Archer & Olive Notebooks: An In-Depth Review

In an era dominated by digital pings and endless notifications, the allure of a blank page has never felt more revolutionary. But, dear reader, indulge me in this paradox: The more privileged among us, those who ostensibly have the means to savour leisure, find themselves ensnared in the relentless pursuit of productivity.

In a Digital World, What Can Paper Offer Us Now?

Yet, amidst this pondering emerges a curious artefact—the bullet journal. What secrets, what wonders could a simple sheet hold in a world so entranced by the glow of electronic devices? What wonders await those who dare to stray from the digital path and embrace the tactile embrace of pen and paper? It’s essential to emphasise the heroic work that has been done by individuals who have dedicated themselves to advocating for mental wellness through the art of bullet journaling and the practice of keeping a diary. Through the simple act of putting pen to paper, they have paved a path towards inner peace and resilience, inspiring countless others to embark on their own quest for mental wellness. In their tireless advocacy, they have not only transformed lives but have also sparked a movement—a movement grounded in the belief that true healing begins from within, one page at a time.

Photography by Emily Park

Ryder Carroll, the creator of the Bullet Journal® method developed this system as a means to manage his own attention deficit disorder (ADD) and organise his thoughts. Through sharing his method with the world, he has empowered millions to take control of their lives and prioritise mental wellness through intentional journaling practices. Another notable example is Anne Frank, whose diary, “The Diary of a Young Girl,” has touched the hearts of readers worldwide. Despite facing unimaginable hardships during the Holocaust, Anne found solace in her diary, documenting her innermost thoughts and dreams. Her words continue to inspire generations, serving as a poignant reminder of the power of journaling to preserve hope in the face of adversity. These individuals, and countless others like them, have forged a movement—a movement grounded in the belief that true healing begins from within. Through their tireless advocacy, they have inspired a generation to embrace the transformative power of journaling and diary-keeping, paving the way for a brighter, more resilient future—one page at a time.

Yet what’s been impressive about the paper lately is its resilience in the face of digital dominance. In an era where screens dictate our every move and virtual connections often overshadow real ones, the simplicity of pen and paper has staged a remarkable comeback. It’s as if amidst the digital noise, people have rediscovered the tactile pleasure of putting pen to paper—a sensation that transcends the virtual realm and grounds us in the present moment. Along with it, a renewed appreciation for the art of journaling and the practice of mindfulness. In a world that moves at breakneck speed, where notifications clamour for our attention and distractions lurk around every corner, the act of journaling offers a sanctuary—a space where we can pause, reflect, and reconnect with ourselves.

Can Structure Be Found in Chaos?

As a writer trained in writing therapy, I’ve always believed in the transformative power of putting pen to paper. So when a colleague challenged me to try bullet journaling for a week, I approached the task with a mixture of excitement and confidence. After all, I had kept a diary as a child, and I assumed that journaling would come naturally to me. However, as I began my journey with the bullet journal, I quickly realised that it would take some time before the words began to flow freely. Despite my background in writing therapy, I found myself grappling with the blank page, unsure of where to begin. The reporting on writing therapy suggests that the act of writing can have profound effects on mental health, serving as a therapeutic outlet for processing emotions, gaining insights, and fostering self-awareness. As someone who has witnessed the healing power of writing firsthand, I was intrigued to explore how bullet journaling—a structured form of writing—could enhance my well-being. Yet, as I sat down with my bullet journal, I found myself facing a familiar adversary: writer’s block. The pressure to fill the page with profound insights and meaningful reflections seemed to stifle my creativity, leaving me paralysed by self-doubt. But as the days passed, I gradually let go of my expectations and allowed myself to embrace the process of journaling without judgment. I began to experiment with different layouts, doodles, and prompts, using the bullet journal as a canvas for self-expression rather than a platform for perfection. In doing so, I discovered a newfound sense of freedom and authenticity in my writing. Each entry became a reflection of my innermost thoughts and feelings, a testament to the power of vulnerability and self-compassion.

Fact: This One’s a Dot Grid Delight with a Few Caveats

The Archer & Olive Dot Grid A5 Notebook offers a blend of functionality, style, and quality, making it a popular choice among bullet journal enthusiasts, creative individuals, and the everyday person *waves* alike. With its A5 size, this notebook strikes the perfect balance between portability and spaciousness, providing ample room for creativity while remaining compact enough to carry on the go. The dot grid layout offers versatility, allowing users to customise their pages to suit their needs, whether for bullet journaling, sketching, planning, or note-taking. One of the standout features of the Archer & Olive notebook is its high-quality paper. Each page is made from ultra-thick 160gsm paper ensuring creations remain vibrant and crisp. Despite its bleed-resistant paper, the Archer & Olive Dot Grid A5 Notebook faced some challenges with certain markers and highlighters. Sharpie markers and some highlighters I lifted from my teenager’s stash bled through the pages, but watercolour and acrylic paint performed admirably, showcasing the notebook’s versatility in accommodating some artistic mediums. In addition to its functional design and premium paper quality, the Archer & Olive Dot Grid A5 Notebook boasts an elegant and durable construction. The notebook also features an elastic closure and ribbon bookmark for added convenience. I’ve used this notebook off and on for two years, and despite my carelessness, it remains in wonderful condition, a testament to its durability and high-quality craftsmanship.

“Reflection is the compass guiding us through the chaos, helping us to understand where we’ve been and where we might go next. It allows us to learn from our experiences, to celebrate our achievements, and to recognise areas for improvement. Without this crucial step, progress remains superficial, unanchored by deeper understanding.”

Is Creativity a Luxury or a Necessity?

Exploring the creative aspect, I found myself questioning whether creativity was a luxury or a necessity. In a world where productivity reigns supreme, I wondered if indulging in creativity was an extravagance or a crucial component of well-being. This question lingered in my mind until one evening, over coffee, I found myself in a spirited discussion with a friend who is an artist.

Isn’t creativity just a nice-to-have?” I asked, stirring my cappuccino absentmindedly. “In our busy lives, isn’t it more important to focus on getting things done?

He leaned back in his chair, contemplating my question. “You know,” he began, “I used to think that way too. But then I started noticing something interesting. Whenever I took the time to draw or paint, even just doodling during a meeting, my problem-solving skills improved. I became more efficient, more innovative. It’s like giving your brain a break, but also feeding it something essential.

His response intrigued me. “So, you think creativity actually enhances productivity?” I asked.

He nodded. “Absolutely. It’s not just about making things look pretty. It’s about seeing the world differently, finding new connections, and recharging mentally. Creativity fuels productivity. It’s not a luxury—it’s a necessity for doing our best work.

Later that night, as I sat with my bullet journal, I began to see it not just as a tool for productivity but as a canvas for self-expression and a catalyst for creativity. I started to adorn my journal with doodles, quotes, and embellishments. Each addition brought a sense of joy and satisfaction, much like my friend’s unexpected boosts in efficiency and innovation.

*A Note on Cost

While Archer & Olive’s notebooks are revered for their durability, paper, and elegant design, they can be quite expensive. For those committed to the art of bullet journaling or seeking a high-end journaling experience, the investment is often justified. But for those on a budget, the cost may be a significant consideration. Ultimately, the decision to invest in such a notebook hinges on one’s priorities—whether the pursuit of creativity, mindfulness, and quality justifies the expense.

But the story doesn’t end here. There is another side to the world of bullet journaling, one that thrives on affordability and accessibility. During my exploration, I encountered fellow journaling enthusiasts who swore by more budget-friendly alternatives.

For Mia, a 19 year old student, finding the perfectly affordable notebook is an enjoyable challenge. “This is just a standard dot grid journal from Popular,” she said. “It costs a fraction of what the high-end brands charge, but it serves me well. Sure, the paper quality isn’t as luxurious, and sometimes the ink bleeds through, but it’s about the content I create, not the notebook itself.” Her words echoed in my mind. Here was someone who found joy and expression in her journaling without the need for expensive tools. As I chatted with more people, I realised that the world of bullet journaling is as diverse as its community. From high-end enthusiasts who revel in the tactile delight of premium paper to budget-conscious creatives who make the most of what they have, each journey is unique. What matters most is not the cost of the notebook but the value it brings to one’s life.

For me, the Archer & Olive notebook has been a cherished companion, but I now appreciate that the true beauty of bullet journaling lies in its inclusivity and adaptability—proof that anyone, anywhere, can embark on this transformative journey.

Is Progress Possible Without Reflection?

In my bullet journaling odyssey’s final chapter, I confronted a critical question: is progress possible without reflection? Reviewing my journey through my journal’s pages, I realised true growth requires both action and introspection. In quiet moments of reflection, I found clarity and renewed purpose, laying the groundwork for continued growth and self-improvement. Each page of my Archer & Olive notebook became a mirror, reflecting not only my daily tasks but also my inner thoughts and emotions. The act of looking back, of pausing to consider what had been written, revealed patterns and insights I might have otherwise overlooked. Reflection is the compass guiding us through the chaos, helping us to understand where we’ve been and where we might go next. It allows us to learn from our experiences, to celebrate our achievements, and to recognise areas for improvement. Without this crucial step, progress remains superficial, unanchored by deeper understanding.

The true essence of this practice lies in its ability to help us organise our thoughts, reflect on our experiences, and express our creativity. Whether using a high-end Archer & Olive or a budget-friendly alternative, the journey toward intentional living is accessible to all. Through my experience, I’ve learned that progress, mindfulness, and creativity are within reach, no matter the cost of the tools we choose to use.