Bullet Journal Vs Planner – Which one do you need?


For a long time, I shied away from the Journal and Planner craze. I tried to keep up with tasks online or just using notebooks and lists. It sort of worked? But at the beginning of the year, I made it a point to be better organized. I started with an organizer on the fridge – Getting Organized in 2018 and then moved on to starting a Bullet Journal on the advice of a good friend of mine. I took my time picking my journal and I love it. In theory, a bullet journal can also be a planner but after receiving a Passion Planner I realized that they each have their own strengths. Today’s post is an attempt to answer the age-old question of – Journal Vs Planner – Which one do you need?

Journal Vs Planner – Which one do you need?


the journal vs planner debate is pretty fierce! People seem to stand on one side or the other. There are planner people and there are journal people. Both sides seem to get pretty upset if you call your journal as a planner or your planner a journal.

Honestly, I love both and I use both on a regular basis. I have found that both planners and journals excel at completely different things and while it is technically possible to make both of them work as a combination journal/planner it’s much easier and productive to let them shine for their unique strengths.

Bullet Journal – The Breakdown

journal vs planners may spread

I love my bullet journal and I use it religiously! However, I found it was tedious to use for planning out my blog or weekly schedule. I could spend a few hours marking out weekly calendars and events but it felt like I was using up a lot of time for mundane tasks that didn’t necessarily deserve a spot in my Journal. I wanted my journal to be pretty – not marked up with blog post scribbles and scheduling changes.

Time can be saved using the tips outlined in our article Top 5 Tools for Bullet Journaling but I still didn’t think some of these tasks should be taking up space in my journal. I also found I wasn’t planning quite the way I should be, I was making a list of blog post idea’s and marking them down. But I wasn’t scheduling a time to actually write them or take photos.

What My Bullet Journal is great for

So, my bullet journal wasn’t great for planning structured activities. But it WAS great for bigger more life-based activities. I might not have been keeping track of my time in my journal but I was keeping a running log and my monthly calendar spread contained all the exciting things that happened.

My bullet journal keep’s track of my saving goals, my wishlist, and my mood. Although I can buy sticker sets to keep track of all of this in my planner there is no perfect place to do so. And it’s not as satisfying to look at a weekly tracker in my planner as it was to see a yearly spread in my journal.

I also love my Bullet Journal because I use it as a creative outlet. I doodle new theme’s every month, place stickers that match fun events and track fun new year-long goals like books to read or TV series to watch. It’s something I can do while I watch Tv with the family or when I’m feeling artistic.

Planner – The Breakdown

journal vs plannersCurrently, I am using a Passion Planner. There are many different brands out there to try but my Passion Planner works very well for me. While many people keep track of larger goals in their planners it never felt intuitive to me. My planner has blank spaces where I could put trackers. But, since everything is laid out by month or week those spaces tend to fill up with more current information.

Many planners have space in the back with blank pages but I don’t like having to flip to the back to find my trackers. It made them feel like second thoughts. Likewise, while you can certainly make your planner beautiful – and many people do, I never felt like I had the freedom of creativity I have with my journal.

What my Planner is Great for

My planner wasn’t fulfilling my desire to be creative. Nor was it a great space to keep track of larger goals – but it turned out to be amazing at keeping up with day to day activities. Household chores, remembering which bills were due on what day and scheduling time to work on my blog posts. My planner is perfect for these mundane tasks – and I can scribble, cross out and rewrite things without the pressure to make it look pretty.

Planners, especially hourly planners, excel at keeping you on track with day to day activities. I find that they are perfect for keeping me focused on the present and the here and now. I use my planner to keep track of prime social media time, photoshoot time and writing time. Using planner for my blog work has made a huge difference in my productivity on a day to day basis.

Journal vs Planner – The Pros and Cons

Bullet Journal


  • Creative outlet
  • Blank pages mean you can tailor it to match your life
  • Great for longterm trackers and yearly goals
  • Great for monthly spreads and recording special events
  • A Great way to create a beautiful ‘Year in review’ memory log


  • Can be tedious and time-consuming to create weekly/hourly spreads
  • Does not always keep you focused on the present
  • Isn’t always suited to more scheduled events



  • Scheduling day to day activity and keeping up with more mundane tasks
  • Hourly scheduling allows you to time block for increased productivity
  • Keeps you focused on what you need to do today – not a month from now
  • allows space to plan without the pressure of making it look perfect
  • Premade pages mean less time setting up.


  • Harder to be creative
  • Can be harder to see the big picture view for year-long goals.
  • Pre-structured pages mean some space might just be left blank.

Journal Vs Planner – The Conclusion

journal vs planner


As you can see, both journals and planners are extremely useful. Both of them help keep up focused and organized they just do so in different ways. I use both – my Bullet Journal functions as a life tracker, it’s a year-long record of how I am doing and what I am planning for. My planner functions as a day to day task scheduler. It keeps me focused on what I need to do at the moment to make my year-long goals a reality. Working together they make quite the team. I will likely continue to use one of each in the years to come.

If you only want to start one, however, then you ultimately need to look at where you struggle the most. Do you need to focus on long-term goals or feel a creative itch that needs to be scratched? Then a Bullet Journal is probably your best bet. If you struggle to get daily tasks accomplished or keep track of more present-day goals then a planner is probably for you.

Where do you stand on the Journal vs Planner debate?

Journal vs Planner - which one do you need?< />
journal vs planner, which one is best for you?< />



  1. This is great. I have used planners and bullet journals over the last couple of years, but never at the same time. However, recently I have realized that I sort of need both. I definitely agree that bullet journals lend to more creativity, but I find that consumes so much time trying to make everything look pretty but still be functional – especially if your are skills are lacking. There is definitely a balance to be found with them.

    1. Author

      Yes! I found that trying to do pretty weekly spreads was too much. So I use my planner for the weekly stuff which I can just scribble down as needed and the bullet journals for larger monthly spread and trackers. I still get the creative fun but without having to spend a bunch of time on it ever week.

  2. I use both, but not very well. I find that the bullet journal helps me form habits easier, helps with my creativity and allows me to dream. My planner is more structured and helps focus my time, money and events. I like them both but haven’t found a favorite yet.

    1. Author

      That’s pretty close to how I use both of mine too! I love them both for completely different reasons I don’t think I can pick a favorite either!

  3. I’d go the bullet journal rote Kharris only because bullet points or journals add more order to my mind. Like magic really LOL. Getting my words down in little finite spaces helps me organize my thoughts so I proceed in calm, peaceful fashion. Weird thing I have 😉 Super comparison here.


    1. Author

      Thanks so much! I enjoy a good bullet point list to keep me on track as well. I m a firm believer in everyone finding and using what works best for them. Keep on journaling my friend =-)

    1. Author

      I love my journal but I feel you on the patience thing. Sometimes I just want to scribble down a plan!

  4. I loved this round up! I’ll be honest, I use both! A planner for appointments, meetings and daily life and a bullet journal for blog related things, to do lists and goals that are larger or don’t have to be on a set time. I think they’re both incredibly useful! x

    1. Author

      Completely Agree! This sound pretty close to how I use my journal and planner =-)

  5. I’m the same as you, I like both! The bullet journal is great for creativity and goals. The planner is useful for day-to-day plans and jotting down appointments etc. I’d love to spend more time on the bullet journal making it all pretty but sometimes the planner is the most practical option. I love your May design, the flowers are gorgeous 💖 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    1. Author

      Thank you! since I only do monthly spreads in my bullet journal I can take the time to really have fun with them. The May Flowers design has been one of my favorites so far, even if the flowers were a pain to draw =-)

  6. I use a planner although have always admired the bullet journals I see online and in people’s posts. I’m not overly creative so it’s always put me off starting a bullet journal! At the moment my planner works for me but I may in the future give a journal a go. Great detailed post thanks for sharing 😃

    Melanie | http://www.frasersfunhouse.com

    1. Author

      I know what you mean. I was wary of starting a bullet journal too as I felt I lacked creativity but I have found creativity tends to grow the more you use it! Also, there are so many wonderful tools out there now that artistic ability is not at all limiting. You can make some really beautiful pages with a few stickers and stencils!

  7. This is such an interesting post, makes me want to start using a planner! Xx

    1. Author

      You should give it a try =-) The worst that happens is that it doesn’t work out and you have a glorified notebook sitting around. The best is a really great new way to keep focused on projects =-)

  8. Great post! I like both like you, but I have to say overall I am a planner person. I tried a bullet journal but i’m not a particularly artistic person so found it stressful trying to keep it pretty and colourful!

    1. Author

      In the end whatever works best for you is the way to go! I found that although I like hand drawing things on my monthly spreads sometimes it just doesn’t work so stickers and stencils come to the rescue. It really takes the pressure off of having to make something beautiful based on my own ability. It also got easier when I remembered that my journal is for me, I don’t have to share it and no one will ever see it but me unless I want them too =-) there are some disastrous pages in my journal that will never see the light of day! But it’s okay, I just see them as part of my journey, not mistakes.

  9. Oh my goodness you’re so organised! I’ve been wanting to start a BuJo for ages but just haven’t found the time. I love being creative though so I think it would definitely suit me more than the planner! Such a helpful post- https://sophiehearts.net x

    1. Author

      The organization is a new skill. I went through most of my life as a scatterbrained mess and honestly, there are some parts where that’s still true (like housework) But both my planner and my journal have helped me start turning that around =-) You should try the journal’s it’s very cathartic to spend time creating pretty pages.

  10. I love all the pros and cons you’ve listed for each item. Like you, I use both, for the same reasons. My BuJo is great for planning posts and jotting down ideas but my planner is my easy see-at-a-glance what I have to do week by week. I only started using both earlier this year but wouldn’t manage without either now! x

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

    1. Author

      I know what you mean! I look back and wonder..how did I ever get things done?!? I don’t think I could go back to not having them.

  11. This is such a great and helpful comparison! I think my journal kind of straddles the border of bullet journal and planner haha, I would like it to get more arty as I get more confident though!

    1. Author

      Glad it could help! I have seen a few people who do it all in one! If it works for you and you enjoy doing it then that is awesome =-) I am sure that your journal/planner will soon be sporting all kinds of arty stuff!

  12. I haven’t got either but after reading this I would prefer a planner! Great post x

    1. Author

      Thank you! I love my planner! It really keeps my blog on track =-)

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