Bullet Journals Vs. Planners: Which One Should You Use?

Hi, friends! It’s no secret that planning is an important part of being a college student. Planning helps us keep track of assignments/tests, appointments, and other commitments. Two of the most popular types of planners are bullet journals and traditional planners (such as Lilly Pulitzer or Vera Bradley). At some point in my life, I was torn between the two, so I did some research. I found that they both have their advantages, but depending on the person, one might be a better option than the other. In this post, I’ll help you decide which one works best for you: a bullet journal or a traditional planner.

Which planning system should you use: a bullet journal or a planner? If you're not sure, this post will help you decide!

Torn between a traditional planner and a bullet journal? I'll help you decide which one is best for your lifestyle Click To Tweet

A bullet journal is for you if:

You’re artistic

Bullet journals are perfect for those who love to doodle in their notebooks. There’s plenty of space for you to add your own artistic touch…

You want extra features not offered by a traditional planner

Arguably the best thing about bullet journals is that they’re so customizable. You can add features that aren’t included in typical planners, such as a list of goals, habit tracker, or a meal planner. So if you want features that are not included in a traditional planner, you should go for a bullet journal.

You can’t work with a traditional planner format

There are quite a few planner formats (hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly). If you haven’t found one that works for you, you should create your own! A bullet journal is the perfect way to create your own planning system if you can’t find one that works for you.

If you’d like to learn more about bullet journals, this website will be useful! (I’d also recommend scouring Pinterest and YouTube for tips on how to set up your bullet journal.)

Related:  A Peek Inside My Planner


A traditional planner is for you if:

You don’t have the time or patience to create a bullet journal

Bullet journals require lots of time to write out and decorate. If you would rather focus on the actual planning rather than the setup, a traditional planner will work better for you. Plus, when you buy a traditional planner, it’s already pretty, so you don’t need to invest time making it pretty. If you don’t want to spend the time or energy decorating a bullet journal, you should go for a traditional planner.

If you’d rather use apps for things like habit tracking, meal planning, and goal setting.

Some bullet journalers include pages such as habits, meal planning, and goal setting in their journals. This is convenient, but unfortunately most traditional planners don’t have these pages. If you have apps that you already use for these functions, then a traditional planner might be better for you.

You like to plan ahead.

A bullet journal is created as time progresses, so you can’t plan too far ahead. This is especially inconvenient when your dentist tells you to come back in six months, but you haven’t gotten that far in your bullet journal, so you can’t check your planner to see when you’ll be available. For a girl who likes to plan ahead, a traditional planner is more convenient.

You don’t mind spending money

All you need to make a bullet journal is a small notebook and a few pens. On the other hand, a Lilly agenda costs around $20! Thankfully, there are cheaper options for pretty planners at Target or even at Walgreen’s, but they still won’t be as cheap as a bullet journal. If you don’t want to spend that much money, a bullet journal will be better for you.

Related:  An Organized Approach to Productivity

Here’s how I set up my traditional planner!


My Personal Opinion:
Personally, I like using a traditional planner. I’m not very artistic, nor do I have the time or patience to put together a bullet journal. I like to plan ahead. I use apps for my meal planning, habit tracking, and goal setting. I don’t feel the need to create my own planner. Honestly, I’d rather dish out $20 on a Lilly Pulitzer planner.

On the other hand, my little sister is very artistic. Regular planners are boring to her, so creating her own would work the best for her. I’m trying to get her into bullet journaling because I know hers would be absolutely beautiful.


In conclusion, both bullet journals and traditional planners have their advantages, but one might work better for one person than the other. If you’re an artistic person who wants extra features not offered by a traditional planner, I would recommend using a bullet journal. If you don’t have the time or patience to put together a bullet journal, and if you like to plan ahead, I’d recommend using a traditional planner.


Do you use a bullet journal or a traditional planner? Do you prefer one over the other? If so, why?


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  • This is the exact process I went through when trying to decide what kind of planner I wanted to use. I LOVE looking at pictures of people’s bullet journals but I need a planner where I can plan ahead and don’t need to spend a ton of time on every day. I want my planner to work for me, I don’t want to work for it! Great post 🙂

    Emily | honeybeejoyous.com

    • Hey, Emily! Thanks for stopping by. Bullet journals are so aesthetically pleasing, but they do require lots of work. Like you, I would rather focus on the actual planning rather than the setup/design. I’m glad you found a system that works for you 🙂

  • Ayre

    I use Louise’s “Sprinkle of Glitter Diary” to jot down my thoughts of the day, but honestly, I don’t even update it every day. If I can’t even do that, I certainly can’t use a planner or a bullet journal.


    • Hey Ayre! Yes, planners and bullet journals both require a time investment, and it’s hard to keep up sometimes. You don’t necessarily have to use a planner or bullet journal. As long as you find a planning system that works for you, you should be good to go 🙂

      • Ayre

        I do have a calendar white board 😊 I like how simple it is and it’s hung on my wall.

  • I’m such a huge fan of the traditional planner! I’ve tried multiple times to make the bullet journal work for me but I always lose motivation to set it up and use it.
    Alysha | Study Break Down

    • Hey Alysha! Thanks for the comment 🙂 Bullet journals are so pretty to look at, but like you, I could never find the patience to set it up. Plus, I’m not very artistic, so mine would look very boring. That’s why I LOVE my traditional planner.

  • For work, I have to keep everything super organized, but I use my Outlook calendar and an Excel spreadsheet for stuff. I can never really get into physical planners because I never have them with me when I need something (which is a lame reason, really). But since I’m always on the computer for work, I always have my “virtual planner” with me… so it works!

    • Hey Nicole! Using digital tools to plan is a great idea. I’m glad you have found a planning system that works for you. Do you use your Outlook calendar to plan hour-by-hour? I want to start using my Google Calendar to do that, and my traditional paper planner as more of a daily to-do list.

  • I just recently started bullet journaling, because I love making lists. I also tend to switch back and forth between planner layouts, so bullet journals allow me to use whichever layout I want. So far, it’s working for me!

  • Emily Bradt

    Bullet journals aren’t about being pretty, so the fact that ‘it would look pretty’ isn’t a good reason to have one. The fact that they’re essentially custom planners do make them appeal to artistic people, when you take out the decorating, they’re very quick and simple to use.