2019 · Bullet Journal

The Bullet Journal Debate

Quite frequently, I’ve seen the topic of conversation on my Instagram turn into the so called debate surrounding Bullet Journals. In case you have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, let me explain.

The Bullet Journal Debate frequently pops up every now and then and it’s essentially about the idea of putting art into one’s bullet journal. Is it a waste of time? Is it necessary? Is it practical? These are questions that continuously appear in this debate.

The debate surrounding Bullet Journals came to a head about a month or so ago when the creator of the Bullet Journal Ryder Carroll made a post on the official Bullet Journal Instagram talking about Bullet Journals going “back to basic” and using quotes such as “Your Bullet Journal is focused on content rather than presentation” and “We want to celebrate simple setups that favour content over presentation”. This led to an array of comments stating that the use of art in a Bullet Journal is not necessary or a waste of time. In turn, other Bullet Journal accounts also commented to defend using art in a bullet journal. Unfortunately, this also led to some bullet journal accounts who have decorative bullet journals as opposed to a minimalist set up getting nasty hate comments which is not cool or great in the slightest. Don’t do that.

I’m not going to be discussing my opinions on that particular post from the Bullet Journal Instagram because that’s not the point of this blog post. Like I mentioned before, people quickly jumped to the defence of “artsy” Bullet Journals and I’m going to leave it at that. What I’m going to be discussing is the overall idea of this debate. The idea of minimalism vs so called Maximilism (if you have no idea what maximalism is, don’t worry. My Bullet Journal is maximalist).

I will  be referencing some polls I conducted on my Instagram a while ago that are about this debate. I wanted to include my followers opinions so therefore I will be discussing that before I move onto my own opinions.

Before we get started, please note that I am not trying to offend anyone. This post is merely a comment about the debate I’ve seen and I wanted to share my thoughts and feelings on my blog. I also want to start a friendly discussion in the comments so let me know your thoughts on the whole debate.

The Polls I conducted on Instagram were sent out on my story to 7000ish followers. I first started out with some introductory questions, the first being “Do you have a Bullet Journal?” 84% said yes and 16% said no. I wanted to know this to see whether the answers coming from people were from those who kept a Bullet Journal themselves or whether they stick to another form of a planning system.

The second question I asked was “When you’re creating Bullet Journal spreads, do you prefer to keep things minimalist or do you like to fill empty spaces?” 59% said minimalist and 41% said they like to fill empty spaces. I wanted to see what type of Bullet Journal my followers kept and as you can see, it was fairly close.

The third question I asked was “When you’re looking at other people’s bullet journal spreads, do you like to seek out minimalist spreads or busy filled out spreads?” 58% said minimalist and 42% said busy filled out spreads. I myself like looking at spreads that are different to mine so I can get inspiration for if I want to change up my style at a later date and I wanted to see whether my followers felt the same way. Unfortunately, I can’t look back at the specific people voting between the questions because Instagram won’t show it anymore. All I can tell is more people have a minimalist setup compared to people seeking out a minimalist setup.

I then moved onto questions that specifically surrounded the Bullet Journal debate. I asked “Do you think putting time and effort into Bullet Journal spreads is a waste of time?” 87% said no and 13% said yes. I found this interesting because I knew people had very simple setups with no preparation and so I was expecting more people to vote yes.

I then asked “Do you think putting art in Bullet Journal spreads is a waste of time?” 90% said no and 10% said yes. This was particularly interesting because fewer people thought putting art in a Bullet Journal was a waste of time compared to time and effort. I would be interested to find out why this is the case.

Finally, I asked “Are you not bothered what other people do in their Bullet Journal (art, doodles etc) because what they do makes them happy and works for them?” I realised this question was hard to phrase and so I specified that by answering no, they weren’t bothered what people do in their Bullet Journals because it makes the person happy and works for said person. By answering yes, they were bothered about what people do in their Bullet Journal and don’t care if it makes the person happy and works for said person. 88% said no and 12% said yes. This actually made me a little bit disappointed because for me, I don’t understand the mentality of being bothered by what someone does in their Bullet Journal but everyone is entitled to their opinions which leads nicely onto my opinion on the whole debate.

I’m going to start by answering the questions I gave out to my followers but I imagine some of you already know what my answers are. I have a Bullet Journal, I have maximalist spreads, I seek out minimalist spreads (occasionally the same types of spreads I do as well), I don’t think putting time, effort and art into a Bullet Journal is a waste of time and I’m not bothered what people do in their Bullet Journal.

The reason why I started to Bullet Journal primarily was for organisation, motivation and productivity purposes. I was in my A Levels and I wanted a system that was flexible and adaptable and the Bullet Journal system was good for that. I soon started to see people interpret the system differently by including art, calligraphy, lettering and more into their spreads and I liked the look of that.

Once I started to include these types of things in my Bullet Journal, I realised how therapeutic it was for me and how beneficial it was for my anxiety. To sit down for half an hour or an hour or whatever sorting out my spreads each night is so helpful for me. I can unwind and not think about the troubles I’m facing. Equally, when I started to include journal entries into my spreads, I realised it was also helpful to write out my thoughts on paper. Having a Bullet Journal has had a very positive impact on my mental health and I’m grateful for that.

That’s why this debate annoys me. The Bullet Journal system was created to be adaptable and I and many others have adapted it for our own needs. That’s why it frustrates me when people get so annoyed by how people have interpreted the system. I’m not doing my Bullet Journal for the benefit of others, I’m doing it for the benefit of me and that’s what people should be using their Bullet Journal more often. Sure, there are probably a minority of people who bullet journal for likes and follows but that’s not everyone.

I’ve also seen people say “Well, I feel unmotivated because of all the pretty journals on Pinterest.” We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others and we definitely shouldn’t be blaming other people for feeling unmotivated. Everyone always says the only thing you need to bullet journal is a notebook and a pen. It’s your choice to add art and doodles and stickers and washi tape and other materials.

We bullet journal for us individuals, not anyone else.

I’d like to end this post by giving a shoutout to some of my favourite Bullet Journal accounts on Instagram. All of these people have interpreted and adapted the system differently for their own needs and they have amazing Bullet Journals. Give them a lot of love. They deserve it.












6 thoughts on “The Bullet Journal Debate

  1. I didn’t know there was a debate around Bullet Journals, this is really interesting. Personally I don’t see why anyone would judge others for what they do, I totally agree with you that it should be adaptable. I love looking at anyone’s no matter what style they choose and it’s not a waste of time if it’s what makes someone happy or improves mental health! Those are interesting statistics too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You don’t have to be creative in your bullet journal in order to have one! Your bullet journal should cater to what you want it for. I hope you get a bullet journal some day.


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