Why I Switched to a Bullet Journal vs. Happy Planner

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Are you on the bullet journal bandwagon? Learn why I switched to a bullet journal vs. Happy Planner and why I’ll never look back!

Why I switched to bullet journal

Are you familiar with a bullet journal?

I was firmly planted on The Happy Planner by Mambi bandwagon for 2 full years. Each new release had me going to store and spending stupid amounts of money on new planners (that I didn’t need), stickers (that I haven’t used) and any other Happy Planner insert I could get my grubby little hands on. It quickly spiraled out of control and I knew I needed to reel myself back in. The Happy Planner was great and it was so fun to customize my weekly spread with stickers and washi tape, but it wasn’t practical for what I needed. I needed a planner that I could actually follow, and a place where I could do “brain dumps” and not lose all of those papers I just brain dumped onto.

Why I switched to bullet journal

That’s when I started researching a bullet journal. I followed several bujo accounts on Instagram, so I was familiar with them. The idea had been a hot topic on Pinterest already for several years, but it wasn’t something that was regularly on my radar. I decided to try it out for a few months just to see how I liked it last year and after the first 2 weeks I was hooked. I don’t think I will ever go back to a traditional planner!

Bullet Journal vs. Happy Planner (and why I switched!)

Easy to customize

Maybe this is a no brainer, but a bullet journal is SO easy to customize. I mean that is actually the whole point. This is a journal AND a planner that YOU design for YOUR needs. Sure there are basic templates to start out with, but once you get going, you’ll learn quickly what works for you (and what doesn’t). As a newbie I kept my layouts very simple and straightforward. I find that I personally respond well to a bulleted daily to-do list, but you may actually love having a weekly to-do list. Since my schedule is the same each week, give or take appointments, I can set up an entire month at a time and not be too concerned about last minute changes.

The big downside of the Happy Planner is that there are limited layouts and customizing them to fit you takes a lot of work (in my opinion). Plus if you decide that the layout no longer works for you and your life after 3-4 months, you are stuck with the other 6-7 months!


Carrying my bullet journal around is incredibly easy and takes up much less space than my Happy Planner(s) did. I use a Lemome Dot Grid Journal and when traveling I’ll carry this pack of Stabilo fine point mini pens around. My journal, these pens and a ruler are all I really need for traveling with my bullet journal. I always felt like I needed 20 rolls of washi and books of stickers to bring with my Happy Planner.

Why I switched to bullet journal

Creative Outlet

As I’ve gotten more experienced and comfortable with my bullet journal, I’ve started creating more artsy layouts. If you peruse Pinterest for bullet journal spreads, you will be amazed at some of the creativity! It’s easy to get overwhelmed or discouraged when looking at all of those beautiful spreads. Remember though, this is for YOU, no one else. So make setting up your bullet journal a weekly treat and creative outlet that you look forward too. Don’t stress yourself out about it.

As for the Happy Planner–it most definitely is a great creative outlet if you take the time to make it that! The downside for me was that no matter how much I decorated the pre made layouts, the bones of the Happy Planner just didn’t work for me.


Bullet journaling is by far less expensive for me. Sure, a dot grid journal with thick paper that doesn’t “ghost” may be expensive, but it really doesn’t have to be. I spent $5 on my first journal to make sure that I was actually going to use it and like it. I grabbed a cheap dot grid hardcover notebook at Michael’s and got started. For 2019 I did spend a little bit more on this journal, but even that wasn’t a splurge! When you compare all of the planners, planner stickers, planner layouts, gridded note paper, happy planner punch and everything else I bought (because I just HAD to have it), I have spent way more on the Happy Planner obsession than I will on 5 years worth of journals.

Why I switched to bullet journal

These are just my reasons on why I switched to a bullet journal vs. Happy Planner. I’d love to hear some of the reasons why you love using a bullet journal and the ways you lay it out!


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  1. I didn’t use the Happy Planner specifically, but I had gone through a ton of Planners with zero progress in my organization skills. Mostly because a lot of them are set up as if I had a 9-5 job and I never really did. Even when I was working outside of the home that was rarely the case. When I became a SAHM, a 9-5 schedule was a joke, and now that my kids are grown my time is my own…but I’m still not on a 9-5.

    That wasn’t the only problem, I wanted it to work as a place for brain-dumps on a variety of topics and the ones that had enough space for it were too big and the ones I could port around didn’t have that brain dump space. Then most of the time I’d find myself getting a refillable planner and still, nothing was as organized as I’d like.

    I discovered BuJos a couple of years ago, grabbed a composition book that I had laying around and haven’t looked back. I still have that first one…and that poor thing had fallen apart to the point where I had to reinforce the binding with duct tape and all I used was a ballpoint pen. Ugly, yes, but oh it was life-changing.

    I have since graduated to a dotted Scrivwell and use extra-fine markers in a variety of colors. It’s a lot prettier than that first one but still very minimalist. I love everything about it. How I can drop in collections wherever, the archiving system, the index, how, if life happens and I skip a little or a lot of time all I have to do is turn the page instead of feeling guilty for not using it, it feels more like I’m picking up where I left off. It’s 6×9 so it’s big enough to plan out short and long term goals, drop in creative ideas, collect quotes, practice a foreign language (I’m currently working on Irish) or whatever else is on my mind.

    I have to say though, my favorite thing about it is if something isn’t working…. I don’t have to include it anymore. And, again, altering is simply a matter of turning a page so instead of feeling like a failure it’s simply a matter of adapting to whatever is going on in my life.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I agree with you on all of those points! I don’t work out of the home traditionally, only a few hours a week. When I was using a Happy Planner religiously, I wasn’t working out of the home at all and while it worked for me for a bit it just wasn’t exactly what I was looking for! I think I will go with a bigger size next time too, where I can fit more on the page but still be able to travel with it. And minimalist bujos really are my favorite! They function, but they are still pretty in their minimalism.

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