A new year means a new bullet journal setup, and I’m so, so excited to share this one with you all. After bullet journaling for several years, I’ve realized what has worked best for me and what hasn’t. As my life changes, so do my needs, and I’ve done a great deal of reflection for the first half of 2022’s minimal setup. With that said, let me walk you through my setup and my mindset for each spread. (You can also check out a short video flipthrough on Instagram!)
The Bullet Journal Method
Before I go further, I need to take a moment to strongly recommend reading The Bullet Journal Method straight from the creator himself. Whether you are a new or old bullet journaler, this book is so helpful for your practice. I learned so much from reading it this past fall. Most of the changes I made in my journal this go-around were because of this book.
First, the notebook
After using Dingbats notebooks for the past four journals in a row, I’m going back to my roots and revisiting my first love: Leuchtturm1917. I’m using their official Bullet Journal Edition 2 in Blush, which has so many cool features: stickers, a grid guide, numbered pages, a wider border, three page markers, and a detachable Bullet Journal® pocket guide. It also has 120 g/sqm cream pages, which are perfect because I hate ghosting and bright white paper. Finally: I just love the color and embossing!
The Key & Title Page
This journal comes with a default Key, but I also added a few more symbols I use in my notebooks. I also love including a title page just to set the tone for my notebook. This year, I went with my usual fun collage motif and some Adele lyrics that have really resonated with me lately: “Let time be patient. Let pain be gracious.”
It is my belief that the index is the most important, and most underrated, spread of your entire notebook. How often do you start a collection or write an interesting journal entry and then can’t find it later? It might just be the fact that I am working on a book of journal entries now and have to tab off every significant page, but the index is essential.
In the past, I have only allowed one or two pages for an index, and only logged major collection pages and the months. This year, I’m doubling that number to a controversial four. I’m going to try to use this page much for frequently, as intended in The Bullet Journal Method, and list everything here I’d like to find later. I’m also listing contents as the topic first, page number second, instead of creating restrictive “topic” and “page number” columns. This way, when I start threading pages, they can all fit nice and neat on the same line, and I have plenty of freedom to add more if needed.
The Future Log
This year, instead of creating a yearly goals page and feeling like a failure if I don’t complete everything (haha), I thought of trying something I haven’t seen yet: merging my goals with my future log, by seasons (or quarters). After much reflection, I realized this way of approaching goals felt more manageable and natural.
Since I intend to fill this notebook by June, this book will only house Winter (Jan-Mar) and Spring (Apr-June). In the far-left column, I’ll list any tasks or projects I’d like to complete that season. Under each specific month, I’ve allowed space for events and appointments in the top half. In the bottom half, there’s space for a monthly focus. As my bullet journal fills, I’ll revert to this log when it comes to future planning and goal setting: all in one convenient. Then, when it’s time to set up each up new month, I’ll look back on this spread to migrate tasks, goals, and plans.
Over time, I’ve learned my brain works better when I think of time in a manner of seasons instead of years, since my goals change with them.
The Monthly Log
Cover page + Monthly dashboard
For my monthly logs, I usually like to start with a collage on the left-hand side to set the tone for the month. I don’t do “themes” because I get bored with them quickly, so I stick to more in-the-moment, mindset-driven collages. I thought this one was very appropriate for winter! I also don’t want my setups to take too long, because then I will dread doing them.
On the right-hand page, I have an easy, minimal header stamped with the month, an area for two focus items, and half the page for a running task list. Here, I’m using the Alastair method, with a bullet for non-week tasks, followed by the week numbers and a right arrow for future tasks.
If you aren’t familiar with the Alastair method, I highly suggest reading up on it, since it’s an easy way to log tasks in advance when you use a rolling daily log like I do, instead of a planner-style weekly log. You write a task on the right, then put a dot in the column of the week you’d like to complete it! Put a dot in the bullet column if it can be done in any week, or put a dot in the arrow column if you want to do it next month.
I’m a pretty visual person, so I like including a calendar view in my monthly setups. Here, I kept it pretty simple: 5×5 boxes for dates with room for stickers, symbols, and sticky notes, and a column on the right to list out the events or appointments. Then I draw a diagonal line in pencil on the day when there’s an event. This way, if an event changes, I can just erase it, no harm done. This keeps my calendar looking nice and clean, and not too cluttered.
I have two kinds of trackers in each monthly setup: my habits and my gratitude. On the left, I have a running habit tracker for key things I like to track: days I read, write, exercise, or do yoga/meditation. Then I also like to fill in my general mood and if I was on my period. It’s fun to look back when the month’s over, and it also motivates me to do more of these habits, especially seeing them as streaks. Then, on the right page, I list one good thing that happened each day, with an extra column on the far left for a symbol or two.
Manuscript progress + notes
If you haven’t heard the news yet, I’m officially writing a book! I’ve been poking at it for a couple of years now, but never sat down and mapped out a plan of action. Starting in January, I want to keep track of the days I write, and allow space for notes and things. I do intend to thread these pages in my Index, so when I lay out February’s manuscript collection page, I’ll be able to flip to it quickly!
Weekly dashboard + rolling daily
Finally, I’ve got the weekly dashboard page on the left, and the rolling daily log on the right. I set up my weekly dashboard just like my monthly dashboard, where I list that week’s focus items and then tasks in an Alastair method list. I’ve also included a sticky note with a mini calendar on it and the current week circled in pencil. As the month goes on, I can migrate this sticky to each new spread and re-circle each week, so I don’t have to keep rewriting the mini calendar out each week. It saves space and adds a fun pop of color!
As per the Bullet Journal Method, I use a rolling daily log and do not lay out my weeks in advance. I’ve done weekly views before, but always follow them with the daily log. I don’t use a planner because I found the weekly setup too restrictive and not flexible enough for my needs, and truly believe if you aren’t using a rolling log in your notebook, you aren’t getting the most out of bullet journaling. Ryder Carroll writes a lot about this in his book, and after trying combinations of both, I’d have to agree.
Things I Removed
- Year at a glance. I just never referenced it, and it was a pain to lay out.
- Yearly goals collection. I replaced this with quarterly, season-focused goals in the future log instead.
- Books, TV shows, movies, video games collection pages. I moved all of these to Notion and my Passion journal since I also like to take detailed notes on all these things, and the condensed bujo version felt unnecessary. I also like having this information on my phone when someone asks, “Hey, what movies have you seen lately?” and I can never remember.
- Budget & package trackers. Also moved to Notion. Why use paper when a computer can just do all the math for you?? Plus, I like to sort my budgets by filters, and that’s…harder to do on paper.
Previous bullet journal setups
Are you keeping a bullet journal for 2022? What does your setup look like? Feel free to leave a link in the comments so I (and others!) can check it out!