I'm getting ready to start my 2023 Bullet Journal, so the "don't fuck this up" nerves are setting in! I originally wanted to post more about my bujo on this blog, but it's hard to think of concepts that are more than just "look at this pretty page."
So I think this will be a chance for me to look at everything so far and start thinking about what I want to do next. I've adapted the process to work for me over the years (I started actually Bullet Journaling in 2016, but journaled prior to that), so my journal is different than the official system.
Sections within a Bullet Journal are called "collections." So the beginning of the journal typically starts with a collection of spreads that you'll go back to all year.
My year collection typically contains:
2023 landing page that sets the aesthetic for the collection.
"Year at a Glance" were I create a section for each month and can write down events that will happen in that month.
My reading tracker! This is where I try to plan a goal for how many books to read each month. I'll write down every book, the author, the date read, and a general 1-5 rating. It's basically just a huge list. I haven't figured out how to make a more creative spread, but I want to try something new for 2023.
I include a tracker for RudeFiction where I can plot out ideas for each month and note which articles/reviews I actually wrote that month.
Writing trackers: I really struggle with these. I've tried to use yearly trackers where I track each month in one tracker, but they always end up blank. I've never found a format that works well for me.
I don't write every single day like I'd like to, so this ends up being blank a lot. It discourages me from using it.
This image here is actually one of my monthly writing trackers. I'm a bit more successful when I focus on one month at a time, but I don't always create a spread when starting a new month. I've tried to simplify it by using a line graph.
I really love the way this looks, but I only use this tracker consistently when I'm reading and writing a lot. Some months I only read and some months I only write, so they end up looking more empty. Being more consistent with these trackers are another goal for 2023.
In years past I've also included:
Study trackers: I use these to mark out how often I study/do homework each day. These photos are of the study tracker I used when I was preparing for my master's exam in January and February of 2020. I marked how many hours each day. It's a nice reminder of all the work I put in to pass that exam.
Habit trackers: I've tried to use general habit trackers in the past, but I don't do anything regularly/irregularly enough to really need to track. A lot of people track how much they drink water, when they change their sheets, exercise, eat well, wash the floors, etc., but I don't really find that useful for me. I'm pretty consistent with my habits - good and bad - so habit trackers haven't helped me improve much. They mainly end up blank.
One I really do want to be more intentional with is a mental health tracker. I've attempted to use the "year in pixels" idea where you color in a box each day to note your mood on that day, but my moods are so malleable that I start a day in one mood and end in another. I redesigned my weekly spreads a few months ago and added in a mental health section, which has been so much more effective.
Favorites: pages for new media discoveries such as TV shows, movies, and music throughout the year. This is something I've also migrated into my new weekly spreads. It's more useful because I know to go in every week when I finish my weekly and note these things in my "favorites" section in the weekly.
Story idea spreads: Very simple spreads - just a few pages per story. I don't do this much anymore, because as I got older I stopped using them as much. I mainly keep my story ideas and notes in "Notes" on my phone. That allows me more flexibility to jot down something really quick out in public or when I'm in bed.
Travel trackers: (this is one of my favorite spreads I ever made).
This is something I'd duplicate for future journals and continue coloring countries as I visit them. I made this in 2019 and haven't travelled since I left Scotland in 2020. This really only works if you want to mark new countries you visit. I've been to Scotland twice, and there's no way to note that on this kind of spread.
Stuck in between all of this are quotes, pictures of my friends, family, bands, characters I write, song lyrics, notes and letters from friends, movie tickets, concert tickets, and just about everything you can think of.
Calendars of course. I do change theme every month. I'm not super artsy, so mainly I change color schemes. I don't doodle much anymore. This year (2022), I've been using stickers, which is something I didn't do in the past because I thought it messed with the cohesiveness and aesthetic of the page. 2021 was a really empty journal because I was going through a lot, so in 2022, I adopted a mindset that I would do whatever was easiest to get myself back into bullet journaling. Now I really love the sticker look, and I'm going to start doodling with them.
These are some of my 2022 calendar spreads. I've always found these really useful, particularly in college and grad school. In the past, I color-coded all of my classes and wrote in everything I needed to do for the month in that color. It helped me see what was taking up most of my life and allowed me to plan my time better.
In 2021 and 2022, I haven't needed to plan out in advance as month. Most of my work tasks are on a digital calendar, and (since I don't like my job(s) I don't want to fill my calendar with mundane tasks).
Some months I'm artsier than other months.
I do my weeklies two weeks at a time, so one spread with one week per page. These typically end up being my favorite spreads. Like I mentioned earlier, I redesigned my weekly layout a couple of months ago to make it more useful.
Weeklies have always been my favorite. I find myself being most creative in these spreads. In college and graduate school, these pages were always packed. This is where the Bullet Journal bullet list system became really useful to differentiate between tasks, events, etc. Each day was split by class up until I graduated from grad. school. After that, I started being a bit more artsy, but I still had too much space and they just weren't useful.
My weekly spreads have developed over time, but, like I said, the newest iteration is my favorite. The square boxes worked really well in college (and became cuter when I split them into separate boxes), but I've never known what to do otherwise. Recently I haven't needed quite as much space for daily tasks, so I'm able to incorporate other weekly information.
These new weekly spreads include multiple sections; all the days of the week of course, but also spots for books I read that week, goals, random notes, a place to list my favorite things that week, and a "thoughts" spot where I wrap up my week as a whole. This means I'm more intentional with my time and have a reason to come back to my weeklies multiple times to add content. It'll be something useful to look back on and get a sense of my life week-by-week.
Most recently I added a small mental health section. It gives me the space to really contemplate my emotions and mindset for the week.
I have a few goals for my 2023 bullet journal.
The first is to pull my monthly theme all the way through that month's spreads. I typically do this with colors (and stickers now), but I want to be more creative now that I'm getting back into the swing of journaling.
On that note, I want to get back into actually planning cohesive designs. In my 2020 bullet journal I tried a 1920s-esque theme. I didn't love it at the time, but looking back I really love that I tried something like that.
I also want to be more willing to include spreads even if I think I won't use them all the way through. I want to make an effort to of course, but that's only possible if I take the chance and put them in. I want to include a spending tracker (the horror of having to face my inability to save money) and fun spreads like "now and then."
Travel trackers": (this is one of my favorite spreads I ever made)..tory. I don't do this much anymore, because as I got older using them as much. I mainly keep my story ideas and notes in "Notes" on my phone. That allows me more flexibility to jot down something really quick out in public or when I'm in bed.