Another year, another planner wasted… Not anymore!
For bullet journal enthusiasts, feeling guilty about skipped and unused dated pages is not a problem. Designing your own journal means you have the flexibility, creativity and variability you might need throughout the year.
If you need more free sketching space, you have it. Or if you need a bigger weekly task page, you can design that too.
Hello everyone, and in this blog post I’d like to get ready for 2018 with you. Get your pens, papers and creative juices ready!
An Introduction to the Bullet Journal
Bullet journals have been rising in popularity in recent years. Tagged as “The Analog System for the Digital Age”, the original bullet journal developers (view their website here) imagined a semi-strict system for productivity.
The basic system was envisioned as a customizable and ‘forgiving’ system, with legends and markers such as bullets, checkboxes, check marks, and so on. Filled in checkboxes can represent accomplished tasks, half-filled in checkboxes as tasks currently in progress, and arrows as tasks that have been postponed to a later deadline.
The system can also get quite complicated, with things like daily logs (daily things to do), weekly logs, and monthly logs. All of these things can be added onto or completely removed from your own journal, making it perfect for your uses.
Really, that’s the beauty of bullet journaling. There are many gorgeous planners out there, but sometimes they just don’t fit right. Maybe they don’t have a big space for monthly events, or there’s no health and fitness tracker. Unlike Goldilocks, you can just create the perfect fit for yourself. (You don’t even have to use bullets!).
I’ve been doing some form of journalling for ages. Mostly I do a lot of doodling and art (I’ve shared about dumpsite 99 and The Red Book before). Now that I’m trying a more structured approach, I thought I’d share my set-up for anyone interested!
Getting Ready For the New Year
My go-to productivity set-up this year is really all thanks to my family.
I feel like to be productive, you always need to have pen and paper on hand. This is to jot down writing ideas and art concepts, both of which are my priorities this year (as they are every year). As a part-time ghostwriter and student, I also need to have a smartphone, tablet or laptop with me at all times.
My sister gave me two of the things on my wishlist, because she is the best. One is this Cassy Kicks Daily Pouch from Punchdrunk Panda. I love it. I feel so put-together. It’s also yellow-orange.
Inside the organizer are some essentials, a new tablet I got from my mom (it wasn’t in my wishlist, because I was realistic, but I am indescribably thankful for it!!!), a small notebook and my journal notebook.
The small notebook is also from my sister. I’ve been using the series all throughout 2017, and I love it. The notebook has grid lines and a cute #relate cover design. You can find the Piggy Journals from All&Sundry PH.
Finally, I have this journal from Muji (the best minimalist store in the world). With the help of my mom, I bought this A5 Double Ring Notebook with dotted paper. The link goes to the online European catalog, since their Philippines website still doesn’t have a store.
If I read this correctly, the size of the notebook is A5, with 70 sheets. This is just right for me, since I plan to fill it with weeklies (weekly logs), and not daily sheets. A part of me misses using Moleskine, but I really can’t justify the price when alternatives like these are much cheaper and still as good.
My 2018 Language of Flowers Set-up
Flowers, flowers, flowers. I’ve always been enamored by the thought of flowers having complicated meaning. I even made a bunch of floriography cards a couple of years ago.
For this year, I decided to base my design entirely around the flowers of each month. A quick Google and consultation with floriography books revealed the appropriate flowers and their meanings. I’ve been working on this set-up since December.
For the front page right there, I plan to color each flower in as each month finishes as well.
There are many different flowers for each month, depending on what source you are referring to. I used the one which was either more commonly used, or the one with the more appropriate meaning.
You can see a carnation, iris, daffodil, daisy, lily of the valley, rose, larkspur, glad, aster, marigold, chrysanthemum, and narcissus. A soft clock of flowers.
Some people choose to change their journal themes every month, or even every week. Because I’m too lazy for that kind of thing, I decided to stick with flowers for the whole year. Vaguely.
Yearly Set-up for 2018
The start of a bullet journal can contain things like your personal details (similar to most planners). It can also contain a monthly calendar, goals for the year, and so on.
For bullet journals specifically, there is almost always a table of contents. I did a very simple design for mine. I’ll also have to write a second table of contents to log future pages.
I tailored my yearly spreads to my personal goals. This is a journal meant for personal and academic use, so the spreads are also focused on the humanities and on my wishlists in life.
The first spread is pretty basic. I have a 2018 calendar for quick reference on one side, and a big quote page on the other.
Some people choose to forego a calendar, or print and paste one. Some also choose to expand the 2018 calendar so that there’s space to put important events. I just left some space at the bottom to note birthdays and events. I also used a shade of purple because that’s related to the Pantone color of the year.
The inspirational quote is from Lao Tzu.
Next comes the more personalized spread. I spent some time thinking how I want to note my accomplishments in writing and art, and came up with this:
On one side, I have this cheeky typewriter writing log. I plan to just list down every blog post, essay and non-academic writing I produce for the year until I hopefully fill out the paper.
As a side note, buying a pink typewriter has always been my dream.
For the art gallery, I plan to make little sketches of whatever art I make and “hang” them within the frame. I also want to list down the museums and galleries I visit at the bottom.
Coming up with these designs was fun. They’re like a very condensed and very personalized version of those Moleskine passion journals.
I imagine a chef would design a page with empty plates for new recipes? Maybe a runner would design a long, winding course and draw goalposts as they finish each marathon or race. The possibilities are truly endless.
The next spread is a bit similar, but there’s less space to list down things. I don’t really expect to fill pages upon pages listing down the movies I’ve watched, books I’ve read, and places I’ve been to.
In the verso page, I have a little nook with a bookshelf to list down the books I’ve read this year, and a 2018 in film screen for the movies. I thought of listing down TV series as well, so maybe I might add those in the future.
On the recto page is a blank map as a log for travel, a savings battery and a list for all of my goals and material wants.
I’m not sure yet how much 100% is for the savings battery. I’ll figure it out.
I also made a rule for myself. If it’s not written on the list, I can’t buy it. I also obviously can’t write the item then and there. I hope this prevents me from impulse buying, haha!
Monthly Set-up for January
Time for the month of carnations!
As stated above (though you might not be able to read it clearly), carnations, or Dianthus caryophyllus, stand for admiration, love and affection. The meanings can also change depending on the color of the carnation, but I’m obviously using a pink carnation for this month.
I’m still thinking if I should color the flower… and if so, what medium should I use? Watercolor or pencil?
The next spread contains overviews of the month.
The monthly calendar is obviously just that. I plan to write down important events, like exams, module changes, and holidays. I also have a space below for monthly tasks and finances.
I’m honestly not sure what to do with the finances portion, since I’m already fairly reliant on my desktop spreadsheets and phone Money Manager application. Maybe I’ll just put in my earnings and a summary of my utilities? We’ll see.
On the recto page is one of my favorite BuJo inventions: a health tracker.
There are many different types of trackers. You can track habits like watering a plant or reading a chapter from a book. With this health tracker, I’m specifically tracking the glasses of water I drink in a day (at least 8!), my diet (if I eat junk food, it’s a bad day), my activity level, and my sleeping hours.
As someone who should wake up at 6:30 in the morning every weekday, I should really be asleep by 11. I’ve actually filled out three days at the time of writing this blog post, and I can only say… I’m really bad at sleeping early.
Finally, the last monthly spread features a monthly reflection log and a blank page.
The header for the verso page simply reads: “January – Admiration, love and affection log“. With the rising popularity of mental health awareness and mindfulness nowadays, such positive pages are becoming more and more common in bullet journals. I think that’s great.
At the end of each day for January, I plan to go back to this page to record 1 or 2 lines about something I found admirable or lovable throughout the day.
For example, I was cleaning my disaster of a room the other day. For January 2, I wrote down “I admire people who can keep their rooms clean”.
I think taking the time to appreciate something positive like that can really improve a person’s disposition.
The blank page is space for whatever else I can think of in the future.
Weekly Set-up for January 1 to 7
I browsed through a lot of ideas before I eventually settled on a one-page, vertically-oriented boxed template for my first weekly.
I’ll still test this out for when classes start, but I plan to list down the day’s four to five lectures and cross them out as I finalize my notes for each one. I think I won’t need more than that in terms of height or width per day.
I left some space at the bottom for anything I find inspirational during the week, like a quote, or for any other notes really.
Since this week is turning out to be a pretty domestic one, I probably won’t have cause to doodle in the empty recto page. Most likely I’ll just write in my weekly for January 8 to 14 there.
Are You Ready for 2018?
These tools won’t absolutely help you in 2018; I don’t expect that much from them either. We’re both on a journey to see if it works. If it doesn’t, too bad –at least I have another travel sketchbook.
The truth is that there’s no magic wand or tool or gadget that can make life easier. It’s down to us and to our efforts and commitments. To be fair to everyone, there’s a pretty high probability that we’ll all get lazy somewhere in the middle of 2018. That’s okay.
Because I think the point of new year and new year’s resolutions –societal concepts that they are– is to forgive ourselves for a bit of our mistakes, and then feel rejuvenated and justified to try again in the future. It’s a basic and even primitive lesson, but really, the important thing is that we try.
Have a good day, a great year, and a healthy life!!!