Digital vs Paper Bullet Journal: Pros and Cons to Help You Choose
July 8, 2022
You've probably heard of bullet journals and are intrigued by the concept. But maybe you're not sure if a paper or digital journal is the right choice for you. Or you might be considering making a switch from paper to digital, or vice versa.
In this blog post, we will explore the pros and cons of each so that you can make an informed decision about which type of bullet journal to pick.
Paper bullet journal
Let's start with paper bullet journals.
Pros of paper bullet journal
Low entry barrier
The most obvious pro of a paper journal is that you don't need any fancy tech to get started - just a notebook and a pen.
Writing feels more natural
Another pro of paper journals is that physically writing feels more natural than typing on a keyboard or writing with a stylus. The sensation of holding a pen and seeing words appear on paper can be therapeutic and help you focus.
You can save them for physical memories
Another great thing about paper journals is you can save them as a keepsake and re-read them from time to time. It's nice to open up your box of journals every few years and flip through them, remembering all the things you've accomplished.
An excuse to buy cute/cool journals and pens
This one is more of a personal pro, but I think it's worth mentioning! If you're someone who loves stationery and pens (like me), then paper bullet journals give you a great excuse to buy all the cute journals and pens you want. You can even make it into a hobby of collecting journals and trying out different pens and inks.
Total freedom in design and layout
One of the great things about paper bullet journals is you have total freedom in design and layout. If you want to try out a new spread, just rip out the page and start fresh. You don't have to fight or work around your software.
Cons of paper bullet journal
Now let's move on to some of the cons of paper bullet journals.
Can't easily fix mistakes
One of the biggest cons is that it's harder to fix mistakes. If you make a mistake, you either have to live with it or start the whole page over from scratch.
Not as portable
The best way to manage distractions is to create a distraction-free environment for yourself that gives you the quiet you need to focus.
Physical journals are not as portable as digital ones that live on your phone or tablet. If you're always on the go, paper journals might not be the best choice for you.
Paper bleeding and ghosting
If you use a lot of ink or watercolors in your journal, you might have to deal with paper bleeding and ghosting. The ink might bleed through the pages, or you could see the indentations of your writing on the other side of the paper.
One way to avoid paper bleeding and ghosting is to buy thicker journals. But this also means that your journal will be more expensive and take up more space.
You have to keep buying journals and stationary
Another con of paper journals is that you have to keep buying them. Unlike digital journals, which you can use for years and years, paper journals have a limited lifespan. This can end up being more expensive in the long run.
Paper journals require cutting down trees to make them. If you're conscious of your impact on the environment, paper journals might not be the best choice.
Limitations of space
Paper journals have limitations in terms of space. You can only fit so much on a single page, which means you might have to get creative with your layout if you want to include a lot of information.
You have to recreate your layouts
And finally, one of the biggest cons of paper bullet journals is that you have to recreate your layouts constantly. Each month or even week, you have to start from scratch. This can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially if you're someone who likes to have everything just so.
Digital bullet journal
I think we've covered the physical bullet journal pretty thoroughly, so now let's move on to the digital bullet journal.
Pros of digital bullet journal
Ability to fix mistakes
One of the biggest pros of digital bullet journaling is the ability to fix mistakes. If you make a mistake or want to change something, you can hit the backspace button or delete it and start over. This is a huge time-saver.
Another pro of digital bullet journaling is the shape tools. If you want to draw a perfect circle or square, all you have to do is use the shape tool, and voila! This can be helpful if you need to have everything look neat.
Zoom and Resize
Another great pro of digital bullet journaling is the ability to zoom in and out and resize your text. This can help make your journal more compact or write in smaller fonts.
It’s not easy - your brain will do anything to avoid mentally challenging tasks. Evolution taught us to preserve energy, and an active brain can use up to 30% of our energy sources.
Saves your work in the cloud
Another huge pro of a digital bullet journal is that it saves your work in the cloud. If you lose your phone or tablet, you won't lose your journal. You can log back in and pick up where you left off.
Find what you're looking for easily
Digital journals allow you to quickly and easily find what you're looking for. If you want to go back and look at something, all you have to do is search for it.
With physical journals, you have to flip through pages and pages to find things.
Digital journals are more eco-friendly than paper journals. Since they don't require any paper or ink, they have a much smaller impact on the environment.
Copy & paste
The ability to copy and paste your layouts is another great pro of digital bullet journaling. Now you no longer have to recreate them each month or week. You can copy and paste them into your new journal.
With digital bullet journaling, you can easily download templates to help you get started. If you're not sure how to set up your journal, there are plenty of templates online to help you.
Cons of digital bullet journal
The battery might die
One of the biggest cons of digital bullet journaling is that the battery might die, and you won't be able to continue until you find a charger. It can be frustrating, especially if you're in the middle of a journaling session.
Can be strange to write on
Another con of digital bullet journaling is that it can be strange to write on. You're not used to writing on a screen, and it can take some time to get used to it. You can buy a screen protector that feels like paper, but it's still not the same as writing on real paper.
The ability to erase could be a trap if you're a perfectionist. If you're the type of person who likes everything to be perfect, you might find yourself erasing and rewriting things over and over again.
Another con of digital bullet journaling is screen fatigue. We already stare at screens all day and adding another one can be taxing on our eyes.
As with any new technology, there is a learning curve. It might take some time to get used to digital bullet journaling. With the physical journal, all you need is a pen and paper. But with digital journaling, there are a lot of different features and tools that you need to learn how to use.
Digital journals can be quite pricey. If you want all the bells and whistles, you're going to have to pay for it. For example, lots of people use an IPad to journal, and those can be quite expensive.
No physical keepsake
One of the biggest cons of digital bullet journaling is that you don't have a physical keepsake. There's something special about flipping through a physical journal and seeing your handwriting. Yes, you can still revisit your old entries by looking at them on a screen. But it's just not the same as flipping through a physical journal.
However, you can also print out your digital journal near the end of the year if you want a hard copy.
So there you have it, the pros and cons of digital vs paper bullet journaling. Hopefully, this list will give you some things to think about as you decide which type of journal is right for you.