Why I Abandoned My Bullet Journal

Photo by Lynn Tran

Written By Sam Ly, Singapore

In recent years, bullet journaling has taken the world (or at least my friends and me) by storm. The concept is simple. You use just one book for everything—scheduling appointments, recording tasks, journaling, drawing, you name it. There is a basic standard template to help you get started, but you’re basically free to customize it according to your own lifestyle.

If you’re wondering how the name came about, it’s because it involves writing down everyday plans and events in the form of bulleted lists.

As someone who has a weekly scheduler along with seven other journals for other things (expenses, dreams I remember, thoughts from quiet time with God, etc.), the concept of bullet journaling was enticing. Finally, I could combine everything into one!

That’s when I realized it wasn’t so simple in practice. Because bullet journaling involves starting with an empty notebook, one needs to create everything from scratch. Search “plan with me” on YouTube and you will see the sheer amount of effort it takes to create each month’s calendar and weekly spaces, which includes writing neatly and drawing amazing illustrations.

As it turned out, I ended up spending a lot of time researching and watching videos on how to create my bullet journal and spending money on materials I “needed” for it. Instead of spending time to do the things I wrote down, I was spending time decorating my bullet journal and fussing over my messy lines and ugly attempts at hand-lettering.

That’s when it dawned on me: this was happening in my Christian life too—I was letting the “good to haves” drown out what I really needed.

There are a lot of things a “good Christian” is supposed to have, which are present in my life. Perhaps you have them all too—cell group, youth ministry, church on Sundays, prayer group in school, volunteering at a para-church organization that reaches out to youth etc. While these are all good things to help me grow in the knowledge of God and relationship with other brothers and sisters-in-Christ, it reached a point where I started to miss the big picture: God himself.

I knew something was wrong when I would tell myself I had no time to sit down to read His word and pray because I was too busy preparing for the next Bible study I had to teach, too busy trying to coordinate and plan for my portion in ministry, too busy with “Christian things”. How was it that I was too busy for the very God I told others to trust and obey?

I realized the answer to this was simple: I had said “yes” to too many things without realizing that I had limited time and energy. Instead of guarding my time with God, I packed my schedule to the brim thinking it would work out in the end because I was doing all these in His name. As I struggled to fulfil all my commitments as well as my responsibilities as a student, I began to drown in all the work I had to do.

I know that the Lord can use difficult and trying times to reveal to me that His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I also know that the testing of our faith through trials produces steadfastness (James 1:2-3). But I also learned that I need to be discerning and wise in the way I manage my time and energy.

God does not need us to embellish and pack our lives to the brim to prove that we are His faithful servants. Friends, God loves us as His children—our identities are secure in Christ alone, and we are much more than ministry machines. When we abide in Him and He in us, we will naturally bear fruit and so prove that we are His disciples (John 15:4-11).

I am still learning to be a wise steward of my time and energy. While I remember to discharge the duties of my ministry (2 Timothy 4:5), I must also remember to watch my life closely (1 Timothy 4:16). Instead of embellishing my schedule with many good things that call for my attention, I have peace in my heart to say no to some of these, if they come at the expense of my own relationship with God.

Distractions Of The World

Title: Distractions Of The World
Materials: Photography
Are you up for a fun little test? Sit still for the next 15-30 seconds…without talking, checking your phone, or moving around. Did you try it?

Chances are your mind probably started wandering a bit…ours sure did! What thoughts distracted you from just sitting still? Maybe you thought about checking your Instagram or that to-do list that seems to grow more than shrink, or maybe you thought about how hard it is to sit still for more than 10 seconds. What about God? Did your thoughts fall on Him?

It’s easy to get distracted by worldly concerns and give priority to things that entertain us in the moment. However, when we fill up our days and give whatever leftover time we have to God, we miss out on developing a healthy relationship that brings us the assurance and peace we crave. What distractions are consuming your time?


The alarm clock goes off and you immediately check social media to see what your friends are up to. Your phone buzzes while you’re with a friend and you have to know why. You upload a photo to Instagram and find yourself routinely checking to see how many likes it has. You have a looming deadline but that new show on Netflix is calling your name.

Is keeping up with the latest and greatest distracting you from focusing on God’s goodness and blessing?





You feel like your friends will forget about you if you don’t fill up every spare moment with meetups. A night at home can’t be tolerated unless you have friends coming over. You immediately respond to every text or email that you receive for fear that you might miss out on something fun. You spend too much time sitting on the couch having conversations with people via messenger versus in person.

Is the need to stay connected distracting you from focusing on building actual relationships?





Your to-do list is constantly growing and you can’t seem to get enough done in a day. An exciting opportunity looks more like a burden because you overcommitted your time. You take a day off to relax and feel anxious about not working on projects. You use your busy schedule as an excuse to avoid people or responsibilities. Your priorities are a scramble of work, errands, and relationships…you don’t know where your time disappears to.

Is your busy schedule distracting you from finding rest in God’s Word?





You spend more time shopping for new items at your favorite online shops than you do talking to the people around you. A vlogger promotes a new product and you just have to have one too. The item you were so excited to have last week isn’t so amusing anymore. You tried setting a budget for yourself but the sales have been calling your name and you can’t help but stock up on a few “essentials”. You find self-worth in the items you own.

Is the distraction of having the latest and greatest distracting you from God’s provisions and blessings?





The reflection in the mirror is never good enough. You tried that new workout routine and you still don’t look like that person on Instagram. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of their personal style but you. You worry about not looking perfect all the time and that your friends will say something about it. Someone gives you a compliment and you can’t fully accept it because the voice in your head is telling you it can’t be true.

Is an obsession with beauty distracting you from being assured that your identity is in God?





Your friends are posting photos from all their amazing travels and you feel jealous. You thought you would have seen more of the world by now. You crave the adrenaline of constantly being in a new and exciting place. Work or home life is overwhelming and you just want to escape to someplace else.

Is the distraction of wanting to travel misdirecting your focus from the work God has prepared for you where you are?