At first, bullet journals seemed like nothing more than a smoke-and-mirrors case of slick rebranding. Keeping a standard journal seems run-of-the-mill, and so does maintaining a planner, but when you combine the two and give it a buzzy-yet-vague name: BOOM! It’s trendy.
Essentially, it’s a planner-meets-diary hybrid, with a touch of scrapbooking, as you map out to-do lists and your goals, all in one handy journal, because print is NOT DEAD, okay?! (Or you just prefer the tactile experience of crafting your agendas and thoughts, instead of dealing with iPhone notes or Google Keep. Fair enough.)
There’s an index, which helps keep the book organized, along with a long-term planner and a day-by-day to-do list you maintain yourself. From there, you can customize the book however you want, it seems. Some people track their habits (which, to be honest, reminds me of the chore chart many kids had back in the day), graph how they’re saving money, or create lists of things, like movies to see, books to read or playlists for whatever mood they’re in.
The idea behind the “bullet” part is that you make quick, bulleted notes instead of writing long-winded, meandering essays. Though you could certainly include space for the latter, if that helps you process what’s going on in your life, because truthfully, there’s no wrong way to journal. On that note, let’s skip right to the nitty gritty.
The pros: The journal’s a great time capsule of any given year. You can track your long- and short-term goals (something we’re clearly all about on LBW), note your progress, and write out whatever’s on your mind.
The con: You can spend more time thinking about an issue — or writing about your plans to achieve it one day — than actually taking steps toward the goal.
This is the same danger you run into when going down a Pinterest rabbit hole: You spend so much time carefully sketching out a graphic, punchy page outlining your goal, then beautifully illustrating your to-do list, and wind up feeling fulfilled or accomplished for having created that. Without actually coming any closer to accomplishing things. Having a clear-cut plan is awesome, as is creating something that’s so visually appealing you want to return to it again and again, but make sure it doesn’t come at the cost of getting things done. Or that you lose an afternoon to going all Joanna Gaines calligraphy-style on your to-do list, leaving zero time left to, you know, cross anything off said list.
Top photo: Cathryn Levary/Unsplash