What organization tool should you choose to get organized?
Have you find your planner peace yet or are you still looking for the perfect organization system? I’m not sure the perfect organization system really exists, but as the year is drawing to a close, you may be wondering which planning system you should choose to stay on top of things in 2020. Should you get a planner or finally give the Bullet Journal system a go?
I’m helping you decide with this planner vs bullet journal post today!
Planning in a bullet journal or a planner are 2 different things.
Both systems are great, as long as they fit your needs and the way you plan to use your organization system. So to help you decide if you should get a planner or start a bullet journal in 2020, I listed the pro and cons of each of the 2 systems!
Ready? Let’s dive into it!
Planner VS Bullet journal
Using a planner: pros and cons
What is a planner?
Well no need to spend too much time on this one.
Let’s say that a planner is a paper planning system (notebook or planner refill) with printed layouts.
You can basically find any type of planner as there is a wide variety of them out there. Just Google planner and you’ll see what I mean.
Using a planner: pros
Ready to use
Planners are thoughtfully designed to help you organize your time, and for the best of them, your tasks as well. If you choose it right, your planner should answer your organization needs.
The pre-printed layouts will save you time as everything is ready to use when you receive it. You can focus on what you have on your plate and will probably even forget about the tool itself at some point.
A framework to get organized
Using a planner as your main organization tool gives you a structure to get organized.
The printed layouts will guide your planning process and probably encourage you to take action. A planner is usually designed to help you manage your time and your tasks.
The best of them will also guide you in the process of breaking your big projects into smaller, manageable tasks and doing so, make progress on your work and personal goals.
Using a planner: cons
The downside of having a ready to use planning tool is that the personalization allowed in a planner is limited: you can hack the layouts to make them match your needs, but you can’t change them. Which means that if your needs evolve too much during the year, you’ll get stuck in a system too strict.
Limited free space
If most of the planners feature a few pages of notes to jot down ideas and infos, the free space you will have to take notes or store long lists is limited. Everything that is not tasks or appointments may require a notebook on the side of your planner.
How to choose the right planner?
Here’s what you should look at when you choose a planner:
- Design & purpose:
Depending on the purpose your planner will serve, you will probably choose something a bit different. You won’t get the same planner if you’re looking to use it for personal development or for project planning and productivity.
If you’re looking for a planner that will help you conquer your goals and run personal projects, I recommend you have a look at PROJO – the project journal.
In any case, make sure that the planner you chose will serve your purpose.
- Dated / Undated:
Planners can be either dated or undated. The dated planners are time-bounded as they’re designed to be used for a specific year (civil or academic). On the other hand, the undated planners can be used at any time. Which means that you can purchase and start to use it at any time of the year.
- Layouts featured: most of the planners will feature yearly and monthly calendars. Some will also offer a weekly layout and / or daily planning pages. Make sure that the planner you choose features the basics that you need to get organized.
- Ring / thread binding:
The type of binding of the planner is also an important criteria. You can choose a thread or staples bound planner that will look like a notebook, or decide on a ring binder paired with a planner refill (some ring organizers brands: Gillio Firenze, Filofax…). A ring organizer/binder will usually be a bit more expensive when you get it but allows you to add notes pages and any other pages you may need.
- Size & weight: as said a bit earlier, there is an (almost) unlimited variety of planners. And that also includes the size and the weight of the planner. Depending on your needs, be sure to get a planner that will give you enough space but won’t be too heavy for how you plan to use it (at home / work or on the go).
Planner VS Bullet journal
Using a bullet journal: pros and cons
What is a bullet journal?
A bullet journal is a 100% personalized organization system crafted by its user from a plain notebook and based on Ryder Carroll’s Bullet journal method.
Everything that doesn’t match this definition is NOT a bullet journal. The partly pre-printed so called bullet journals are not bullet journals. And every journal that isn’t based on the bullet journal method is not a bullet journal either.
There is an infinite ways of using the Bullet journal method and to adjust it to specific needs. Which means that there are as many different bullet journals as Bullet journals users. You can’t find 2 bullet journals that are identical.
In fact I’ve been using the Bullet journal system for 4 years until I changed it and started to use PROJO – the project journal (which combines the best of planners and bullet journal) as my main organization tool a bit more than a year ago.
My bullet journal back in January 2018
Starting a bullet journal: pros
A 100% personalized organization system
If you choose to give the Bullet Journal system a try, you will craft your organization system (almost) from scratch. This means that you will be able to decide on every single detail of your planning spreads. You want a weekly habit tracker and a whole page for your monthly to-do list? Done!
And the beauty is that you can make evolve your system and layouts to make them match your needs at any time.
A space to develop your creativity
The bullet journal system will allow you to develop your creativity in two ways:
- The first one is that you’ll be able to get creative by designing the layouts that will fit your wants and needs
- The second one is that you can decide (even though not mandatory at all) to use your bullet journal as an art journal as well, and include lettering, doodles or stickers in your layouts
You can decide on every single detail of your bullet journal!
Typical daily logs in my bullet journal
Starting a bullet journal: cons
Trial – error approach
As you start your bullet journal with just a plain notebook, a pen and Ryder Carroll’s method, you’ll have some work to do to adjust the system to you very specific needs.
Every bullet journal is unique. But don’t make mistake: creating the perfect system will require you to adopt a trial – error approach, and probably change things more than once before you get to the result you want.
So, you can’t expect to have the perfect planning system at once. It will probably take you 3 to 6 months to try various things, learn from your errors and adjust the original bullet journal method to your needs. Consistency and persistence are key to create your perfect bullet journal.
Time spent to layout your planning pages
The downside of having a 100% personalized system that you craft yourself is that… You craft it yourself. Which means that you will spend time to layout your bullet journal before you even start to use it to get organized. And the more fancy you want your bullet journal to be, the more time it will require you spend on setting it up.
Trust me, it’s easy to get lost in all the possibilities the bullet journal has to offer and to end up spending more time on setting it up than on actually getting things done!
How to choose the right notebook for your bullet journal?
Soooo many options of notebooks for a bullet journal!
The Bullet Journal system relies on a notebook and a pen. That’s basically everything that is required to start a minimal bullet journal. The more important in starting your bullet journal is probably the choice of the notebook.
Even though I strongly recommend to try the method in a cheap, simple notebook to see if it’s likely to answer your needs, here are a few things you should consider when choosing a notebook to use as your bullet journal:
- Paper quality:
The quality of the paper of your notebook depends on what you want to do in your bullet journal. If you just want to write with regular pens, a paper starting from 80 gsm should do the trick. But if want to do watercolor in your notebook to decorate it for instance, pick a notebook with a paper that is at least 100gsm. Check the smoothness of the paper as well.
- Size & number of pages: from big A4 notebooks to the miniature A5 ones, you can start a bullet journal in any kind of notebook. Once again, chose the size of your notebook according to the use you will have of it (journaling at home only, or taking your bullet journal everywhere with you).
Look at the number of pages. The more pages your notebook will feature, the longer it will last. But it will also be heavier to carry around.
- Dots / squares / blank pages:
The choice of the type of paper is purely personal. I personally like dotted pages for bullet journaling, but it’s up to you! Just know that blank and ruled pages will ask for an extra effort to layout your spreads.
Make sure to pick a notebook with a strong binding. Thread bound or stapled notebooks are the ones that will last the longer. Glued ones are likely to fall apart before you get to fill all the pages of your notebook.
If you don’t want to look for the perfect notebook for hours, you find my favorite bullet journal supplies right here.
Planner VS Bullet journal: results of the game!
Using a planner: the easy road
Planners are super simple to use.
Everything is ready, and you just have to grab your pen and start to write to get organized.
Planners are thoughtfully designed to guide your planning process and save your time.
You should get a planner if you:
- Want a tool that is ready to use when you get it
- Need some structure to help you get organized
- Don’t mind having your notes in a separate notebook
Using a bullet journal: a 100% personalized organization tool
Starting a bullet journal will lead you to a system that will perfectly fit your needs. It will require a trial error approach to adjust Ryder Carroll’s method and layouts to your needs. A bullet journal is ideal to have everything in one place.
You should start a bullet journal if you:
- Have very specific needs that can’t be answered by a planner
- Want not just an organization tool but also space to unleash your creativity
- Are ok with the idea of spending some time to set it up on a daily basis
The best of the 2 worlds: PROJO
If you want the structure of a planner but you’re not ready to let go of the space and freedom the bullet journal system has to offer, then I recommend you have a look at PROJO – the project journal!
PROJO is a 3-month undated organization system that combines a planning book (P. Book) to organize your time and tasks, and a notes book (N. Book) to store your notes, ideas and lists. The 2 books are kept together in a cover, and work as a whole system.
- Want an organization system that will give you guidance to achieve your goals…
- …but still need free space to take notes and craft lists
- Are both a planner and bullet journal enthusiast and can’t decide between the 2 of them
Then PROJO is probably what you’re looking for!
Have you decided on your 2020 planning tool yet?
Are you in the Planner lovers team, or in the Bullet Journal junkies one?