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How to Deal with Planner Shamers (& Other Toxic People)

Don’t let planner shamers sour the productive routine you’ve established. These tips will ward off grown-up bullies when they threaten your bullet journal bliss.


Don't let "planner shamers" and other toxic people upset your joy. Stay happy, productive, and organized!

|How to Deal with Planner Shamers (& Other Toxic People)|

Hello, my productive friends!

Ugh. Bullies. Today’s topic is a little out of character for me, because it touches on some of the uglier things in life. I don’t usually like airing those things on Page Flutter, but this one can’t be left alone.

I had another topic all ready for you. Then I read a recent post on a popular Facebook group. Now, I don’t want to embarrass anyone, so I won’t be naming names. The post came from a young woman who was horribly criticized by another adult for her bullet journaling. Mind you, she was off the clock, on her lunch break.

She was humiliated. Planner shamed. Bullied. AS AN ADULT!

From what I gathered, the co-worker cursed at her (This is me popping my knuckles), called her planning method juvenile (Say whaaaa?), and told her she should keep her “little diary” at home (Oh, no she di’n’t!). 

The other members of the group, being the supportive people that we are, immediately chimed in to cheer up our journal buddy. Yay, team!

I have not been able to shake her experience from my thoughts, and it didn’t even happen to me. I was outraged for this young woman! Was she hurting anyone? Of course not.

So, why was she (and her journal) the target of her co-worker’s scorn?

Don't let "planner shamers" and other toxic people upset your joy. Stay happy, productive, and organized!

Paper planner systems are visible

One of the reasons our BuJo pal was picked is her journal was visible. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting her short skirt made her a target. Stay with me…An iPhone calendar is invisible to the rest of the world, it blends in with our digital world.

That’s the major advantage of paper planning: It’s more noticeable for the person using the planner. We can’t forget about it as easily as an app that disappears into Virtual Land when we put the phone down.

Hey, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m worthless without a structured planning/note-taking system. If you ever find me circling the block with a puzzled look on my face, you’ll say, “Oh, Megan lost her bullet journal again!”

We must take our journal/notebooks/planners everywhere to use them properly, so they’re bound to attract some attention at some point. People peek out from behind their computer screens like, “What’s that strange thing you’re writing with???”

Um. A pen.

Your planner is even more likely to attract attention if it’s artistic and eye-catching.

Maybe negative attention is more common than we realize. I’ve occasionally gotten some strange glances over my shoulder when I’m referencing a colorful spread or jotting an appointment in my bizarre looking calendar.

Oh, yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Maybe you’ve heard one or two of these:

  • “How many notebooks do you need?”
  • “OMG, you have way too much time on your hands.”
  • “What is that?  Your diary?”
  • “How…um…cute.”
  • “Wow, that’s way too much washi tape.”
  • “That can’t be practical.”

Take the opportunity to educate the person about bullet journaling, and 9 times out of 10 you’ll have a BuJo convert on your hands! Welcome to the family.

Don't let "planner shamers" and other toxic people upset your joy. Stay happy, productive, and organized!

But there is a slim chance you’ll deal with criticism from someone who doesn’t understand how your bullet journal helps organize and focus your life.

How do we deal with people who can’t keep their comments to themselves?

When Haters Start Hating:

I refer to criticism of journals and paper planners here, but these techniques apply to other encounters with toxic people.

1. It’s NOT About the Journal

There are some toxic people in the world. No secret, right? They criticize every joyful thing that crosses their paths. If it wasn’t the journal it would be something else. Toxic people (a.k.a bullieshave a rare talent for seeing the downside to every situation, and they are the first to cut you down when something wonderful happens to you.

Bullet journaling creates intense life focus. You’re meeting deadlines. You’re happy and talented. You know what’s happening around you. You have a plan, and your life is taking you places.

If someone is going to criticize something that’s making you successful, it’s because they don’t share that same prosperity in their lives. Chalk it up to jealousy.

2. Gain Some Distance

Avoid these types of people when possible.  Take a different route to the conference room so you don’t have to walk past this person’s desk. If you catch up on planning during your lunch break, find a quiet area away from prying eyes.

What if you can’t? Maybe your desk is across from Bertie the Bully, whose eye rolls are visible each time you color-code an appointment. Stay busy enough that there’s no room for her comments. Pick up the office phone right as she starts hounding you. Conveniently remember that you have something (anything) urgent to discuss with so-and-so who just happens to be walking by at that very instant. You’re still gaining distance from the toxic person by closing your world to them.

3. Hang on to Your Joy

Your bullet journal has been a source of joy for you. Don’t let that change. Laugh along to show the person you can take a joke. It’s time to channel your inner Lorelai Gilmore for a fight of wit and sarcasm!

When you get a question like, “How much washi tape can one page need?” nod in a agreement and say, “You’re right. It needs more.”

Then head over to this post on spicing up your bullet journal for even more fun!

If you get, “What a waste of time.” Your answer: “I know, right? It takes me ten minutes each week to make this page. There goes my gym time!”

4. Stop Being a Victim

Ignoring mean comments is a good place to start. Maybe the person will lose interest in teasing you. If not, you probably have a full-grown bully on your hands.

Adult bullies use more subtle techniques than their pre-teen counterparts, but they sometimes get more aggressive if you don’t respond to initial taunts. Be prepared to confront the person directly.

You need to make it crystal clear that you will not tolerate their rude comments.

If they’re bothering you at work, be willing to speak to a supervisor or HR about the person’s behavior.

5. Use Your Support Network

Hey, we got your back! A huge community has formed around bullet journaling and other types of paper planning. We offer each other advice, encouragement, and let our collective freak flags fly!

Don't let "planner shamers" and other toxic people upset your joy. Stay happy, productive, and organized!

In the meantime, surround yourself with positive people. Toxic people lose their potency when confronted by a group.

Whatever you do, don’t let someone else poison your good vibes.

Goals take tenacity. Success takes grit. Toxic people are just another one of life’s challenges to overcome, but you can learn to deal with them. 

Now, get back to those projects that are keeping you so busy!

Have you ever dealt with backlash from your journal? Comment below with your tips for dealing with planner shamers and other toxic people.

Brainstorm with me!

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Megan Rutell
Megan Rutell
Writer & Creative Blogger
Megan Rutell is the blogger behind Page Flutter. She's also a writer, stationery lover, Air Force veteran, and homesick Colorado girl.

19 thoughts on “How to Deal with Planner Shamers (& Other Toxic People)”

  1. My Dad is the “you have to much time on your hands, you need to get a job.” I work full-time as a REALTOR and if I didn’t have my planner things would go haywire very quickly. Fed up one day I finally turned to him and said, “why do you feel the need to control my time? I work, I’m happy and things don’t get forgotten. Get over it.” He hasn’t said that to me in two years now LOL

  2. I read that post too and when I got over my astonishment I told her to tell the lady it was her bitch journal and that she was just adding her name…..I should have added that she can also ask her to sit and pose for a pencil sketch…bahahahaha. people don’t get to me very easily but for some reason when they are mean to other people it get under my skin…..I’ll be knuckle cracking g right along side you!!!

  3. I made a bet with a guy that if he could find the first thing he was supposed to do in two weeks on his phone faster than I could in my Planner that the loser would buy lunch. I savored that meal.

    Let them embarrass themselves with their ignorance.

    “Oh, I’m sorry you’re not creative. Would you like me to show you how to start? I might have some crayons in my bag you could handle…”


  4. Wait. Wait. Someone *planner shamed* another person? What the hell? I would have given the shamer a piece of mind mind, and the shamer would not have enjoyed it. There are studies that show that what you write down – with paper and a pen – really does stick with you. More than that – it’s what I *like* to do and it *works* for me and it’s NOYDB. Grrr! Hiss!

  5. Also: the State Bar of California requires attorneys to keep a paper planner of some sort in addition to an electronic calendar. Electronics can crash. Paper can’t. Nyah nyah nyah.

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Kimberly! It definitely reinforces our habits. It’s always shocking to me when I hear stories of someone butting in on a person’s organizational methods. We know what works, though. 🙂

  6. Very cute article and really nice approach to those planner shamers! I think every planner person I know has had to deal with this at one point or another.

  7. wait, you lot can do an entire week in 10 minutes?! I’ve seen samples of bullet journalling on the net and its sooo pretty and detailed, how do you do that?

    I WANT TO LEARN! (I’ve always been put off by the possibility of a huge amount of time and resources needed to even start….)

    1. Hi, Sao_rise! Yes, I can promise you my weekly setup takes 10 minutes (max). I keep things very simple, using clean headers and small touches of color.

      Most bullet journalists I know use their journals in a very efficient manner. Some of the journals you see online almost cross into the “art journal” realm. Bullet journaling is inherently a very simple system, but some people like to dress it up with art. You’d be surprised how quickly you can create pages once you’re used to the system. The core system (from bulletjournal.com)is what makes it a bullet journal, not the art . I hope that helps! Take care. 🙂

      You can see my weekly setup here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BM6eh73hNYT/?taken-by=pageflutter

      1. I think I need to start having a weekly spread like this. I tend to lose sight of tasks when they’re all stacked up at the beginning of the month.

  8. I’m so glad I found this post! I’ve dealt with comments like “How archaic,” “There’s this thing called Google calendar,” and “That’s childish.” People just seem incapable of minding their own business, I swear! I tend to ignore them and go back to more planning.

    1. I’m glad you have a plan to deal with this situation. More often than not, people are curious & intrigued by paper systems. I rarely encounter people who want to criticize, but it’s nice to be prepared for those scenarios. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

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