Apple is having a moment right now. They just launched a whole new set of products that are rocking every techies' world, from their new and improved iPad Mini 5 and iPad Air 3 to their upgraded AirPods. Now, considering a bunch of new iPads are on the market, some of you bullet journalers out there might be wondering: Can you bullet journal on the iPad Mini 5?
Well, the idea of bullet journaling digitally might seem counterintuitive to some. BuJo snobs (I just coined the term) argue that the usefulness and charm of Ryder Carroll's planning system is that it's a bare-bones, analog process, and doing it digitally is straight-up sacrilegious. But those who take a lot of joy in the creative side of BuJo-ing recognize some upsides to planning digitally. Then there are just some people that fall in the "I still fix my phone by throwing it at a wall" camp, who are just too scared to move into the digital BuJo-ing world because technology goes right over their head. Which, like... OK, fair.
As for me, I say, "BuJo and let BuJo." And if you're strictly wondering if you can BuJo on Apple's new iPad Mini, the answer is a resounding yes — and it may actually be just the product to get you to take the plunge and start BuJo-ing digitally.
What makes the iPad Mini 5 different?
The new iPad Mini comes stacked with tons of features that anyone interested in a super-portable tablet will love, like a 7.9-inch screen, an advanced Retina display with True Tone technology that will deliver the colors on your screen perfectly no matter what environment you're in, and a super snappy processor. But when it comes to folks who are still mulling over whether they're ready to start bullet journalling digitally, the two things you'll care about most are that the Mini now supports the Apple Pencil stylus and it's priced starting at just $399 — a much more affordable price tag than some of Apple's higher-end iPads with Apple Pencil support.
So, if you've always been curious about bullet journaling digitally, but intimidated by most tablets' price tags, the Apple Mini 5 could be the perfect solution for you.
Why should I bullet journal digitally?
Of course, bullet journaling is a deeply personal and customizable experience, so there's no real reason you need to up and switch to doing it digitally if your analog system is working perfectly for you. Still, there are some undeniable draws to bullet journaling in a digital environment. I took the iPad Mini 5 for a test run, and here are some things I noticed:
You can design spreads more efficiently. Here's a photo of my future log in my analog bullet journal that I love dearly.
Let's be real: Drawing out spreads like this takes some serious time and effort. Figuring out the spacing and slowly drawing out the lines and hand-lettering so you don't make a mistake (plus figuring out how you're going to fix your mistake when you do, inevitably, make one) is no quick and easy task.
Bullet journaling digitally takes away a lot of the most time-consuming aspects of designing BuJo spreads. That's because the apps available in the Apple App Store are so advanced, they eliminate the guesswork and trial and error involved with bullet journaling in a physical journal.
Using the iPad Mini and the GoodNotes app ($8), for example, I was able to copy and paste most of the elements in my future log and then move them around accordingly to make it look the way I wanted it to. Any mistake I made could literally be erased with the tap of a button.
No more pricey accessories. While buying an iPad is definitely a big financial decision to make, BuJoing in a physical journal can be pretty dang pricey, too.
Physical journals have a finite amount of pages, which means, depending on how heavily you BuJo, you could run out of pages in your journal and have to buy a new one every six to 12 months. That's not even taking into account all the specialty pens and markers you might be compelled to invest in to create your pretty spreads (and those run out of ink, too). Add to that all the sticker books, glitter, washi tape, and the carrying cases you have to invest in to make your BuJo stash portable, and BuJo-ing physically could run you just about as much as an iPad Mini 5 costs (if not more) over the course of a couple years.
While many BuJoers are more than willing to pay that price for the experience of holding their pretty AF physical journal in their hands at the end of the year (and that's totally fine and understandable), the fact that a one-time investment of $399 in an iPad Mini, $99 on an Apple Pencil, and $5 to $10 on an app or two puts all those accessories I mentioned at your fingertips forever for one flat price is not an unappealing prospect.
Apps can elevate your artistic ability. While I take pride in my moderately pretty physical bullet journal spreads, I'm not winning any awards for my innate artistry any time soon.
If you can relate, I'll have you know that powerful apps available in the Apple App Store like Procreate ($10) can seriously take your designs to the next level — and that's only by utilizing some of its most basic features.
With the check of a box, you can activate streamlining, aka, a tool that intuitively smooths out your hand-lettering strokes for you as you write. Then there's layering, aka, the ability to draw on different "virtual" levels without affecting any of your work on the levels above or below the one you're working on. It totally eliminates the issue of accidentally mixing colors and ending up with a horrid puke green color all over your page.
I'm neither an artist nor a computer whiz, and yet I was still able to bang out a cute AF opening spread for the month of March that's cleaner and crisper than anything I ever produced in my physical journal.
Behold, a comparison:
Integration. If you're more into the organizational aspect of bullet journaling than the creative side, there are still some major selling points to going digital, especially when it comes to integration. Even the most dedicated analog bullet journalers are known to save a few notes, calendar events, and doodles on their smartphones. The upside to BuJo-ing digitally is that your favorite productivity apps can be integrated into your BuJo-ing experience.
For example, using Moleskine's Digital Studio collection of productivity apps can, altogether, make BuJo-ing easier than ever. The collection includes apps like Timepage, a smart calendar that combines your events, maps, contacts, weather and more into one easy app; Actions, an app that helps you keep on top of your to do's; and Flow, a digital notebook for the iPad.
Are there any downsides to bullet journaling digitally?
Of course there are, as there are usually downsides to trying just about anything new. Making the switch to bullet journaling digitally means you won't have a beautiful, physical journal in your hands at the end of the year to flip through (one of the major selling points of creatively BuJo-ing).
There's also the possibility of becoming a slave to your battery, since you'll constantly have to make sure your Apple Pencil and iPad are charged.
In the end, both forms of BuJo-ing come with their own set of pros and cons, and it just comes down to deciding what's best for you and your lifestyle.
How do you bullet journal digitally?
The possibilities are endless, really.
If you like the creative aspect of bullet journaling (like I do), you can use a combination of apps to create the perfect digital BuJo for you.
I messed around with the iPad Mini for a few days and was able to make my own, fully-customized virtual "journal" using Keynote, Procreate, and GoodNotes 5.
I used Keynote's basic shape tools to create a digital cover, pages, and organizational tabs. Then I wrote out my labels in Procreate to take advantage of that nifty streamlining feature I mentioned earlier. After that, I jumped back into Keynote to make everything functional by inserting hyperlinks that would allow me to flip through my virtual pages and sections (aka, slides).
Once I was done creating the journal base in Keynote, I exported the presentation as a PDF and then imported it into the GoodNotes app, which allows me to actually flip through the journal, write in it, and add pages to it indefinitely.
But, if the idea of going through all this effort to create your perfect digital BuJo from scratch gives you hives, the out-of-the-box functionality and integrated experience of the Moleskine Digital Studio might be the perfect digital alternative for you.
Like I said in the beginning, bullet journaling is an extremely personal experience and what's most important about whatever medium you decide to bullet journal in is simply that it works for you and keeps you productive.
I personally don't know if I'm ready to make the switch to virtually BuJo-ing just yet. While the iPad Mini's functionality, power, and affordability are all undeniable, there's still a little part of me that would seriously miss flipping through the pages of my physical journal.
With that said, if you are ready to take the plunge into bullet journaling digitally, I can say without a doubt that the iPad Mini 5 would be a great choice for the tool do it on.
Whatever you decide, go forth and BuJo!