Over the holidays, I realized I was coming close to the end of my bullet journal. Part of me wanted to jump right online and order myself a fancy new one to start 2022 off right. The other part of me realized it was the holiday season, and money was tight.
I’d purchased a three-ring binder and some paper to fill it some time ago from Russell+Hazel. So, I thought maybe I’d try a little experiment. I decided to set up my bullet journal in that instead.
At the time, this felt revolutionary. Why don’t more people do their bullet journals in a binder?
After a month, I went onto the Archer & Olive site and ordered some notebooks during their Black Friday sale. I’m in one of those now.
I wanted to take you through some of the reasons I liked the binder bullet journal, and the reasons I went back to the traditional book format. Maybe this is a system that will work for you.
What I loved
The first thing that I loved about the binder bullet journal was the flexibility of it. I could take pages out, move them around. I could add or remove things as needed. If I decided I didn’t like a page layout, as I often do because I’m indecisive, I could simply remove it. If I had a long shopping list, I could add another page.
I also loved the ability to throw just anything in there. I was limited only by my three-hole punch. I was throwing in cookie recipes, envelopes, all sorts of things. That was a lot of fun.
Having a binder bullet journal is also a lot cheaper. At least for me, it was. My Russell+Hazel setup was $17 for the binder, $7 for a pack of paper. Archer & Olive notebooks average around $30. So you’re saving quite a bit of money.
Of course, always keep in mind that you can bullet journal just as well in a dollar store notebook and with cheap pens. That’s exactly how I started, with a marble composition notebook.
Alright, so if it’s cheaper, more efficient, and more flexible, why didn’t I keep at it? Honestly, there’s a part of my brain asking why I don’t switch back right now. And I could. It’s not like I got rid of my binder or anything.
Well, first off, I’ve already converted it to take notes for my nonfiction novel. But the real reasons are below.
What I didn’t love
The first reason is purely an aesthetic issue. I couldn’t find a quality paper that I enjoyed using that fit into my binder.
It wasn’t a dot grid. It wasn’t thick enough to hold paint. If I wasn’t careful, I was apt to rip pages out.
It was also a pain finding paper that fit in the thing. As I soon found out, three-ring binder refills almost always have to be bought from the same company that you got the binder from. Unless you’ve got a traditional school-sized one. And that’s no fun to lug around.
The biggest reason I went back to a more traditional bullet journal, though, is this. The binder didn’t feel like as much of a keepsake.
I love bullet journaling because it keeps my many projects and responsibilities manageable. But there’s also a big memory-keeping component. I can look back in my bullet journals and see when I was going on vacation, what I was working on, what I was loving. Each month I keep a page full of memories, big and small. I doodle and draw all through the thing. I write down little notes about the day. I keep movie stubs, tickets, little mementos tucked into the pages. Every bullet journal is half organization, half time capsule.
Somehow, a box full of loose paper didn’t feel like it would be as nostalgic as a row full of beautiful, hardcover books.
In summary, maybe converting to a binder bullet journal is perfect for you. Or maybe you, like me, will keep to the traditional method. That’s why bullet journaling works so well for so many people. It is entirely up to you what your bullet journal setup looks like.
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