I’m sure most of us who use paper planners have fluctuated between systems. When I was in college I used a cheap planner from Target with a horizontal layout so I had plenty of space to keep track of my homework assignments, exams, papers, work schedule at the movie theater and social events. My unicorn at the time was the Erin Condren Life Planner but I wasn’t able to afford my first one until a couple years ago once I had my first post-grad job.
Then last year, Erin Condren released their horizontal layout. I loved their original vertical layout but I hated the color scheme that the vertical planner came in. The horizontal had pretty pastels every month so I bought it knowing that it didn’t really fit my planner style. I was thinking that I could make it work for me. Once it came in the mail, I figured out how to make my own stickers and I had a lot of fun playing around with it.
After a couple of months, I still didn’t really find my groove with the horizontal layout and I felt annoyed with myself. There was no way I was going to dish out another $50+ for a new planner, no matter how much I love the brand. The main problem with the horizontal layout was that it didn’t have enough space for my list-making planning style. Then I rediscovered the bullet journal.
I’ve known of bullet journaling for a few years but I never looked into it (or even tried it!) until I was desperate for a better planning system. If you want to read more about the traditional bullet journal system, you can click here. Anyway, I started looking at Pinterest and found that many bullet journal babes use a Leuchtturm1917 notebook for their planner. When I saw it came in a vibrant raspberry color, I figured I would buy the notebook and give this new planner technique a try.
I started my bullet journal journey a few months ago, in October. Since my notebook is pink, I use pink and purple pens and washi tape to write out and decorate my spreads. I find that I’m more motivated to use a planner if it’s girly and cute inside. By December I found a weekly spread that works well for me (pictured below) and two months later, I’m still sticking with it!
Like every planner system, the bullet journal has it’s good and bad.
- Flexibility – Create any layout you want without having to commit to it. If you hate it, try something different the next day.
- List-makers paradise – The bullet journal method is essentially based on task lists.
- Cheaper alternative to other planning systems – While I am using a notebook that is pricier than the average paper pad, you can start a bullet journal with a simple 99 cent notebook and a pen.
- Beautiful community – The bullet journal community is full of inspiring, awesome people. Two popular bullet journal bloggers that I love following are bohoberry and tinyrayofsunshine. Seriously, check them out!
- Tricky to decorate – I love washi tape, stickers and scrapbook paper but my bullet journal notebook is much smaller than the planners I’ve had in the past. I’m still struggling to come up with a way to use some of the craft supplies I’ve been hoarding to decorate my pages.
- Creating your own spreads can be time consuming – Especially if you’re a perfectionist! It takes me about an hour to draw up all of the weekly spreads that I will need for one month (4 to 5 weekly layouts). However, when I was using a life planner I would spend 30 minutes decorating the upcoming week so overall, it takes me less time each month to set up my bullet journal.
All in all, I’m glad I switched to a cheaper, more flexible system. My bullet journal lets me keep my weekly plan and random lists in one place and I’m always excited to flip it open to draw out a new spread. I personally use grid pages which keep everything aligned and organized; I never was able to write in a perfectly straight line, so having a grid keeps my planner from looking like a wobbly mess.
I like that I can change my weekly spreads on a whim, so if I need to dedicate two pages just for a weekend trip, I can do that without disrupting the flow of my planner. If I want to emulate the vertical layout of a life planner I can do that or I can create a replica of the horizontal layout if that was more my preference. Starting a bullet journal is a cheaper alternative to the expensive planners that are out there and I highly suggest everyone to try it out, especially if you’re a compulsive list-maker like me!
For more planner goodness, check out my other posts here!