Why I Started Using a Digital Bullet Journal
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Change is Strange
Ever since I started messing around with a digital bullet journal back in last autumn, I’ve heard tons of people question it. Why move away from a paper bullet journal? Why use something so very different? What’s wrong with a paper journal?
I can understand why there is so much confusion. After all, I’ve been blogging about my paper bullet journal system since 2016. So what changed? Quite a lot, actually. Let me tell you why I started using a digital bullet journal and how it fits into my overall planning system.
Paper Wasn’t Cutting It
My bullet journal stopped working. At least, it stopped working as well as it used to. For a long time, I used my bullet journal enthusiastically every day. It helped me develop habits, find my passion, and grow my creativity tenfold. But after a while, the power started to wane. I found that I was less drawn toward my bullet journal, and subsequently lost some of my productivity. After this luster didn’t come back for some months, I switched it up with my watercolor planner. This helped for a while, giving me something new to tinker with and explore. But at the end of the day, my watercolor planner wasn’t a great long-term solution.
I believe the reason my bullet journal began to fail was that I had thoroughly conquered it. Every spread I could get my hands on, every pen, every hack, tip, and trick… I tried it all. I didn’t only try it all, but I wrote about it all, too. There simply wasn’t anything left for me to learn. If there is one thing I have learned about myself, it’s that I need to have some element of learning in order to feel attracted to a passion or hobby.
On top of all of that, I was showcasing every page with my audience. I love sharing, but social media can be a double-edged sword. Month after month, spread after spread, I began to feel like I was producing a product for a consumer base. I felt crushed by the ever-turning gears of the almighty algorithm. The pressure to create something new after years and years was intense, and I just couldn’t keep it up. I needed a reprieve.
My Digital Bullet Journal
After my watercolor planner, I cast about for a new planning system that could let me be creative and learn a whole new set of skills. That’s when I decided to give a digital bullet journal a try. I’ve been wanting an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil for some time, so it fit rather well. I bought the Goodnotes and Procreate apps and began playing away. I found it fascinating and engaging. Unfortunately, I tried diving into this new endeavor just before the holiday season, which is by far the busiest time of year personally and professionally. Creative pursuits were shoved aside in favor of utilitarianism, and I didn’t have time to properly jump into my new digital bullet journal.
As you might expect, this did not work for me. Again, I was missing the essential creativity element. I wasn’t clicking with this new system. Of course, I now realize that it wasn’t a fault in the system, but in the way I was using it. Of course, I didn’t enjoy my digital bullet journal when I was using it as a glorified notepad!
Again, I bounced back to my paper bullet journal to try and figure out what to do next.
Then, just last month, I was struck by a bolt of lightning. Instead of using the digital bullet journal or the paper one, why not use both? I realized that I can use my digital bullet journal with work tasks and events. My paper bullet journal could continue being a place for personal notes, collections, and brain dumps. I can finally get a clean split between my professional and personal life once and for all!
Plus I recently discovered a fairly simple way to create totally unique marble patterns in Procreate. This totally new art form has hooked me, and it gives me something exciting to explore with my digital bullet journal. Hopefully, I can continue to explore my curiosity in the digital realm for years to come!
When it comes to my planning system, I have to stay on my toes. Maybe others are like this, or perhaps I’m one of the weird ones. No matter how exhausting and frustrating this process is, I must keep tinkering and toying with my system to keep it fresh. If I want to stay organized and productive, then this is the burden I must bear. So for now, the digital bullet journal is my new frontier and I am excited to take it on. Who knows what I’ll learn or how I’ll grow? My needs change, my brain changes, and the way I take on new challenges must change, too. Let’s see where this journey will take me.
Shelby, you need to do what works for you! Having thrown over one planner system in the middle of the year because I realized the awful quality of paper discouraged me from using and now having gone through annual changes from the “new” planner I took up with, I applaud you for trying what works for you, especially so publicly. A planning system is a relationship, or at least a mirror of one — the one between you and your mind — and it has to suit you. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
Thank you for your support! 🙂 It is really nice to hear that I’m not the only one who is constantly changing their system.
I have enjoyed following your journey for bullet journaling but really don’t have a desire to go digital myself. I work all day digitally and enjoy working offline and analog personally. All the best-
I completely understand. That is a big part of why I don’t think I could ever completely give up my paper bullet journal.
Congratulations on trying something new! Not always an easy move to make – especially with many people ‘watching’ you online!
You are such a talented, creative young entrepreneur. Don’t apologize for finding another way to do this life with new gadgets and new skills to conquer. That right brain/left brain balance is very fluid and compelling. I know…I raised someone like you. You already know that just when you think you’ve learned the steps to the “dance” the rhythm will change.
I’m in my mid 60’s and just learning about Bullet Journaling. Still slaying the paper dragon, so to speak. You’ve left plenty of directions, and even some shortcuts to try. I’m enjoying the basics, so don’t slow your pace for me. I’ll get to where you are someday, and that’s as it should be. Right now, though, I must thank you for what you’ve taught me and then cheer you on. “You GO Girl! And have fun along the way! Keep blogging and learning new dances, because that is what makes this life so much fun.”
Thank you so much for your comment. Your comment had me smiling ear to ear. 🙂 I’m excited to keep expanding on what works for me, and learning new dances!
You aren’t alone in the multi-journal, multi-format journaling journey. I have several journals, some digital, some paper, some written, some drawn, one that is calendar-based, others that have calendars as secondary elements. Like you, I can’t use just one journal nor one format. My journaling has evolved into this multi-journal system, and may keep changing, who knows. As for now, I love my system. It has taken years to develop, and while it seems “stable” for now, It seems to take a twist or turn nearly every year as I adjust, adapt, add, or even subtract from it. Enjoy your journey! That’s part of the fun of journaling…we never know where it will take us.
Thank you Gayle! It’s nice to know that I am not the only one that is constantly changing my journaling system. I’m really hopeful that this digital bullet journal will give me the flexibility I need going forward.
Hopefully you’ll still share your collections and maybe some cool digital stuff too! Maybe you’ll start a trend here at Little Coffee Fox!
You inspire me to try the digital bullet julournal too! I am grateful to know it even us possible! As a person newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, my handwriting is one of my biggest issues. So I will be interested in learning more now. Thanks!!!
I’m sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis! With that in mind, I should warn you that my biggest complaint with the Goodnotes app is that it makes my handwriting look worse than it does on paper. It just catches every single little movement and makes the writing jittery. However, there are several other apps that might do better on this front, like Notability. I’ve never tried it, but it might be better on that front. Also, for your headers and other decorations, you can create them all in Procreate and increase the “streamline” setting on your brush to help smooth out imperfections. Then save the lettering as a PNG onto your iPad and import it just like I did with my calendar in the video. I hope that helps!