The Dilemma in using Digital Tools: Discovering Bullet Journal

Bullet Journal

Personal Dilemma: Why do I keep changing my Digital Tools?

I have been experimenting with the Bullet Journal Method for about 3 weeks now. Still, I am not quite confident if this thing is for me. My digital workflow has really stuck on me since I was using them for several years already. I still keep my Things 3 and Apple Notes while I am in the experiment. The convenience of having these digital tools cannot outmatch the paper or analog system. 

Wait a minute… Did I say Apple Notes? I was using Evernote last week. Notion was my tool for the last two weeks. Oh yeah, I suddenly remembered that one of the reasons I started my experiment with bullet journaling is that I don’t want to switch productivity tools now. Yeah , I was even using Google tasks and various apps just the past few weeks. 

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

Design Dilemma

The first reason is the design. Each note-taking application has been designed for a specific use. Whether you are a fan of tagging systems or using the Zettelkasten Method, there will always be an app for that. The same goes for your to-do lists and calendar applications. I like one feature that follows the design of one app that is not present on the other. Sometimes, some apps are better designed in terms of UI or UX as well as compared to another. This is a vicious cycle I have found in the search for the perfect productivity tool that works for me. I kept searching and spending money on experimenting on various tools that could help me automate my life. Sadly, that app doesn’t exist yet. 

I even tried using an app against the developer’s design. Applying GTD Method on an app that is not even designed for that. Applying PARA Method and found that Evernote fails to deliver what I wish it could be, but Notion shines better however it lacks offline support. So I started exploring The Bullet Journal Method – an analog system in the digital age.

Feature Variability

Another issue why I kept searching for the perfect productivity system and tools is I kept on seeking features that are not present from one thing to another. There are even expensive apps such as Things that cost $50 but there are missing features such as Natural Language Processing which is present in Todoist or Apple Reminders. However, Ticktick has a lot more features adding a habit tracker and a calendar view or kanban view for your task management.

You cannot simply find a missing feature in an app that doesn’t have that because it is not the other app you are comparing it to in your mind. On the other hand, the Bullet Journal uses an analog system. A notebook and a pen in which I can create any feature I have ever wanted. I can doodle, draw, write, mindmap, or create calendar or events or various task lists

Cost Dilemma

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I kept switching productivity apps because I also would like to fully commit to an app that I find value based on its cost. There are really great productivity apps but they are great if you pay for a monthly or a yearly subscription. There were great apps such as Fantastical by Flexibits which also switched to the subscription model. I know developers can make more money and make the app development faster using this model, however, the app store is filled with competition. There will always be an alternative to the app feature you like from an app in a different form. Paying a hefty price tag for my personal productivity system is not easy. Moreover, experimenting with premium features already has cost me a lot. Not just money but also my time learning the platform and actually using it. 

Migration Dilemma

Lastly, the migration dilemma. I know most of the apps I have mentioned were top-notch in their field of expertise. However, migrating from one app to another is totally a pain in the neck. There are types like Evernote which can export your notes in various formats. Similarly, Google Calendar is the best calendar service provider that I have tested since it has an easy sharing feature. Everyone has a Gmail account these days. Who doesn’t watch YouTube and keep their accounts synced?

So far, migration from one app to another is a huge problem I often encounter. Every time I migrate, I reflect on myself if ever I am going back. So I always make sure to keep a backup. Bullet Journaling on the other hand also has a thing called “Migration”. It is a way of migrating your tasks, notes, and to-do’s from one month to another, or one notebook to another. BuJo Method has a lot in common with digital productivity systems. 

The Rabbit Hole of Switching

Anyways, these are the dilemmas that kept me switching. I know most of you would say, “just stop switching and switch to the one that suits your workflow.” I really loved doing that. However, if you love to experiment as well the shiny new toys that provide the latest and greatest features, you don’t want to get left behind. Being updated in the loop of productivity systems is so much fun. As well as, you can also help other people who are struggling to find their own way as well. Especially with all the YouTubers such as Thomas Frank, Francesco D’Alessio, Ali Abdaal, and so much more. You can’t help yourself but to also try what they are doing since they are the experts in this department. 

If ever you are wondering why I have not mentioned a lot about Bullet Journaling in this post, it is because I wrote this whole blog post draft by hand. It is the first time in the past 3 years or so that my mind just keeps on flowing through my hand. . Yes, this is written on pages 25-27 on my bullet journal as part of my weekly reflection. 

This is my first post as part of my journey experimenting with The Bullet Journal Method. I don’t know If I would keep it for long, or maybe I would go back to digital tools. But one thing is for sure: It helped me declutter my mind through constant reflections. I hope you would join me on this new journey.