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
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
Currently, 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
- 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
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?