Reasons NOT to Start Bullet Journaling

29 Oct , 2017  

Between the blog and Google Calendar and my stash of $0.99 purple-covered composition books from Wal-Mart, I was doing just fine keeping up with the chronicles of daily life, various appointments, and the to-do list. I didn’t need a Bullet Journal. I didn’t want a Bullet Journal. I’d resisted the siren call to even return to the Day Timer ever since they closed my favorite brick-and-mortar store, got trendy, and doubled their prices.

And then my daughter mentioned she’d gotten into Bullet Journaling.

I was intrigued. Thus far, I’d resisted the siren call of the BuJo Cult, but with my daughter singing its praises, how could I remain on the outside, looking in?

Now, I’m sitting here, mentally paralyzed by the intimidatingly pristine blank pages of three lovely Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, surrounded by vibrant, smooth, fine-liners in ten assorted colors, and a cheap twelve-pack of stencils to make my own organizing layouts, wondering what I’ve done to my brain.

This is not healthy. Of course, at its most most basic minimalism, Bullet Journaling is exactly what I’ve been happily doing in those $0.99 composition books all along. It is meant to be simple. It wasn’t designed to be a competitive, artistic sport. And it suits the creative rebellion I always felt in trying to fit my mind-maps into Day Timer’s pre-made page templates and system. I just didn’t have a name for it. I only had two “signifiers” – a bullet or a checkmark. To-do, and done. Best of all, I could rip out pages. I could scrap the whole thing and start over if it got too messy. I could doodle up the margins, scribble notes during meetings, get all anal-retentive about my hand-writing, and not worry about presenting it as an artful, coherent whole. At $0.99, I could give myself permission to write utter crap and get stuff done. I was beating the perfectionism monster at its own game. I was almost free.

But you don’t do that in an archival-quality, hard-bound, bookmark-festooned, purple journal that comes with an expanding storage compartment for your damned stencils. And you certainly don’t do it when you’ve invested time and effort in gussying it up with “layouts” and colorful doodles and bits of flotsam and jetsam your brain’s dropped into “collections” and indexed. This is exactly why I always bought Day Timers with five-ring binders and removable pages, and exactly why I have a dozen cheap composition books from Wal-Mart.

Dare I point out that the Index belongs at the back of the book, or that odd-numbered pages belong on the right-hand side?

Dare I gripe about the iPhone bigotry and there being no Android app, when the whole point of this is to go back to basics, pen, and paper?

To add insult to injury, I found the Bullet Journalers’ NaNoWriMo layout videos.

Dear Diary-from-Hell, I can’t do this. 

I’m also taking part in the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge
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25 Responses

  1. And herein we also see a hint of why I can never, ever get a tattoo.

  2. Well, I can some that up in one sentence. “Because EVEVERONE ELSE is doing it.” But, that wouldn’t make a blog post, and isn’t very creative or expressive.

  3. Laura Routh says:

    I agree with you, Holly! I use spiral notebooks from the grocery store. And I enjoy ripping out pages, too. Besides, sometimes the family budget gets mixed in with writing notes, and it’s nice to be able to get rid of those pages so easily. I also like to strike through lines that stink and insert better ones. But what’s nice is that you still have those rejected bits as cues for future ideas. For me, when I’m not at the computer, writing is a messy process, and that’s the way I want it to stay. There’s nothing more thrilling than getting an idea while I’m out and about and coming home to quickly dash it off in a cheap lined journal.

    • Yes! It can’t take on too much importance or it becomes THE THING, not the aid in support of THE THING. I will probably use the Leuchtturm for actual journaling. But I’m sticking with the composition books, for now, for planning.

  4. Totally feel this Holly! I looked it up, turned it over in my mind and then decided it was just too complicated and since I am seriously in the process of simplifying everything in my life, this was definitely on the “no” list.

  5. Mike Goad says:

    I never heard of bullet journaling until reading this post. I have recently started using an old hard cover journal that was mostly blank for making lists, mainly lists of blogging ideas since I am ramping up my blogging as I near the beginning of full retirement. I, too, looked it up, very briefly, and I can’t see it in my future. I’ve tried to-do lists in the past and they never lasted very long. I’m more of a post-it note kind of guy — the list of blogging ideas was transferred from a post-it note. One of the ideas on the list is a post about the list. Others include, “old Jeans that Now Fit Again,” “Facebook Friends who are never on Facebook,” and a couple of posts about books I am currently reading — or plan to read.

    • Hmmm. Sounds suspiciously like exactly what i think bullet journaling was SUPPOSED tho be before it met scrapbooking and pen fetishes. I think you’re doing it right, Mike.

  6. This post made me laugh out loud, Holly. As an unorganized record keeper, I have book calendars, the Google calendar, a prioritized To Do List on Word, notebooks, and a once-in-a-while journal. And little notes on scrap paper all over the place. Now here’s Holly dangling the bullet journal in front of my nose. Just what I needed. 😀

  7. Akshata Ram says:

    The bullet journal- I cant recall the last time I wrote using paper- I have a terrible handwriting which I cant read myself- no bullet journey for me Holly!

  8. Meha Sharma says:

    This was a fun post Holly. I make a ‘ to do list’ to keep a track.if the things that I need to do. Though, it does not ensure that I get around to doing them on time. But, jotting them down makes you feel good 🙂

  9. Meha Sharma says:

    * keep a track of the things

  10. Ryan says:

    Oh I love the To Do list…. Especially when I finish a task, the pleasure I get while I strike out an item from my list can’t be explained hehe… But this is the first time I heard about bullet journalling. Will probably give this one a pass though.

  11. vinodinii says:

    I rely on post-its coz I can stick them somewhere I can see them everyday. It helps me get the important things out of the way. Bullet journaling sounds a bit complicated the way you describe it.

    • I’m SURE it really wasn’t meant to be, as originally designed. The header photo shows all there REALLY is to it – just a bulleted to do list or four. (Future, Today, something something something…) but if you search #bulletjournal on Instagram, you’ll go straight down the rabbit hole and kind of hate everyone for a while.

      I’m sticking with my cheap composition books and happy pens.

  12. mahekg says:

    I have the habit on some days to write and somedays to remember but a simple book does the job

  13. Oh, Holly! I was laughing as I read this! I’ve seen all the gorgeous bullet journal layouts that look so fab! But, despite being artistically inclined, it just didn’t make sense to me. I tried it – minus fancy layouts, just the basic system of using symbols, an index, and collections – and I found it complicated and frustrating! I prefer making my own journals or using a handmade journal to just write whenever I feel like it!

    • Thank you, Shinjini! I think some of us need simple to-do lists and want our ART to mean something. And for some of us, there’s a cognitive disconnect: planners and journals aren’t meant to be SEEN, so why gussy them up like this at all? Oh, the paralysis!

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