How I use Notion and bullet journaling together

Recently my favorite Youtube planner person, Catlin, made a shocking announcement. She is not going to be using a bullet journal anymore. Instead, she’s switching over to virtual planning.

This prompted me to think about my planning habits. It’s 2022, everything is expensive and everything else is digital. Maybe the time has come to switch to a fully digital planning system.

Nope, not going to happen. I’m not saying it’s never going to happen, mind you. But right now I get much-needed serotonin from my bullet journal and I’m not giving it up. 

That being said, I do use Notion for roughly half of my planning. So I thought it might be interesting to break down what I use my bullet journal for, and what I use Notion for.

Bullet journal, micro, art, and memories

My bullet journal sits open next to me most of the time. That’s because my daily task list and schedule are listed there. Anything that I have planned for this month will be in the pages of my bullet journal. Here’s a quick rundown.

-Monthly goals

-Monthly budget

-Three-month business plan

-Projects and social media plans for the current month

-My current ‘to read’ list

-Monthly habit trackers

-Shopping list

These are things I check in with daily. Things I’d like to be able to check in with by flipping a page.

Another thing that will be found on my monthly pages is a memory tracker. Here I doodle and sketch pictures that memorialize the fun events that happened that month. If we went to see a good movie if a book came out if I got a new plant. If there was a holiday, of course.

This is part of my memory keeping. I want to be able to look back at my journals and remember how my month went. That’s harder when using an app. 

It’s also harder to get creative on an app. I take great joy in drawing out borders and decorations in my bullet journal. It’s something I look forward to, every time I make a new page. 

Honestly, I just finished setting up holiday pages in my bullet journal with stickers, and it was such a joyous activity. I know I can decorate with pictures on Notion, and I do. But it’s just not the same. 

My bullet journal is for short-term planning, memory keeping, and art therapy.

Notion, macro, fluctuating, and repetitive tasks

All that being said, there are some things that a paper planner is just not useful for. Like long-term planning.

Anything that’s going to outlast my bullet journal probably isn’t going in there. So my annual plan goes into Notion. As does my OCN board. If you don’t know what that is, you’ve got to take this course by Lisa Jacobs. It’s helped me get so much more shit done, I can’t even tell you. 

I also keep a project page for each of my books in Notion. Books take a long time to write, and much longer to edit. I don’t want to rewrite a ton of information each time I switch journals. 

Then there are the things that change too often to be worth the time to write down. Things like my blog schedule, which I switch up all the time. Or my plant watering schedule which gets updated every three days. Chore charts are another big one for Notion, as they need to be updated all the damn time.

Anything in Notion is, essentially, there for too long of a time or too short of a time for it to comfortably fit in my bullet journal. 

This system works well for me. Doing things this way I’m able to keep track of managing my family, day job, and writing career. I’m also able to catch memories of my life, so I can look back and cherish them. I can build for myself a wealth of learned wisdom. I can learn from my past while giving my future plenty of room to grow.

So what about you? Do you use just a bullet journal or just a virtual planner? Let us know in the comments. 

It’s not too late to start planning for Preptober! You can get my Preptober planner now on my ko-fi shop. 

I tried a binder bullet journal, here’s how it went

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. 

This is not a sponsored post. There are no links to any companies on here, nor do I get paid by any such companies. If you would like to support Paper Beats World, you can do so on Ko-fi.

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