Why I am abandoning my bullet journal (for now)

With a little bit of a heavy heart, I made the decision to abandon my bullet journal for 2020. It wasn’t an easy decision, because deep down in my heart, I love the bullet journal approach, but I came to one eye-opening conclusion last year: when I used it, it worked great, but the truth is, I didn’t use it consistently.

I loved having the freedom of using every new blank page as I pleased, but I often got behind in creating my weekly layouts, then felt like I had to “catch up” on the weeks that I had missed. I know, this is completely NOT the point of a bullet journal, but having a journal with missing “time periods” made me more anxious than a dated planner that I didn’t fill out for a few weeks (if that makes sense). Yes, you guessed it: I am a bit of a perfectionist. Which can be good and bad. 

I am not ready to give up on bullet journals completely, but when the new year was approaching I had to make a very quick decision: do I want to try and keep up the bullet journal or should I cave and buy that pretty (and might I add, very affordable!) planner* I saw at Home Goods?

Well, I decided to buy the planner at Home Goods and use this dated planner in 2020 to establish a more sustainable (for me) routine in using it again. I understand now that I put a bit too much pressure on myself, thinking that I had to create elaborate layouts or trackers or whatnot, even though I know better. I mean, I talked about it previously how you have to make your bullet journal work for you, how you don’t have to use trackers, if you don’t want to, that you don’t have to embellish your pages like crazy to be successful at bullet journaling. But of course, my perfectionism got the best of me.

Or should I say, my desire to do everything 200%? (Insert eye-roll at myself.)

It’s a slow process, friends, but I am learning to let go a little at a time.

The inside of my new planner looks like a lot of basic planners. I fell in love with the pretty cover and the spiral binding. You must know, before I started with bullet journals two years ago, I was a die-hard fan of the Inkwell Press planners. I loved that planner, the spiral binding and the muted color schemes. Unfortunately, they switched their planners to a disc-bound planner system in 2018 and I am just not a fan of the discs (insert sad face). I can’t really explain why, but they are too “bulky” to me. That’s why I gave bullet journaling a try for the last two years.

Well, my new planner has spiral binding and a muted pastel color scheme, so that was part of what sold me on going back to this basic planner. I also really like the simple page layout. I am not crazy about bold colors and too many embellishments. Here’s my new planner’s layout for March. I love the monthly tabs and that each month starts with an inspirational quote.


The monthly overview is great for some general planning.


So far, the weekly layout has provided enough room for all the things I wanted to write down and track, and it even had space to attach my weekly training plan at the top.


I do miss – on a theoretical level – the blank pages of my bullet journal, but every month has a couple of empty notes pages in the back, for anything extra I might have to write down, and so far that has provided me enough space. I don’t really ‘journal’ in my planner, so if I am honest with myself, I don’t really “need” more than a couple of completely blank pages.


And then, there is a double-sided pocket insert in the front that holds my geometric template ruler and some stickers. Very convenient. The only thing this planner misses is a bookmark, but I repurposed a bookmark from an old (Inkwell Press) planner, because it fits the spiral binding. (You can see it poke out just a little on the top there.) Win-win.


So yeah, so far this planner has absolutely served its purpose and I have been using it consistently since the beginning of January, which I am really happy about. I don’t really need a (paper) planner for work (we’re all using Outlook Calendar at my office), so this is strictly a planner for personal stuff (although I will write down field work or other out-of-office work-related appointments). 

I am tracking workouts, water intake, and meal planning in my planner, and write down weekend plans and appointments (although I’ll put those in my calendar app on my phone as well, because I love setting reminders.)

So, there you have it. Let’s see if I can keep this up.

Do you bullet journal or use a regular planner? Or are you all digital at this point?

* #notanad, This is not a sponsored post. I have not been compensated by the brand or anyone else for linking the websites.

  1. I have to admit, I struggled with keeping up on my planner last week a bit …. Like you with your bullet journal, I felt the need of going back and fill in the blanks (which makes no sense but hey….).
    However, overall I love that I can go back and see when this or that appointment took place in January etc. So therefore, I’ll keep my planer going :)

    1. This is one of the reasons I haven’t started bullet journaling. I love the idea, but I worry that I’d spend so much time setting up the different pages and then not actually using it.

      1. Yes. That was exactly my problem (when I even got around to creating layouts!). Do you use a different planner system?

    2. I guess I have to keep talking about it more with you again to keep you focused :)

  2. I get the need to step away. I had neglected my 5-minute journal so much, fully realizing I waste 5 minutes on many other things in a day, by far. Sometimes it takes adjustment. I wonder how your bullet list would love, reborn, based on what you need and can do …

    1. Oh, a 5-minute journal sounds like a great idea.

  3. Your new planner looks cute!
    I use a moleskin type planner which I use for journaling each day and also for a weekly review. Each Monday, I get together with my husband and we discuss the past week – highlights, lowlights, things we were grateful for etc.

    1. Thank you. I have looked into the Moleskin planners as well and I like them. Nice and simple!

  4. I’m a regular planner girl and use it religiously. I tried the bullet journal about a year ago but struggled with it. I can understand it being hard to give up when it’s something you did for a long time though!

    1. Which planner do you use?

  5. Yeah I’m with you. It takes a ton of dedication and it’s so easy to feel behind. I need something with weekly layouts preprinted and ready for the whole year. This is my second year in a Happy Planner and it’s working really well for me. Almost a hybrid bullet journal/planner because of all the available space and how easy it is to add pages.
    Your new planner is really pretty! Enjoy!!

    1. Are you not printing your own planner anymore? I looked at the Happy Planner and it was one of the options I considered. They have a spiral-bound version.

  6. I can see why you decided to go back. I always pondered the bullet journal myself but in the end just itegrated some of the bullet journal spreads in my planner. Actually I wrote them and after 3 years they included the mood tracker now in the printed version. It still leaves room to customize to my needs. I only use a paper planet for my journaling practice. All appointments are handled online though.

    1. Sounds like you found the perfect system for you!

  7. I’ve been using a bullet journal for almost 3 years now. It’s been a great fit for me but I am not at all artistic so I never put pressure on myself to make it ‘pretty.’ The way I use it has changed over the years as I have figured out what works best for me. I primarily use it to meal plan, track workouts, and keep track of appointments, social obligations, and to do lists. I like the free-form approach as I can use it take notes on doctor appointments, for example. And dang, I have a lot of doctor appointments so it’s nice to have at times! My first bullet journal lasted me about 2.5 years, so it’s also a really cheap alternative! I used to get a $50 planner, which I loved and used religiously! But it was pretty big and bulky, so the bullet journal is just an all-around better option for me!

    1. I wish I could have approached bullet journaling like you. I got a ton of inspiration from your posts, before I started. I am just more of a creative person who actually loves to make things pretty, but it sucks when I don’t find the time to do it.

  8. I could never get into bullet journals! Making the layouts weekly or monthly just seemed like too much work for me – even simplified versions. They seem like such a great organizational tool, though. I am using a paper planner now after years of not really using one. I got the one I use at Target and I like it because the weekly spread has room for notes, goals, etc. I’m still not super consistent with using it but I’m trying to get better at it!

    1. It is more work than I thought it would be. I am glad you found a planner that works for you!

  9. If you haven’t already, definitely link this up for Keep It Together. I love that you found a planner that works for you this year. It’s really cute, and I love that it comes with a pocket. I have a bullet journal for keeping track of books read, monthly playlists, etc. but I’m always behind on it. LOL I can’t imagine having one for everyday. I like my Happy Planner for the day-to-day stuff!


    1. I keep forgetting – I need to link up! :) Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Your planner looks great! I’m using a diary/journal which is doubling up as my planner for the moment. I also have a travel journal, my work diary and then a weekly planner I keep for creative ideas that I get for future blog posts.
    What can I say, I like stationery!

    1. Stationery lovers unite! :)

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