July 17, 2017 Evie 9Comment

I’ve been using a Bullet Journal for about two years now, and I’m starting to wonder, Is the Bullet Journal a fad?

It’s easy to see in hindsight how something that blows up as quickly as the Bullet Journal did can end up being a short-term craze. People get excited about a new gadget, a new system, a new status symbol of wealth or privilege or introspection, and we all dive in headlong without taking stock of the best practices and potential benefits.

Maybe I was one of those people who got swept up in the craze. I was mesmerized by the hand-lettering and illustrations I saw in so many of the journals on Instagram and Pinterest. There were days when I would carve out a couple of hours(!) to create an intricate mandala alongside my weekly spread, and the act felt nothing short of therapeutic.

But recently, I find myself reaching for my Bullet Journal less because of the standard I’ve set for myself. I’ve come to expect my Bullet Journal to be something beautiful, and that’s troubling, not just to me.

When I had the opportunity to speak with Ryder Carroll, the creator of the Bullet Journal, he expressed concern that people may be emphasizing form over function in their Bullet Journal practice:

The point of the Bullet Journal is to learn more about yourself.… Because you have this ritual of constantly checking in with yourself, you have to hold yourself accountable for how you’re spending your time. Is that time being spent in a way that’s moving you forward in your life or is it bringing you happiness or bringing you closer to the things that matter to you? … We’re so distracted by the things we should be doing that we don’t stop to think and ask ourselves why are we doing those things.

Listen to the full interview with Ryder Carroll here.

I’ve started to wonder what will become of the Bullet Journal if its biggest proponents are people like me who have been using it as an excuse to eke out the time and space to rediscover our creativity. Will we tire of this format, of our own artistic shortcomings in our face day after day, and eventually reject our Bullet Journals outright?

I really hope not. I’ve gained such mental clarity through my Bullet Journal practice, especially when it comes to my personal goals. Checking off my daily to-do list isn’t nearly as satisfying as reaching my annual goals, and keeping a Bullet Journal has forced me to hold those goals in view every day.

In an effort not to lose my focus, not to throw my Bullet Journal into the stack of other half-used journals initiated with the best intentions, I’m taking a new tack—minimalism. No washi tape. No colored pencils. No rulers.

Tidy > Embellished

Is the Bullet Journal a Fad - Minimalism minimalist - square

So how do we keep the Bullet Journal from becoming a fad? Probably by utilizing the system as Ryder intended: as a method for self-reflection rather than comparison.

For anyone who’s been Bullet Journaling for a while now, I’d be curious to know…

  • How has your practice shifted with time?
  • Have you felt this same pressure to make your Bullet Journal beautiful, either internally or because of what you’ve seen others doing with their journals?
  • And do you have any thoughts on whether we’ll see the Bullet Journal become a fad?

Leave me a comment below.

9 thoughts on “Is the Bullet Journal a Fad?

  1. I think you’re onto something, that for the most part the pretty and frilly will become just another fad.
    I didn’t know bullet journal was a thing until about a year ago, I just had a notebook with my notes, tasks, lists and plans before with maybe a few doodles or something here and there. I notice myself reverting back to that and away from an elaborate spread every page and so on.
    I think the over the top beauty will fade, but the concept has been around long before the title and that part will remain something.

  2. I just transitioned from my first completed Bullet Journal to Volume Two, and I was so excited! Volume One lasted from July 2016 through June 2017. I was thrilled to set up the new journal and contemplated what I want to be different and what has changed over the year.

    My general layout is similar to the one you show here, and the purpose is definitely functional timekeeping – working mom of two with volunteer activities too and all that. I’ve abandoned all washi tape, except to create monthly tabs, and I never got into stickers. I do feel like I’m missing some of its creative benefits and would love to occasionally explore doodles and hand lettering. Still, for me it’s not a fad, and my favorite aspects of the Bullet Journal are first, simply keeping appointments, meetings, and goals in front of my eyes and second, documenting memories in the form of lists and travel itineraries. My favorite memory-making example that I let fall to the wayside and needs to be embraced again is to jot down quotes from my girls (ages 10 and 7).

    When I put Volume One on the shelf I told my husband to save it (and subsequent ones) for the girls so they can see I tried to be a good mom and so much of my time was devoted to them. Morbid, maybe, but I was proud of myself and grateful to the journal for helping me see that about myself. To me, that’s pretty darn beautiful.

  3. I started my first BuJo in november 2016 after your email-challenge and I´m now half way through the notebook. I also have to admit that I´ve been creating my own calendars since I´ve been ten or so and it was like welcoming back a good old friend in a new dress rather than anything totally new. Back then I loved to doodle and embellish but by now as a freelance painter and illustrator and mom of 2 little ones under 3y it´s all about function. I still bind my own books in size and paper quality I love and the only thing that changed from my ever evolving calendars to the BuJo is what you most cherish of yours: be constantly in touch with yourself and have all the important lists in one place. After 4 or 5 months of using the BuJo I noticed that I was fine on my spending and meds routines and stopped tracking but even after such a long time H2O-intake had not stuck and so I made a custom stamp to track that in my weekly spread instead (it looks nice and is a fast way to stamp but so far I still could do much better!). I remember that when I first started the BuJo, at one point of the challenge, you made quite clear the importance of keeping functionality in focus and experiment to find the layout that serves you best. I guess I did so allowing for the first BuJo to be a test area and write down all important changes for the next in a list at the end of the notebook ;), f. e. find a dot grid 7mm spaced or so :S (or design my own again *haha*). I think people will eventually eliminate what doesn´t work for them or is not strictly necessary, (I surely did so), and decide if embellishing falls in one of these two categories. For me the beauty of the BuJo is that you can doodle over a double spread in great detail one day and go minimalism for the next four month :)

  4. I love my bullet journal because it helps me stay on track. I use a cheap graph composition book from staples. If I want pretty, I use washi tape or stickers. My favorite part is the brain dump because it allows me to get everything down on paper and then later I can go back and organize it.

  5. I’ve been using it for two years now, the longest I’ve ever used a system. My journal has never been my artistic outlet, it’s a mind organizer. I love seeing the beautiful ones and the layouts ppl innovate, but mine isn’t for Instagram pics. I’ll keep using it the same way. It has made me interested in learning hand lettering though.

  6. I took a sort of break from my bullet journal because of health issues. I couldn’t keep up with everything I wanted to accomplish and didn’t really want to put what I wasn’t doing in a journal of any kind. Never did get over-the-top fancy, though I do like to look at the ultra-lovely layouts of the super artistic. For me stickers, washi tape, maybe someday some stamps or stencils, and keeping it pretty simple is best. I have colored pens/pencils/markers but don’t use them all that often. I call this approach pretty minimalism. I do use a ruler though, as I’ve never been good at drawing straight lines.

    I think that the very human competitive prettiness aspect will turn out to have been a fad for a lot of people, but as Ryder said that’s not what BuJo was designed for anyway. Talented artists of course will continue to have lovely illustrated journals while others stick to minimalism, or waver somewhere inbetween the two extremes.

    Overall I don’t think bullet journaling itself will be just a fad. It will lose some popularity, but there will always be a dedicated core of people who continue to use it, and newcomers willing to give it a try. BuJo isn’t going anywhere, it’s just growing up is all.

  7. I started my bujo in February 2016 and kept at it fairly religiously until July 2016. While I initially loved it, I started to resent the time needed to set it up every week/month and found myself not using it as much. I do work 60+ hours a week and have three kids (two at home that have very active lives–competitive gymnast and a cheerleader) so my life is very busy. It is hard to commit the time to set everything up.

    In July 2016, my 15-year old (at the time) daughter wanted to buy a Happy Planner. There was a great deal at Michael’s so I got one as well. I thought that it would be a supplement to my bujo, but it has actually replaced it. I initially again was very into decorating every week–but the added benefit was that there was no set up–the pages are already there. Then I was resenting the time involved in the wahi tape, etc. Now I have a sticker book that basically has a week of stickers per page. I take out the color that I want for the week and just add some flair. The rest is just writing.

    I still use the Happy Planner very much like the bujo–but I have the flexibility of adding pages, having the day/week/month already set up and I can add whatever frills I want.

    I think people who really like the bujo will continue to use it–those who only started because someone said it was the next great thing, or cannot commit to the extra time for set up–they will stop. But I don’t think it will ever go away.

  8. I’ve had a bullet journal in some shape or form for about 3 years now, probably longer. I’m not an artist, I’m more of a writer, and so the words and the ticking appeal to me. I’ve just tried #onebookjuly and realised it isn’t for me. I hate only having one book and I’m now on the internet rather than write in my book! But then that’s what #onebookjuly is for – to help you realise what you like and dislike and what you want to do about it. I tried morning pages, and it takes so much time that what was absorbing my writing time was having to write about the despair I was feeling about not having time to write! Bullet journalling gives me time to explore that creative writing side of myself, and although I like a good peruse of Kara Benz or Evie and Sarah, I’m not that kind of journaller, and look at their work like I do a Hockney or a Turner – I’m not a painter but I know what I like to look at!

  9. I love the BuJo system – it’s simplicity & way of bringing everything is what attracted me to the system a few years ago. I was using lots of to do lists, random notebooks & pieces of paper, toying between electronic and written organisation methods but then found that the BuJo was ideal so long as I used one book (or 2 now that I have one for work too) & stuck with it – giving myself the time to use it and develop my own ways.
    I think that’s key to not letting it become a fad for the user – using it for the function it is designed for first and then seeing where creativity takes you.
    The system is not a fad as it’s serving a purpose in a way that is different to the filofax or other organisation methods that wasn’t generally available or perhaps even used before Ryder put it together.
    I love seeing ideas on how to make it a more aesthetically beautiful notebook and have dabbled a bit when I’ve had a moment but it’s rare for me given other time constraints.
    I wish I could be more disciplined in using it more than I currently do! I prefer writing over typing or swiping for to do lists and journaling but struggle to always make the time. The benefits of when I was using it more were great – much more clarity and love taking stuff out of my mind. And being able to create multiple pages for projects etc. It’s a great tool.

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