Can a Bullet Journal really be effective?

The first time a coworker showed me the Bullet Journal system, I was really hesitant.

Can a bullet journal REALLY be effective?

How can such a manual, analog centered process be more efficient than buying a planner? 

And it’s a question I get asked regularly as well. Even recently, there was an article on Buzzfeed about Bullet Journaling, and many people took to the comments to state things like:

“if these people spent nearly as much time doing the stuff on their list, as they did decorating their list, they’d be done with it by now”

And who knows, maybe there is some truth to that. But I have been exponentially more effective and efficient since switching from a traditional planner system to this one. I forget less. I do more. I always have what I need instead of finding myself saying ‘gosh, I know that little sticky note is somewhere in my bag’.

My second weekly included one page of dailies, along with one master week long to-do list.

Do I spend time making my journal pretty? Yes, I do.

bullet journal monthly spread may

Not every page, and never to avoid doing something else I need to be doing.

My third weekly spread was minimalistic in style, and gave a column to each day of the week, along with a spot for meal planning.

Here are a few reasons it works for me:

  • It can be what I need it to be. I’m not trapped by what was pre-defined for me on a page. If I need a TON of room to write on Tuesday, Tuesday has a ton of space. If I have no major tasks or appointments on Wednesday, Wednesday has a small amount of real estate. Need a brain dump? I can create a spot for that? Working out this week but don’t want to feel guilty for missing a week on vacation? I can include it on one week, but not on another.
  • It’s an outlet. I can relax and color on a page while I unwind at night. It’s a way I am able to feel like a kid again by coloring, ‘stickering’, and overall decorating something that is mine.
  • When something looks pretty, I look at it more. When I look at it more, I am more often reminded of what needs to be done. The more I am reminded to do something, I do it.
  • I prefer pen to paper. As digital as I am (I worked in digital marketing for almost 10 years), there is something so rewarding to me about putting pen to paper. I feel like I am accomplishing more, getting more out of my head, and even retaining more when I know I need to remember something.
  • It’s all-inclusive. I have my notes with my calendar with my brain dump with my list of projects with my go-to meals, and so on. I don’t have multiple places I need to search to find something.
  • It’s easy to carry. It’s small so I can fit it in my purse or work bag so I know I always have a central place to capture things on the go.
  • I don’t feel bad messing up. If I screw up on a page, I can turn the page and start over. I’m not stuck with whatever the page was originally intended for and won’t throw off the overall flow of my planner.

Honestly, I could come up with so many more but I want to go play with my journal now. 🙂


It may not be a system for everyone, and I know that. But I promise you, it’s worth a try before you rule it out if the only reason you are ruling it out is because you think it’s not an effective use of time. You may find yourself surprised, like I was.

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    • That’s awesome Aisha! (Anxiety before is not awesome!) but that your bujo helped you! What are your favorite spreads or things to include in your bujo?

  • I just started my first bullet journal. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I love using it as a place to jot down my ideas (especially for my blog) but I’m not sure about how well it works for me as a day to day planner. I guess it’s just a new routine to get used to. Thanks for your tips

  • I rarely use this expression but: haters gonna hate.
    That quote is from someone who would spend so much time doing the decorating that they’d never get anything done, and they assume that everyone else is just like them. Too much of that kind of thing going on in the world lately.

    If it works for you, go with it. If it doesn’t, live and let live. We don’t need to criticize someone else’s methods just because they are different. Rock on, fellow Bullet Journalers!

  • While I really enjoy your blog posts, I think you need a different blog platform. Your current one is way too ad heavy and has many intrusive entries that make it hard to actually follow your information. I find myself just skipping your posts and wish there was a way to get the information without easing through some really bad clickbait ads.

    • I’m sorry the ads are making it difficult for you to consume the content. Unfortunately, the ads are the only way we can continue to invest the amount of time we do in the site and creating since we both work full time positions.

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