Why I hate the Bullet Journal trend

I’m ready to have a whole community against me.

I consider myself to be a somewhat organized person, and I do enjoy learning about any new organizational method that could improve my workflow. I’m always wondering what could possibly be the next trend in the productivity field. Maybe an innovative new app? Or perhaps a crazy sleeping schedule? Or even something related to time-blocking? But turns out it’s a bunch of overly ornamented lists that go by the name Bullet Journal.

Bullet Journal, a quick recap

Now for those that don’t know what a bullet journal is, I’ll try to give a “short” explanation about the productivity system popularized by Ryder Carroll. Essentially, it’s a method designed to declutter your mind by making you write down on a journal all the different tasks, events or goals you may have and/or want to achieve — in bullet points. It revolves around mindfulness and the idea that by writing something it can help you reflect on it and make better decisions.

With this inventory of bullet points, you will then need to separate all those items within a specific system that forces you to be precise with your decisions. Bullet journaling makes it easier for anyone to organize, prioritize and manage tasks. It’s essentially the next level of a to-do list, that is able to show your daily, weekly, and even monthly tasks in a simple and accessible way.

Lastly, instead of a complex app or a digital calendar, this method requires that you use a notebook, or better yet, a journal to keep track of your progress. By using a specific journal just to have these bullet point lists, it encourages you to along the way make any adjustments to the organizational system and adapt the method to better suit your needs.

A List meets Instagram Aesthetic

You may be thinking that since I’m such a fan of productivity and organizational methods, technically I would appreciate such a well-thought-out method. The reality is that at the time, the simplicity of the method caught my eye, but for some reason, I decided to give it a pass. And for the longest time, it didn’t even cross my mind until the Instagram algorithm decided to kick in.

Out of nowhere, one day my Instagram feed was flooded by pictures of these notebooks with gorgeous drawings and funky stickers. It took me a while to realize that all of those beautiful notebooks were actually bullet journals; the simple and minimal list certainly had changed. But none-the-less, this time it had grabbed my attention. As a proud notebook and stationery lover, seeing all these made me happy, and you can even say that inspired me to try it. I decided to buy the cutest notebook and several news pens — that I definitely didn’t need it — so I could jump on the train to Bullet Journal town.

My Bullet Journal

With my new notebook and fancy pens, I was ready to tackle the bullet journal trend. However, the enthusiastic feeling changed when I opened my brand-new notebook and I had those blank pages ready to be written stared at me. My mind was quickly immersed in a sea of internal questions: “What’s my theme? What do I want to track? Should I buy stickers or maybe washi-tape?”. I spent the whole weekend planning my very own bullet journal, going through youtube tutorials and looking at Pinterest albums to try to find something perfect for me.

Now you need to know something about me. I took drawing classes for almost 10 years, and I have been using to-do lists for longer. So, in theory, this should be easy for me. But when I was looking at that blank page, I felt lost and discouraged. I had no idea what I was doing, what to draw or how to make the perfect list. At some point, I found myself freaking out because I messed up the drawing for the cover, and I hadn’t even started to think about the actual to-do list.

After a whole and very stressful weekend, I finally had a somewhat visually pleasant bullet journal, my own tracking system designed by me and just for me. And I managed to keep the system going for a couple of months. But every time I needed to plan a new month, the pressure and stress would come back again. After a while, I stopped having the time and energy to deal with it. Unfortunately, the solution for me was to simplifying my bullet journal theme and aesthetic that took me so long to create. But by the end, in a twisted turn of events, I realized that my final version was, in fact, the original Bullet Journal method.

The problem is the trend, not the method

The pressure of trying to make everything on my bullet journal visually pleasant was too much for me. I was more concern in creating something Instagram friendly, rather than an actual useful thing for me. The idea of using a bullet journal to create something custom made for me was very appealing. But suddenly I was caught in this over complicated maniac trend. Just type “Bullet Journal Inspiration” and you will find a vast of examples with useless lists trackers in the most ridiculous diagrams. And looking at this, I would think that a page full of gradient watercolor feathers and dream-catchers wouldn’t really help you to be productive.

Lists aren’t aesthetic pleasing

From my experience, I don’t think this type of bullet journals actually motivates people to be productive. They are just making you spend more time thinking about stuff like which is the best flower to draw on the cover, than about what tasks you have to do.

Maybe at the end of the day, I’m just jealous that I don’t have the ability (or time) to make those beautiful journals that I see on my Instagram. And I think at some level that’s true. But I’m writing this blog post for those that, just like me, felt overwhelmed and unmotivated when scrolling through Instagram seeing bullet journals that were #goals.

The pressure of doing something visually pleasant shouldn’t be associated with the bullet journal method. You can still have a cute notebook and use a colorful pen, and maybe you can even use those crazy stickers. But if you really want to be organized, I encourage you to read about and try to understand the original bullet journal method and how it can work for you. Go back to basics and learn what the system is all about. You shouldn’t feel bad because you have an “ugly” to-do list, be happy you have one. Don’t be afraid to get ugly.



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