Is A Bullet Journal A Diary? Bullet Journal Vs Journaling

There’s a lot of confusion when hearing about the bullet journal for the first time. You might ask, what’s the difference between a bullet journal and a diary. I decided to find out.

Is a Bullet Journal a Diary?

The bullet journal is not a diary. The bullet journal is a planner system created by Ryder Carrol to be able to be customized in a way that will suit the unique needs of each user. A dairy can be incorporated in a user’s notebook using a Collection.

The bullet journal, as it is, already has many similarities to a traditional diary in that it offers the practices that allows one to be more mindful and self-aware.

While a bullet journal and diary are not the same, you can have a diary in a bullet journal, or even customize the bullet journal in a way that functions as both.

Let’s explore the similarities and the way you can incorporate a traditional diary further. I wrote some steps that will let you create your own diary collection within the bullet journal further down.

The Similarities Of A Bullet Journal And A Diary

The practices of keeping a bullet journal and keeping a diary are, in many ways, similar. Both require you to log in the events of the day, keeping track of what was going through your mind, and your emotions. Each gives an overview, although in different layouts and systems.

For a diary, this works by taking time at the end of the day to write down what happened to you. By writing it down, you can reflect on what happened throughout the day and further process your emotions and the events through a different perspective.

For a bullet journal, this works through rapid logging. Rapid logging is the process of quickly writing down and unloading the events, ideas, and tasks as it happens throughout the day. This allows you to keep track of important things without having it clutter your mind.

The reflection process with a bullet journal also comes later in the day, much like keeping a diary. However, this comes in the form of going over what you have written through rapid logging instead, looking at what tasks you were able to complete and what needs to be transferred to the next day.

By going through your daily rapid log, you are able to further analyze what had happened and correlate it to what you have accomplished that day. You can monitor whatever prevents you from being productive, or whatever affects you in negative ways, and weed it out.

The key difference is that you are able to merge the process of reflection with productivity with bullet journaling.

Ryder Carroll, creator of the bullet journal, actually created this system to help organize his brain and reduce his anxieties.

Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder(ADD), he developed this system to help him with his school work and de-clutter his mind. You can see why its practice may help you de-clutter your mind as well.

For more on this, watch Ryder Carroll’s video on his Journaling style.

While a diary is different from a bullet journal, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a diary inside of the bullet journal.

How To Diary With Your Bullet Journal

There are 4 ways your bullet journal can function as your diary:

  1. Diary Collection
  2. Brain Dump
  3. Gratitude Log
  4. Trackers

There are many more creative ways to do this, but these four are staples and very simple to do. If you are a beginner, I suggest you start with these first.

Diary Collection

When it comes to bullet journaling, a collection is any part of the notebook that houses a set of entries pertaining to a single topic or task.

In other words, a collection acts more like a section of related entries.

For this method, the index will be your friend, learn the fastest way to make an index here.

To make a collection for diary entries:

  1. Turn to your index and log in Diary Entries(or whatever you want to call it).
  2. There are two ways for the second step:
    1. You can log your diary entries anywhere in your notebook, just take note of the page and log it in your index so you can find it later.
    2. You can set aside a certain number of blank pages, creating a section in your journal to act as a dedicated diary.
  3. Turn to your designated diary page and start writing!


  • You can keep your diary and bullet journal in one place
  • You have more space when writing long journal entries


  • Your notebook may run out faster

Brain Dump

You may have heard of the brain dump in other circles, as with the flexible nature of bullet journal, you can apply the same concept as with making a diary entry.

If you are unfamiliar with what a brain dump is, it is a place where you can write all that is in your mind. Quite literally, it’s a place where you can dump all your thoughts in, and de-clutter your mind. Here’s a complete guide to making Brain Dumps, if you want to make one.

You might want to consider this instead of a full blown gallery to save some space and make your notebook last longer.

As with the Diary Entry Collection, to do this, simply log the page in your index and proceed to dump your inner most thoughts unto the page.

However, unlike a diary entry, the brain dump is more of random bursts of thought. There is no narrative, or a full account of your day, it is simply your thoughts throughout the day, as it came to you.

Here’s a good example of a brain dump.


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  • Saves more space than a full blown diary entry
  • Short entries save more time
  • Declutters your mind


  • It’s not a full account of what happened in your day

Gratitude Log

Like the brain dump, the gratitude log is also a simple system developed outside of the bullet journaling community. You can incorporate it into the journal as well, as with any other component you feel will work for you.

The gratitude log, is a practice of positivity. Every so often, you hunker down and focus on all the things you are grateful for. You write it down on this as a reminder that not all things in life are bad.

This is especially useful when things aren’t particularly going your way.

Many people swear by it, and do daily. However, it’s up to you how often you want to do yours.

In the bullet journal, the setup is similar to the brain dump. Simple log the page of your Gratitude Log in the index and write away. I have a full guide, if you want to make your own.

Here’s a creative idea you might want to try.


  • Gives you a chance to reflect on your day
  • Shorter entries than a diary entry
  • Practice on positivity


  • It’s also not a full account of your day


In the bullet journaling community, tracker have been a fun and productive way to track almost anything you want. The ideas are endless, and the creative spreads and colorful setups are fun to look at.

When it comes to journaling, trackers can track what you would normally track in a diary with less words. Charting these all out make for more of a visual account of your day.

Whether it’s your mood, emotions, or habits, trackers allow you to be more mindful and self-aware. They add some accountability on your part and is an effective way to keep tabs on self development.

Once again, when making a tracker, simply log the collection in your index and write away.

It may also be best to show you how a tracker looks like than explain it.

Here’s something you might want to try.


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  • You can track nearly everything you want to
  • Gives you a sense of accountability
  • A more visual account of your day


  • Tracking a set period of time will take up some space in your notebook
  • These aren’t full accounts
  • Making one may take some time

Is The Bullet Journal Better For You?

When it comes down to it, if you want to marry the productivity of a bullet journal with the practice of writing your diary, a bullet journal is perfect for you.

It will allow you to log everything in just one notebook, saving you the mental and physical clutter when maintaining two separate journals. You will run out of pages quicker, but all in all it will be more convenient for you.

However, if you find that keeping a diary separate from a bullet journal works keeps you more grounded and organized, then I would suggest to keep them separate.

In fact, in the bullet journal community, a good portion found this the best solution.

The idea of the bullet journal system is that it is flexible enough so you can find what works for you. That means if the bullet journal system only adds to the clutter in your mind, you’re free to cut it out as well.

In the end, stick to what works.

Additional Resources

If you want to start a simple bullet journal, feel free to swipe left or right to find out how. You can also follow the link for guide on how to make your own simple bullet journal


Jm here! I run the Scribbler Planet website. If you're new to bullet journals and journaling, I think I can help you out. I've always had problems with keeping on track with what I'm doing, so when I heard bullet journaling could help I tried my hand at it. Here we are about a year later and I'm glad to say it significantly helped. Here's hoping I can help you do the same!

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