stationery.                                

I’d be lying if I said that this wasn’t the main reason I started using the bullet journal, but hey, it worked out! Decorating a bullet journal is an excellent way to put all those washi tapes, stickers, sticky notes, and colorful pens to good use. Just a few words of caution: don’t get too caught up on the decorating that it takes away from the intended purposes of your bullet journal!  

If any of these reasons apply to you, it’s worth looking into the bullet journal as your next planning system! The great news is that you don’t have to wait until a new year to start. You don’t even have to wait until the start of a new month. Just grab a notebook and a pen, and start journaling today! Sure, slightly more work goes into starting and maintaining a bullet journal, but you know yourself better than any planner manufacturers do. And that extra effort can be the difference between a decent planner and your personal assistant.