I am notoriously indecisive. It’s something that I’m working on but it certainly isn’t easy. And if I ever had a doubt about it before, I think my bullet journal accurately reflects just how indecisive I can be. In spite of my constant migration of systems, I am certainly learning something from each one I’ve tried. And surprisingly not just learning how to better streamline my planning or what pens work best for me, but also I’m learning a lot about myself the more I put on paper and the more opportunities I have given myself in using the bullet journal to take the time to sit down with pen and paper and reflect.
So here’s a breakdown of each of the different varieties/systems I’ve used with bullet journaling. In an effort to not make this the longest post ever, I will quickly highlight my personal pros and cons, the length of time which I’ve used them, lessons learned, and why I moved.
*For those of you who prefer video, check out my YouTube video on my Bullet Journal Journey here*
Bullet Journal #1: Moleskine
- The Journal: Large, teal, soft-cover lined notebook.
- Length of time used: February 8, 2016-April 30, 2016
- everything in one place: the original idea behind the bullet journal system
- Familiarity: I’ve used Moleskines for years so it was a familiar and comfortable size notebook.
- Simplicity and Flexibility: Part of this was just due to the nature of the bullet journal system itself, but my Moleskine could be anything I wanted it or didn’t want it to be. It could be minimal, it could be decorated and creative, or anything in between.
- Lines: I wasn’t crazy about using a lined notebook for the bullet journal system, for lack of flexibility and design challenges.
- Binding issues: Perhaps because I loved my bullet journal so much when I first found the system, my Moleskine started to fall apart. I’ve never had this problem with the hard covers, but this was my first (and now I think only) soft cover Moleskine and it didn’t hold up well.
- Losing information: It was a real challenge for me to stay organized in this system. Although I numbered my pages and tried to track them in my index, I just never used my index to its full potential. I tried other organization hacks I’d seen on social media, but none of them proved very effective.
- Lessons Learned: Because this was my first bullet journal, it really helped me find a wide variety of ways to stay on top of things I had always had a hard time with in the past, as well as build new habits and routines I’d been struggling to develop. I figured out what worked for me and what didn’t, what my planner needs were and what my planner wants were. But I also realized I do need some organization beyond the free flow of the traditional bullet journal system and I really missed my ability to future plan effectively.
- Why I moved: I had seen the traveler’s notebooks being used as bullet journals and was really intrigued by the idea. I hadn’t heard of traveler’s notebooks prior to joining the bullet journal world and thought they were not only gorgeous notebooks but also a practical solution to my desire for more organization within my system.
Bullet Journal #2: Traveler’s Notebook
*As I wrote about my Traveler’s Notebook bullet journal at length in a previous post, I’m going to keep this portion very short and straight-forward.*
- Journal: Midori Brown standard size cover with Midori brand inserts (for bullet journaling: 002 grid notebook)
- Length of time used: May 1, 2016-June ??, 2016
- Unifying Separation: The biggest appeal was being able to better organize everything while still having it in one place. I absolutely loved the idea of separate inserts; a place for everything and everything in its place!
- Grid Paper: Finally I had additional lines to use as guides for spreads and neater layouts!
- Variety: There is such a wealth of different inserts you can use in the traveler’s notebook systems, so you can really find and create a system that works for what you need.
- Accessories: In addition to paper inserts, you can buy various folders, pockets and even wallet components for the traveler’s notebooks. Full customization options in every sense. Also, I added some charms to my traveler’s notebook, as many people do. I loved that it was a simple way to personalize my notebook without taking away from the beauty of the leather covers.
- Size: This was something I found I really didn’t like about the standard size traveler’s notebook. It was longer than the Moleskine, which meant it didn’t fit in one of the primary purses I use. While being longer, it was also narrower which made for a shape that wasn’t very comfortable to me. And the real deal breaker: it was heavier.
- I learned quickly that all the separation I was dreaming of came at a price. The traveler’s notebook easily bulks up with more than 2/3 inserts, to the point that inserts stick out or require some fiddling to sit properly. I didn’t like that. While the overhang could be solved with a wider cover, I felt that the system was becoming too cumbersome, which was the opposite of my intentions with bullet journaling to begin with.
- Lessons Learned:
- I love grid paper! I would not have guessed I would care much for using grid paper on a daily basis, but having the grid helped me stay so much neater in my writing and my layout creations.
- I just can’t do big and bulky. Leather covers on planners are gorgeous, but they add too much weight for my taste and ultimately aren’t right for me at this point as my everyday carry.
- Why I moved: In June, I really hit an all around funk- planner and otherwise. I wasn’t keeping with routines I’d worked hard to put into place, tracking habits that had helped me stay on track with my goals, or effectively using my planner system at all. In this time, I realized I just didn’t care for the traverler’s notebook as my planner. I hardly brought it with me, and even got to a point where I was using the insert independently just to have my plans on hand. Additionally, I had gotten about two months out of my first insert which seemed like such a small amount. Ultimately, I missed my bound book planner.
Bullet Journal #3: Hobonichi
- Specs: Hobonichi Techo Weeks, Rivers Edge Edition
- Length of time used: June 24, 2016- ???
- The paper! anyone who knows anything about Hobonichi’s will probably tell yo what amazing paper it has. Tomoe River. It’s amazing. I’ll move on.
- GRID: OK, one more thing about the paper. As mentioned, one big takeaway from the Midori system was realizing how much I enjoyed grid paper. I never would have guessed that, but Hobonichi’s have it so that was a helpful selling point.
- The Note Section: In the back of the Weeks there is over 70 pages (71 for the January start and 75 in the Spring/April start) empty, grid note paper available for use. To me, this mean important spreads I wanted to keep in my bullet journal system would still have a home as well as space for other things I would want to have on hand.
- Structure: While I definitely enjoyed creating some of my spreads in my previous bullet journals, I think I missed some of the structure planners provide, ESPECIALLY when it came to future planning.
- Cons: I’d love to say there are none! But every system has it’s limits and downsides, I think its more a matter of finding out which ones bug you the most and which ones you can deal with the easiest.
- Size: I wasn’t crazy about the long narrow shape/size of the Midori and the weeks is more of the same. Although it is smaller, it’s shape is very reminiscent of the Midori. It’s not bothering me nearly as much as it did in the Midori, but this factor was something that originally put me off of even looking at the weeks as a planner option.
- Lack of Flexibility: Of course being in a planner rather than a notebook or journal means that I am much more limited in creating my own spreads. While I drew some creative pleasure from doing that, I think it was also infringing on my productivity. For now, it doesn’t bother me and I’m having just as much fun seeing how I can work a structured planner system to meet my needs as I did a blank page.
It’s been quite a 6 months! I can’t wait to see what the next 6 months in my planners will be like. I’m making it my goal to stick with my current system for the rest of the year, so we’ll see how it goes!
Thanks for stopping by! Get home safe 😉