New year, new bullet journal! 

My word for the year: Abundance.

Sometimes this bujo thing can feel a bit meta, especially if you get caught up in making things look nice, as I do. The bujo is a practical tool to help plan, reflect and record your life—no colors or pictures required. I love to design my spreads, though, which takes planning. My setup this year includes eight pages of bujo planning spreads. I’ve spent about a week setting up a new bullet journal. In other words, I spend long days planning my planner.

From a certain perspective that just doesn’t make sense. Had I bought a planner, I could have saved a lot of time. Except, what would I have saved that time for? I’ve enjoyed every minute of setting up my bujo. And the process of setting it up is not just a pleasure, it also informs my plans, clarifies my goals, and sets me up to focus on exactly the things I care about most.

Reflection

The first thing I did was to spend time reflecting on 2020. At the end of my last bullet journal I took some pages to look at how December went, what the last quarter looked like, 2020 goals, and the intentions I set for the decade. Reviewing the two bullet journals I filled last year helped me form a clearer picture of the year. Here are a few observations:

  • Looking at the early months reminded me that there was life before the pandemic.
  • After working on my novel for so many years, the work all starts to blend together, but I made real progress this year. 
  • I started this blog, something I’ve been wanting to do for years.
  • Going in, I wasn’t sure why the book coaching course I started in January got sidetracked. This review helped me make the connection that I stopped completing lessons around the time I started my blog. I plan to work on a way to keep up with both in 2021.
  • I had totally forgotten that I redesigned my website this year. It’s good to remember what we have accomplished. It helps us be more hopeful and more realistic about future plans.

Plan

In addition to my bujo planning spreads, I’ve filled 27 pages of my new bullet journal with living and planning tools—way too many to share in this post. So I’ve picked a few I’m excited about to share here.

Last year I adopted this Datebook format for my Future Log. If you have to schedule your dental cleaning six months ahead, or you want to remember birthdays, you need a place to record them. That’s what the Future Log is for. But since I’m managing multiple people’s schedules, the traditional Future Log is too messy and cramped for me. Shayda Campbell’s Datebook (which you can see here) allows you to see each future months at a glance, with space for each day.

I saw a lot of dutch door spreads this year, and decided to incorporate them into my Datebook. Now I can see all the year’s mini-calendars no matter which month I’m adding dates to.

One of my favorite bullet journalers, Dan of Pacific Notation, inspired a change to my goal spread. He included a section for Meditation on his goals spread, but I read it as Motivation. I loved the idea of reminding myself why I set these particular goals, so I added a section called Aspirations next to my goals, using a layout similar to Dan’s. 

I’ve been using this spread for awhile, and I love it. I created it to give me a place to note things I’d like to do at some indefinite point in the future. It’s more organized than a brain dump, but functions in much the same way—providing a place to jot down ideas so I don’t have to hold them in my head.

I wanted to include this spread, and some of the others, to show that even simple spreads can have a powerful impact in improving your life. There’s never a need to decorate unless you really enjoy it. 

Days vary: I buy groceries one day, my husband makes dinner one evening, my son has evening lessons on some days. Weekends feel different from weekdays. Each day of the week has its own schedule, but Mondays are often similar to each other, as are other days of the week. By having a typical, ideal Monday schedule written down, I can hone in on how to structure my day before I’m distracted by life. It also gives me perspective. Now when I don’t get any writing done on Tuesday I know it’s because I never get much writing done on Tuesdays (too many activities), so I don’t beat myself up about it.

Inspired by Reflect with Raksha, I’ve also added a Reminders page. (You can see hers here.) It’s a place to put some of the realizations, thoughts, and inspiration that I discovered in my reflection. They’re so easy to forget.

One of the great things about bullet journaling is that it helps calm your mind and heart. I’ve set aside a page to record one thing I’m grateful for each month to help me appreciate the abundance of good things in my life.

Many people include a wishlist in their bullet journals. I’ve reframed this idea as Sparks (things, media, and life possibilities that spark my interest) and Let Go (things and life elements I’m ready to let go of). This helps me refocus on paying attention to the things that interest me, and balance that with releasing what I no longer need. 

Do you spend time planning at the beginning of a new year?

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Next Week: Part 2—Writing Plans.

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