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Last year I started a bullet journal (my own super easy version, that is), and this is how I’m setting up my bullet journal for the new year.
On a whim last year, I pulled out a composition book and started using it as a bullet journal. My main reason for this sudden impulse was I was tired of having to write down extra lists and notes on random pieces of paper (which never had a home), and I was also frustrated with my current planner that had a lot of space, but not for the things I needed.
With my new system, I suddenly had room for everything—the lists, blog stuff, and notes I like to take when I’m working on a project or taking a course.
That said, my bullet journal system was and is far from the norm that is on Instagram these days. I’ll admit it isn’t glamorous at all. I don’t draw out my goals or fill in drawings of cups of water as I drink them. I don’t illustrate my menus or doodle a new design on each page. I’m probably really boring which is slightly amusing since I love to do all the above. Just not in my planner.
I say this and hope it doesn’t come across wrong to those who do those things. That’s the beauty of bullet journaling. You can make it whatever you want it to be.
Before I jump into how I’m setting up my bullet journal for this year, let’s take a peek at last year’s journal just for old time’s sake.
Last year I drew a tiny picture of my daughter on a piece of tape and put it on the spine of my planner. This made me happy. Don’t be afraid to add touches to your bullet journal that are uniquely you.
I ended up using a lot of tabs for the blogging section in the journal. This made it much easier to access those pages instead of flipping to the index. In fact, after my initial set up of the bullet journal, I rarely used the index at all. Instead I used tabs to easily find the sections I used the most. I also used a Post-it note to tag the current week. I know, fancy. :)
On To The New Bullet Journal . . .
It’s funny, I initially painted the cover of my new bullet journal (composition book) and was trying to think of a theme when I was gifted the latest version of Flow’s Book for Paper Lovers. Included in the book are several sheets of wrapping paper, including the lovely watercolor dot theme you see below. I cut the sheet to size and glued it to my composition book and will most likely cover the entire front and back with regular glue to protect the paper for the year. (White glue dries opaque and is also an excellent writing surface for pens.)
Inside the front cover, I took some paper I had made and collaged some of my goals and thoughts for the year. The Index page is directly opposite this page. I also created a page for a gift list and a goals list. (More on the goals later.)
I read a lot, but I rarely write down what I’ve read. I’d like to be better at that so I created a page for books I’ve read this year. Hopefully I’ll remember to jot down the myriads of books we read to our kiddo too. We’ve discovered so many gems in the past few years, but as I said, I’ve been terrible at actually recording them so I can’t share them with others.
I do a monthly review for my business and near the end of last year, began making it into more of a vision board. I still wrote out the review portion but found that the process of making an inspiration board for the coming month in my planner was really calming. It helped clarify what was important to me. (Goal-setting does that as well.) The vision board pictured below hasn’t been completed and I don’t intend to stick to this format every single month, but here’s a picture to give you an idea of how they start out. (Here’s a post on how to make your own inspiration boards, if you’re interested.)
This year I’m using the templates from Ruth Soukup’s Productivity Guide for Bloggers for my weekly layouts. The actual guide has an additional sheet for a daily time tracker but I had already laid out the bullet journal for the year so that didn’t quite work. I also don’t do very well with hourly time trackers since the day never goes like I want it to and it feels more frustrating than anything. I’ve found that having a simple list for the day works much better for me.
I set goals in several areas of my life this year and will be tracking them throughout the month and quarters using Ruth’s guide. I’m actually pretty excited about this since I did something similar last year which worked really well. Her method is more specific which is always a good thing when you’re setting goals.
For my monthly layout, you can see my fancy-schmancy calendar on the left (you could easily print a calendar off the computer and glue it in to your bullet journal) and the vision board on the right. And yes, I used a pen that smeared all over the place. Oh well.
On a side note, a lot of the papers I used in this bullet journal are from the Book for Paper Lovers. This year’s version even has a monthly calendar section that I’ll be using for my blog post schedule. :)
There is one bummer about my system this year and that is there’s no room for me to add in all the printables that Ruth offers in her productivity course. So I printed out the monthly, quarterly, and yearly goal sheets and put them in a notebook. I’ll probably leave it open on my desk so I can reference it regularly. Otherwise it’s out of sight out of mind for me. :/
By the way, one of the things I really liked about this course was you choose what success in each of your goals will look like for you. So you decide what you need to do in order to be satisfied with hitting your goal, what would make you happy, and what would be hitting your goal out of the ballpark. I’ve found that defining my own version of success (for blogging and life in general) has been key. I remind myself of this all the time: “Wait, before you start comparing, was that even in your definition of success to begin with?”
I haven’t laid out the blogging portion of my journal in great detail, though I’ve made goals for it. That part will probably be a monthly calendar, to-dos for the month, and a monthly review section. I’ll keep it simple since I’m already tracking everything in the printables notebook (as well as my weekly notebook.) Having to write things out more than once in several different places . . . yeah, no thank you.
So, that’s my bullet journal for now. I’m sure it will change and evolve through the year but I thought I’d share what I have so far.
What kind of planner are you using this year? (If you’re using one. :))
P.S. I mentioned Ruth Soukup’s Productivity Guide for Bloggers a lot in this post because I’m using it to plan my year. I’m not an affiliate for that guide, though I am for her course, Elite Blog Academy (which I love.) If you’d like to learn more about either/or of these courses, definitely get on her waiting list. You’ll be treated to several free resources that will help you with your business, and you can see if either one of these courses is a good fit for you.
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