One Note vs Bullet Journals: Which one wins?

I’ve made no secret that Bullet Journals pretty much run my life for me. I‘m not sure that I could function without one: it’s my life organiser, my future planner, my daily diary and my habit tracker.

But it’s not perfect. A couple of years ago, I got into using One Note – in a big way. I’ve seen countless Youtube videos dissecting the benefits of Good Notes and Notion over Microsoft’s offering, but they never do enough to convert me. I love knowing that all of my life’s notes are one shortcut away.

My use of digital planners have only grown since I first charged into the ecosystem. I used to use the BuJo for pretty much everything but, having stuck with it so long, some aspects of my daily journaling have inevitably changed. I still use a daily diary, a calendar of upcoming events, a daily planner and habit tracker, but I also used to track everything I’d expect to be eating for dinner over the month to come.

Here’s why that wasn’t working, and why that just had to change.

Quick and easy

Using time as efficiently as possible brings me so much joy. That’s not out of wanting to get more done (though that certainly helps); it’s because I want to get things done quicker to then dedicate time to the things that really bring me joy. That can be anything that I actually want to spend my time doing, whether it’s reading, writing, learning a language, staying fit, or even strumming on a ukulele.

Planning my meals in a BuJo wasn’t exactly time consuming, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have to spend at least a little time writing out each day of the week across a whole page. On One Note, that process becomes way quicker: I can type it out, for one, and do this across pre-created lines, too. The digital canvas is endless, so there’s no shortage of space for writing out what I’m hoping to eat.

With all that being said, in spite of my meticulous planning, I do still like to be spontaneous from time-to-time. As a result, there are some months when I won’t stick to my pre-determined list of meals. On One Note, that’s fine: I can erase the details, edit, or start over completely without much effort. If you want to do that in a Bullet Journal, you’re suddenly wasting space that you’ve paid good money for. Either that, or you get frustrated at having to squeeze a new meal onto a line that you’ve made a mistake on. On One Note, you’ve got the benefit of an eraser AND an undo key. What an absolute treat.

Anywhere access

Bullet Journals are great, but all of mine have always been physical. That means that I might not always have it on me. Often it’s tucked away inside my bag, or far away on my desk, or maybe nowhere to be seen. But what better opportunity is there for doing something that’s as mundane as planning what you’ll be eating for the coming month?

I can whip out my phone, open One Note, and get planning. Easy. Then, when I’m home and at my desk, or waltzing about with my iPad in hand, I can access those same notes. Having access to this app, regardless of where I am in the world, is a huge plus for me.

Space saver

The main use that I get out of my Bullet Journal is its capabilities as a daily planner, for recording to-do lists every day. This is invaluable when working at a school, with so much going on all the time. If I didn’t record all of my tasks, I’d quickly fall behind. However, I found that I was quickly running out of room in the earlier renditions of my Bullet Journal setup.

One culprit was actually the meal planning section. Because it would record what I’m eating for the next month, I’d need to dedicate a whole page to it. That might not seem like a lot, but it soon adds up and, if I really am going to chop and change my dinner plans on a whim, it makes the whole use of that space feel a touch fruitless. I’d be reviewing how I used a Bullet Journal once all its pages are full and wonder what the point of those 12 pages were, if I kept altering my plans.

Now, there’s an argument to be made that every page is a waste of paper. You may ask: ‘Why not just go digital?’ Well, I’ve considered it; but there is something about using a pen and paper for very particular aspects of my life that is just so appealing.

Do you use a journal to plan out your life? Or are you a digital innovator? Or perhaps more of a free bird, not beholden to any daily, weekly or monthly plans? Share your tips for a tidy life in the comments below!

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