A Fresh Bullet Journal for the New Year

by Wendy Copley on January 5, 2017

Happy New Year! I love the start of a new year because it’s a good time for two of my favorite things: a clean slate and lots of new goals!

I just finished setting up a fresh bullet journal yesterday and I thought I’d share a little bit about how I use it day to day and show you some of the special pages I maintain. I wrote a little bit about my first bullet journal a few weeks after I adopted this method of organizing my life almost three years ago(!!) but since then I’ve tried lots of different things and I’ve settled into a basic method that really works for me.

For the most part, I follow the basic bullet journal methodology for daily lists, notes and to-dos, but I’ve dropped a few of the other elements that just don’t work for me. I found that I never used the future planning and monthly calendar lists so I’ve stopped including those in my BuJo. Instead I’ve settled on this weekly overview page:

On Monday mornings (or Sunday night) I draw this basic layout up and then write anything on my personal and our family Google calendars into the “Events” column. I rarely have appointments myself, so mostly I end up writing the kids’ activities here — practices, camps, games, etc. — anything where I need to be somewhere at a specific time.

The meal planning column is fairly self-explanatory. I fill that in with pencil because it changes a lot, but I use the events as a guide to determine what we’re having which day. Slow cooker meal on basketball practice night, for example.

I also have work and personal to-do lists where I list out the major tasks I have to get done each week. (It’s Thursday and I still haven’t taken the car to get smogged. Crap!)

And finally I have a little goals section where I check off boxes for the things I try to do every day. The basic household tasks are to help me keep on top of the daily drudgery, but I also include longer term goals on this list that benefit from daily attention. These change from time to time but currently include a daily walk, actually responding to email instead of just reading it, working on cleaning off my horrible, messy desk and sending snail mail regularly.

Special Pages:

Bullet Journal goals page - big goals on the left, smaller things on the right.

Yearly Goals

I like to write up lists of Big Goals as well as some smaller, specific goals each year. I suppose most people would refer to the big goals as resolutions, but I like to be super practical about these and come up with concrete steps to take so I don’t give up too soon. In fact, I often don’t start working on some of my bigger goals until I’m several months into the new year. Taking on too much at once is overwhelming for me and it often makes me sort of shut down and do nothing at all. The page following this spread is actually a planning page where I have started listing off ideas and tasks that will help me accomplish each of my unicorn goals.

The second side of this spread has fun stuff I am interested in trying, tasks I’ve been putting off for too long and things I would like to look up on the internet and possibly take action on. These can usually be easily accomplished in a day or even a few minutes.

Bullet Journal - books to read, books I've read

Books to Read and Books I’ve Read:

This page is specifically designed to help me accomplish one of my big goals: read a lot of books! The left side is a list of books I want to read and I have decided to mark the ones I already have in my house (or on my Kindle) with a star so I can grab a new book as soon as I finish one. I have a really awful habit of buying three or four books at a time and then forgetting a few of them in a pile for months. This should help with that!

I’m going to record the books I finish on the super cute page on the right. This is not my original idea — it’s all over the bullet journal boards on Pinterest — but I love it! I’m planning to color each book spine when I write in the title (as soon as I locate my darn colored pencils!).

Bullet Journal - snail mail log

Snail Mail Log

This is one of the primary tools in my quest to send real letters and cards. My goal is to average one piece of outgoing mail per week and I like keeping track of what I’ve sent out and who has responded to me. (People who answer my mail get bumped to the top of my “to send” list!) I had this same log in my last bullet journal and I almost filled the whole thing up in 2016. I’m kind of impressed with myself for that!

Favorite Tools:

Bullet Journal - favorite tools

Finally, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite bullet journal tools.

The Book:

My first bullet journal was a Moleskine Squared Notebook which was fine, but a few years ago I learned about the Leuchtturm 1917 notebook and I instantly fell in love. Why is the Leuchtturm 1917 better than the Moleskine? For starters it comes in more and prettier colors. It also starts off with several index pages and all of the pages are numbered — both of which make it perfect for the bullet journal format. I always choose gridded pages, but of course lined or dotted pages work fine too. The grid is just my personal preference.

The Pens:

I generally keep my Bujo pretty basic and practical and treat it like a tool instead of a place to be creative. I sometimes will throw in some washi tape or a few stickers and doodle in it pretty regularly, but mostly when I’m using it, I’m in a hurry so I ignore all of that stuff. That being said, I love to include lots and lots of color in my book and the primary way I do that is with my big set of Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens. Not too thick, not too thin, twenty colors, they don’t bleed — perfect.

The Ruler/Stencil:

I saw this Westcott 6 inch ruler in a Buzzfeed article about bullet journals last year and immediately bought one. It slips into the pocket in the back of my notebook and feeds my need to perfectly straight lines. If you are not a fussbudget you can probably skip it. I also am liking this little stencil I picked up at my local Daiso store last month. I mostly use it to make perfect circles. It also fits in the back pocket of my journal and can be skipped by non-fussbudgets.

Do you Bullet Journal? What special pages do you include in yours?

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  • Martha Gaio

    Hi Wendy! I started using a bullet journal after seeing it on your website. I haven’t ever been able to keep it up for more than a couple of months at a time. I keep trying though and have found that I really like using a disc system notebook, because I like moving things around. I love your book layout!

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