How To Choose Between a Bullet Journal vs Planner

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Last Updated on February 21, 2024 by Saskia Friedrich

Bullet Journal vs planner – which one is the better planning system? And what’s the difference between a bullet journal and a planner? 

With the sheer amount of different planners you see on Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms daily, I can feel your confusion and frustration.

Throw words like dated bullet journal, bujo planner, Panda Planner, Passion Planner, Hobonichi, Full Focus Planner, and others in the mix, and you feel like giving up on this whole journaling and planning thing before you even started.

A bullet journal, also known as “bujo”, is an empty dotted notebook for your creative expression whereas a planner is for a person in need of a pre-structured and simple system. 

Let’s jump into comparing a journal vs planner in more detail as well as exploring some of the other planners, so at the end of this post, you’ll know which one you should get. 

Disclaimer: Some of the links here are affiliate links and I may earn if you click on them, AT NO EXTRA cost to you. Hope you find the information here useful! Thanks.

Bullet Journal vs Planner: The Difference

Let me save you from using your precious time to do hours of research in finding the difference between a planner and a journal. 

Here’s a detailed overview of what makes a bullet journal and a planner:

Bullet JournalPlanner
Able to brain-dumpYesNo
Space to get creativeYesNo
Preset layoutNoYes
Able to block your timeNoYes
See week/month at-a-glanceNoYes
StructuredNoYes
Built-in page numbersNoSometimes
Easy to useDependsYes
Customization & PersonalizationYesNo
FlexibilityYesNo
Duration of usageUntil journal is fullUntil the year has finished

If you like the flexibility to create your own planning system, you should opt for the bullet journal, while if you’re short on time and not very creative, the traditional planner will be the better option for you. 

Bullet journal vs planner vs notebook – why are there so many different ones? 

You’re probably asking yourself, can I not just combine a bullet journal and a planner to make it easier for myself? 

Especially since you appreciate the aspects of both of them.

Let’s find out about the pros and cons and if it’s possible to have a bullet journal in a planner.

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Pros And Cons of Bullet Journaling

If you’re more of a creative person and don’t like the look of a predefined planner, the bullet journal is the perfect option for you.

You have room to actually journal and do a brain dump.

Pros of Bullet JournalsCons of Bullet Journals
Cheaper than a plannerArt supplies are expensive
Start any time and use it until all pages are filledYou have to come up with your own ideas
You can get creative and build every page differentlyTakes time to set up and maintain
Visual and rewardingIt’s easy to get overwhelmed
Not restricted to a certain year/month/week/dayIt’s hard to stay committed

What I also like about the bullet journal is that you can simply rip out the page once you have completed a task or if you wrote down something wrong.

Or if something simply doesn’t apply to your circumstances anymore.

A bullet journal is your place for EVERYTHING. Instead of having multiple to-do lists, grocery lists, etc., you write it all in the bullet journal planner.

What You Can Use A Bullet Journal For

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Pros and Cons of Planners

A planner is an organizational system that comes in the format of a calendar or agenda, usually containing lines. You can stay on top of appointments and schedules by day, week, and year.

You would usually buy them at the end of the year to get set up for the new calendar year.

Pros of a traditional plannerCons of a traditional planner
Predefined systemYou have to follow the outline
Saves you timeMore expensive than a bullet journal
Clear overviewNot much room for creativity
Simple to fill outNo room to journal and express thoughts & feelings
Easy to stay on top of appointments and to-do’sYou can only use it for the current year

Should I Buy A Planner Or Start A Bullet Journal?

Still not sure which organizational system is better for you? 

It all depends on what kind of person you are and what you need help with in your life. 

  • Have to schedule a lot of appointments? → Planner 
  • Need to stay on top of other to-do’s? → Planner
  • Need to remember birthdays & events? → Planner
  • Want to start journaling? → Bullet Journal
  • Want to set goals? → Bullet Journal 
  • Have a note-taking system to stay on top of spendings & routines? → Bullet Journal

If you can’t make a decision right now, why not get a planner (since they’re not very expensive) and build a bullet journal on the side to see if it’s for you? 

You can also get a journal and planner in one. 

Here are some great planners and journals you can choose from to make sure you’re getting the one that works best for your lifestyle. 

Recommended Planners And Journals For You

Making it a bit easier for you, here are some recommendations on bullet journal and planners to kickstart your journey:

  • Clever Fox Planner PRO – this planner comes with extra pages to increase productivity, hit goals, and work on your time management
  • Hobonichi Techo Planner – popular Japanese design with one page per day, week starts on Monday
  • Panda Planner – the special aspect of this planner is that it comes undated
bullet journal vs planner

Bullet Journal Ideas

A bullet journal can be your daily planner, if you like, but there’s also a ton of other things you can use it for. Here are a few ideas what you can use it for: 

And so much more! Basically anything that’s going on in your life. 

Panda Planner vs Passion Planner

Have you been wondering what the difference is between a Panda planner vs Passion planner?

Both planners can be used to organize your day-to-day life, but the Passion Planner focuses more on setting goals and sticking to them, whereas the Panda Planner has a lot of aspects of a bullet journal.

Main Features of The Panda Planner

  • 3 bookmarks for monthly, weekly, and daily sections
  • Undated
  • Elastic band to keep closed
  • Inner pocket for storage

Monthly overview includes:

Weekly overview includes:

  • Review your last week
  • Break down your projects into little steps
  • Plan how your next week can get better
  • Setting goals

Daily overview includes:

  • Develop positive habits by creating a morning routine
  • Manage your time wisely by scheduling tasks
  • Set 3-5 priorities each day
  • End-of-day review

Main Features of The Passion Planner

Here are a few key aspects which make the Passion Planner so unique.

  • Specific goal-planning strategy which is called “passion planning”
  • Step-by-step system to achieve your dreams and goals
  • Turns your wishes into measurable goals
  • Uses weekly and monthly prompts

Hobonichi vs Bullet Journal

Full Focus Planner vs Bullet Journal

It increases focus and decreases overwhelm. This combination helps you overcome your barriers so you can achieve your goals.

  • It’s undated
  • Focuses on one quarter at a time
  • Breaks down your goals in to yearly, quarterly, weekly, or daily

What makes it different to the bullet journal is its accountability towards your goals.

Every week, it wants you to sit down and review your previous week. It asks you to celebrate your wins as well as checking to see what can be improved.

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Bullet Journal vs Planner: Before You Go . . .

I hope you now have a clear idea on what the difference is between a planner vs bullet journal.

Having one of them or even both will improve your life in one way or the other – just give it a try, it’s definitely worth it!

I’d love to hear from you which one was the better choice once you purchased and used one for a while.

Here are a few more resources for you when it comes to planning and organizing:

Happy Planning & Journaling!

bullet journal vs planner
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About The Author

Saskia is a mom, blogger, and freelance writer. She loves sharing tips on how to live a more positive and simple life through self-care, personal growth, and journaling.

Find out more about her here or connect with her on Instagram to get more inspiration.

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