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.