2023 has been the year of documenting my thoughts and mental health. A big part of that is making sure that I'm journaling like I always have. In 2021 (especially), my bullet journal was just a book of empty pages. I didn't want to face my life, and I struggled to put anything in. Eventually, in a last-ditch effort, I just started writing the month in the middle a page and jotting down little notes about the month. That was all I could do to document any part of my life, and much of it was repetitive, month after month of the same little comments. Most focused on things I'd lost, people I felt disconnected from, and my desire (beneath all of the exhaustion) to do better, to be better.
So, while I did better in 2022, 2023 is really the year of being as intentional as possible and putting effort in my bullet journal the way I used to. I'm so proud of bouncing back with journaling last year, but it was still a conscious effort to make myself journal, and even then, it was simple - mainly a lot of stickers (which I'm now obsessed with). There was a moment early last year where I realized I'd lose so much if I stopped journaling, and I really pushed myself to get back into it. I love my 2022 bujo, and I finally, last week, made myself put it on the shelf with the other years'.
Here's my last bullet journal blog about all the spreads I've done in my past. There's a lot in there about last year, as I was preparing for this year. It goes into a lot of detail about the type of spreads that I use and my previous designs. So this blog will mainly just be a "show and tell" of what I have this year so far. It's all over my Instagram too, so nothing I haven't talked about before.
Before we get to the actual spreads, here's what the inside of the journal cover looks like.
The inside covers of my journals tend to be filled with stickers of things that I love each year, and 2023 is no different. Here's what that looks like. The front is covered, and I'm working on the back. I'm going to have to stop buying stickers unless they fit with my month spread themes, because I'm out of room in neutral places.
Okay, onto the actual journal spreads.
These are the spreads that I'll use the whole year, so they go at the beginning of the journal. Here are a few examples of some of the spreads in this section.
This is obviously the first page of the journal that lists the year. I don't always put a quote here, but this is one that I really wanted to believe in this year. It's hard to read in this picture, but this one says, "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."
This page also sets the stage for the theme. So this wire frame picture board is pulled all the way through my yearly spreads in this front section of the journal. The color scheme also continues.
These kinds of pages look different each year, depending on the type of "goal" page/tracker I want to do. But this year, I tried to keep it simple.
I have a "Now & Then" reflection where I wrote down notes about myself in January and left room to do the same at the end of the year.
My actual goal page is really simple. Meant to look like two pages or sticky notes clipped to the wire frame. One for long-term goals and another for short-term goals. I'm actually really bad at quantifying my goals and sticking to them. So there's really not much in there, but I've worked this goal making into my monthly reflections so I evaluate my progress and readjust my goals at the end of every month (maybe not effectively? But I'm working on it).
Lastly in the Reflection section, I have a very, very simple "faves" page. It's obviously for me to note big discoveries that had an impact on my year or that stuck out to me.
I find that I'm really bad at remembering the things that I enjoyed over the year, so I created this spread. After doing this, I realized I wasn't remembering to go back, so now I created a spot in my weekly spread where I can jot down all my favorite things during a particular week. Then, if I feel like any of those favorites from the week are actually really important to me, I add them here. This is music and movies and media that I'm obsessed with. Like Fire Emblem: Three House and Sleep Token. Things that I obsess over for multiple months. (And again, it's all the same design theme).
Trackers & Creative Pages
Still in the yearly spreads at the front of the journal, I have different trackers and idea pages. This takes up a lot of space, because creativity is really important to me.
The reading tracker is the big one. I've been doing this since I started bullet journalizing in 2016 (rather than regular journaling). It's pretty simple. Book, author, date read, rating.
I typically do four pages of this, which is normally around 150-200 books. Some years I fill 'em all up, others I don't. But it's more about keeping track of what I read than pushing myself to read a certain number of books. Last year was about 50 books less than the year before, and this year, I'm trending higher than both years. Currently at 45. I need to go and plug those back in here.
This year, I also added a "book challenge" page. This is new for me, but was spawned after looking at my list of books from last year. Lets just say, romance topped the charts. When COVID started, I was used to reading for fun and for class. Through undergrad and grad school, I had that challenge in what I read and was able to think critically for all my coursework. Once I graduated, I lost that.
It's been hard to combine the types of reading that I've always done. My "free time" reading was always more "mindless." Not easier topics, just different. I really do miss using my brain the way I did in grad school, so I'm challenging myself to broaden what I read. To kickstart this, I added a bunch of different genres to this challenge.
Writing & Journaling Inspiration Spreads
The last spreads in the yearly part of my journal have to do with writing and journaling. I created a writing tracker again this year, despite the fact that I never use it. So that's going to waste already. I do write, I just can't quantify it based on days. I have idea pages in this section, and that works much better for tracking my writing.
You can see the writing landing page in the last photo, next to the reading tracker. I rarely doodle in my journals, but the typewriter doodle didn't turn out too bad, even though I accidentally deviated from the theme (because I hated the way the wire grid looked behind it). Below are a couple pictures from these two sections. The first is a blank timeline to track the progress of my novel (left) and the landing page for the bullet journal section (right). Then there's my Tombow pen key and some ideas for spreads.
And that brings us to the Monthly/weekly sections.
This is broken down into three main spreads. The landing page and monthly calendar, the four/five weekly spreads, and a reflection page at the end of the month. Sometimes other things get added, like regular journaling pages, or a collage of something, or music lyrics, etc. But mainly, I've evolved my weeklies to combine everything I need so I don't have additional pages.
I did a Macbook theme for January. Honestly, I just thought it was a cute idea, but I also spend a lot of time on my Apple Calendar nowadays. I just quit, but for the last seven months, I was in a role where I didn't want my work tasks written in my journal calendar, so I was mainly using my digital one. I thought this was a cute way to bridge that.
Below is the landing page (with the multiple windows and file folders) that is the start of my January section as well as one of the weekly spreads and the final reflection page at the end. The weekly includes sections for my weekly goals, mental health summary, end-of-week thoughts, notes, and of course, the daily breakdown.
This is probably my favorite month so far. It's not the most creative and it's been done before, but I normally never create designs I have to actually draw, so I'm really proud of how this looks! I wanted something with the Valentine's color scheme without actually needing to go full Valentine's Day.
The calendar on this one didn't turn out so great, because of course, I tried to free hand little candy hearts... which obviously went poorly, and I used the wrong marker color on the lettering. But I did pull the strawberries all the way through all of the pages.
My January weeklies didn't have any designs, because I wasn't sure how to continue the MacBook theme without completely changing the design of the spread. So February's strawberries were much better. I really do like the lettering on the reflection page.
Again with the doodling for March! Maybe I'm evolving. I had a color scheme in mind for March but no idea what to actually do with it. I ended up creating these little Koi fish to add to the page. This whole thing gives off a mid century vibe (maybe?).
I'm pretty proud of the overall aesthetic. That being said, the Koi do not continue past the calendar page (AKA no doodles on the weeklies). I didn't like how they fit on the page. The color scheme looks great though. I really love it. (Also my gold paint marker ready made a difference).
Here at last! Of course, today's the first day of April, so I'm just creating my weekly spreads. But I thought I'd share the landing page and calendar. It's really simple, but I love the airiness of the design. I wanted to use more spring colors without doing bright flowers or anything weather-related.
The colors look a little off in the pictures, but it's close to a teal green-blue, an beige-ish olive green for the letting, and an actual tan/beige for the solid color.
I really love color-blocking and geometric design, so this came from really wanting to use that olive-ish green and offset the lettering without being symmetrical.
The calendar is so simple, but I'm a little in love with it. I used the exact same colors and boxed out the days without outlining or using a ruler. It creates this clean, slightly whimsical calendar that introduces color without going overboard.
Again, the coloring looks so off in pictures (maybe because they're really light colors), but it's really cute. There are three types of letting styles and they all look cohesive.