The Ultimate Guide to Bullet Journal Alternatives

by | Dec 29, 2018 | productivity

In my heart of hearts, I am a free spirit who loves to ride with the wind.

In my actual life, I need a little something something to keep me organized and grounded.  I started keeping notes and plans on my phone, but then I lost my cell phone and thus, the contents of my entire life.  No Bueno.

It didn’t make sense for me to keep a digital planner anyway.  I love paper notepads, planners, and calendars.  Does anyone remember this back-to-school commercial where the dad is geeking out because it’s time to send his kids back to school?

Well, I geek out in office supply stores because I love the smell of school and office supplies.

I’m a list-checking, school-supply-smelling queen.  An analog girl in a digital world, if you will.

I initially traded my digital planner (for all intents and purposes) for a Happy Planner.  They are adorable, colorful, and I was stoked about all of the interchangeable bits and pieces to go along with it. 

The Happy Planner is a very popular choice.  They come undated, so there’s no need to worry about skipping days (or weeks).  If you are a committed planner in search of something beautiful and colorful that you won’t have to doodle all over yourself, you will most likely love the Happy Planner.  I kept my Happy Planner for about a week before I tossed it into the ol’ pile of forsaken dated planners.  It didn’t quite work for me–it was too rigid a format for my liking, even though it is very easy to personalize.  

I decided to try bullet journaling.

HOW I BEGAN BULLET JOURNALING

 

I needed an option for a completely customizable planner.  I needed a blank canvas where I could dump my thoughts, check my lists, create menus, and keep track of my family’s schedule.  

Enter the bullet journal.  I saw a YouTube video on bullet journaling and fell in love.  I pored over Pinterest and found everything from basic, minimalistic setups to elaborate layouts adorned with beautiful calligraphy and adorable doodles.  

The Leuchtturm1917 journal seemed to be a fan favorite–for good reason as it is BEAUTIFUL–but I couldn’t fathom dropping $20 on an experiment I wasn’t sure I would continue.  So the search went on–this time for a more affordable option.  

I went to my secret journal spot–Marshall’s.  Can I please just say that if you are sleeping on stores like Marshall’s, TJMaxx, and Burlington–SISSSSSS (or BROOOO).  You. Are. Missing. The. Deals.

Marshall’s has an array of beautiful and unique journals (most under $10).  However, at the time there were only lined journals—no dotted or blank.  

I picked up a black journal with a doodle of Thor on the front.  This book had thick, luscious pages, an elastic band, and hidden pockets (too small for snacks, but big enough for loose notes and stickers.)

I may have a thing for Thor, so I decided to make this puppy work—lines and all.  Bullet journaling turned out to be perfect for me.  I could keep all of the random contents of my brain on paper, get my list-checking fix, and keep it all organized with a table of contents in the front.  Numbering the pages as I went kept things under control.  Safe to say I was hooked on bullet journaling.

Once I filled up my Thor journal, I used a simple black dotted journal from Michael’s that I got for five bucks.  It is hard-covered, with two ribbon markers and an elastic closure.  The pages are not nearly as thick, but once I found a pen that wouldn’t bleed, I was content.

It took over a year of trial and error to help me find my perfect layout.  I am fairly artistic, but I’ve never been much of a doodler, so I keep to a pretty minimalistic layout.

After several months of doodling, highlighting, washi-taping, and tracking all the things–I figured out that what I really needed was an undated planner with enough blank space for a brain dump or twenty.  I set out to find a good bujo alternative, and here’s what I came up with:

 

 

5 OF MY FAVORITE BULLET JOURNAL ALTERNATIVES

 

This post may contain affiliate links.  Read my full disclosure policy here.

THE BULLET KEEPER

bullet keeper bujo alternative

Amazon

If you find drawing monthly calendars tedious yet still want plenty of blank space, you’ll like The Bullet Keeper.

This baby comes in a nice, smooth hard cover, with an elastic closure, pockets, and a pen holder.  No more jimmy-rigging your pens to stick to your journal.  Wait—was that just me?  Ride in style, friend.  My favorite part about this journal is that the monthly layout is already done, so you can plot out your weeks without having to draw every last layout. 

 

 

THE PASSION PLANNER

passion planner pro bujo alternative

Amazon

 

I found out about the Passion Planner through one of my favorite YouTubers.  It comes in two different sizes, with dated and undated options of several different colors.  The Passion Planner is excellent for the goal-oriented, and particularly the creative person.  At the beginning of the planner, you create a mind-map featuring short and long term goals.  Basically, you dream up what you want your life to look like, and break down goals into small, actionable steps.  Then, you choose one goal to work on at a time, and jot down your steps into your weekly layout.

The weekly layout looks very similar to how I had already been structuring my bujo, with a daily schedule and space to include each week’s top priorities.  One of my favorite features of the Passion Planner is a monthly reflection worksheet that is included with each month.  At the end of the month, you can review your progress and re-assess as necessary.  To top it all off, there are several blank pages in the planner, perfect for scrawling out all of your fantastic ideas.  To see the Passion Planner in action, click here.

Trick out your Passion Planner with trendy and colorful custom stickers:

 

THE EVO PLANNING SYSTEM

 

Another fantastic bullet journal alternative is the Evo Flow System–a planner with a mobile app for tracking, based on the fact that everyone processes information differently.  First, you take a quiz to identify one of four individual “brain types.”  Then, you order and receive a planner customized to your specific type.  Finally, a mobile app helps you track your daily progress and identify patterns of behavior.  The price point is a bit higher at around $45, but the intelligent design is unlike anything comparable on the market. This is an awesome planner for the person who wants to be more consistently productive without worrying about tracking fifty-leven habits at once.

SIMPLE ELEPHANT

simple elephant bullet journal alternatives

Amazon

 

The Simple Elephant planner allows you to combine your vision board, mindmap, gratitude journal, and more into a compact, leatherette journal.  Each undated planner comes with 12 monthly layouts and 52 weekly layouts, 3 bookmarks, nearly 60 blank pages for notes, stickers, and a pen holder.  Choose from 3 different colors–I’m partial to the royal blue.  And since you won’t have to draw out your layouts, go ahead and jazz it up with extra washi tape and stickers.

CLEVER FOX

clever fox planner bullet journal alternatives

Amazon

The Clever Fox planner is similar to the Simple Elephant in layout.  However, it comes in several bold and juicy colors.  You will most definitely find a Clever Fox journal that suits your needs:

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