Setting up my #BuJo for the New Year

It’s the last week of December, so it’s time for me to get my bullet journal set up for January 2018. Since it’s not only a new month, but also a new year, that means I also need to re-do my future log and start thinking about my 2018 goals.

You may remember from a previous post that I’ve been on the fence about the future log. It wasn’t really working for me. But, I came up with a new layout that I think might make it a little more useful. Plus, I have a lot of travel coming up this year that may make this view something I refer to more often.

I love the little mini month-at-a-glance calendars. I’ve started by highlighting birthdays and other important days. Next up, I’m going to start adding in the travel I have planned. But first, I have to nail down a bunch of trip planning.

With my future log sorted, I moved on to my January month-at-a-glance spread. It’s pretty standard. Unfortunately, I started filling it in with stuff before I remembered to take the picture. So, I resorted to creative use of card stock and my snitch necklace to obscure my calendar and goals.

There are two things I want to point out on my monthly spread… one is the Boho Berry Challenge prompts for January, and the other is the section I added to track my January reading.

This month, I started using the Boho Berry Challenge prompts for December as a daily journaling exercise. It’s been pretty fun and useful to reflect on 2017 in a slightly more organized fashion. So, I thought I’d try to keep up this practice in January. I’m not posting these publicly anywhere, which is (I think) how you’re supposed to be participating. But, lots of people are. So, if you’re interested in seeing how others are doing their prompts in their journals, definitely check out #BohoBerryChallenge on Instagram.

I’m going to do a whole post on my reading wrap-up for December and reading goals for 2018. So, I won’t spend much time talking about that here except to say that “what I’m reading in January” box was left blank on purpose. The little vertical bars are the start of boxes that I plan to draw around titles that will be written down as I start reading them in January. I know. No TBR. Shocking. Again…more on this later.

Then, I remembered that I had some “bigger than just January” goals for 2018, and I probably should have put that in before I jumped into my January month-at-a-glance. Oh well. I guess that’s what the index is for… So, I added this spread next:

When I took this photo the page on the right was still blank, but I’ve since started adding my 2018 goals on that page. The page on the left is a running training log.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that swimming is my main sport. However, due to travel plans and other life stuff going on, I’m not planning to have regular access to a pool for much of 2018. That means it’s time to get back into running shape. However, “walk” days will probably become swim days if I have access to a pool.

I haven’t been running regularly for about seven or eight years. So, I’m being smart about it and using a beginner running guide from Runner’s World. Even though I’m in pretty decent shape for swimming, swimming doesn’t translate well to running, and running doesn’t translate well to swimming. This is why (IMO) it’s pretty rare to see folks who are really good at both running and swimming. So, I’m going to take it slow, but I will say that one of my goals that I wrote on the right side of this page is “run a 10k” in 2018. But, I probably won’t be ready to tackle that until late spring at this rate.

I think that’s all the high-level planning I need to get started in the New Year. So, the next spread is my first weekly spread for January, and it looks like this:

I’ve been using this layout for a couple of weeks now, and it seems to be working for me. I can fill the boxes with day-specific events and tasks. When I’m not busy (like the last two weeks), all my “to-dos” fit nicely inside the boxes, and I don’t even need to break things down to daily spreads.

I’ve left a space in the upper right for my top goals and/or things I want to accomplish by the end of the week to keep it in my face. And, I’m working on adapting my habit tracker to this format. I’m not 100% sure which habits I want to track in January. I already have the running plan spread on the previous page where I’ll be tracking my exercise. So, I don’t think I’ll add exercise here. As I discovered during November’s NaNoWriMo tracking, I hate having to check things off in multiple places. So far, I know I’m tracking reading and writing days. I’ll probably also add “healthy eating” and meditation.

We’ll see how this format adapts to post-vacation life and if it keeps working or if I need to adapt it again.

By the way, if you’re thinking of getting started with your own bullet journal, my local bookstore had a copy of Dot Journaling, so I picked it up to get some inspiration. It’s a pretty great introduction to the expanded world of the original bullet journaling idea and has a ton of great ideas for layouts. Definitely check it out. (PSA: I am in no way affiliated with either of those links and get nothing for recommending them to you. I’m just a fan.)

Happy planning! And happy (almost) New Year!

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Experiments in Bullet Journaling #BuJo

Because I recently posted about my current notebooks on Instagram…I thought I’d do a longer post about my adventures in Bullet Journaling in case anyone reading this is also a bullet journal fan.

I’ve always been the kind of person who keeps a journal. I’ve also always been the kind of person who prefers to have a paper calendar instead of a digital calendar (though that has changed a bit in the past few years and now I have a more hybrid approach).

Don’t believe me? Here’s a photo of my 2 boxes of archived notebooks. The box on the right are old planners and work notebooks. The box on the left are old journals. The ones balanced on top in the middle are some of my stash of blank notebooks.

With this as evidence, it should be absolutely no surprise to anyone that for the past several months I’ve been messing around with this whole “bullet journaling” craze. I haven’t gone so far as to get special markers or decorate with washi tape or try my hand at fancy lettering. I’m just trying to keep it simple. In general, I use my notebook to keep track of my personal life and “hobby projects” like writing, reading, and swimming. I don’t use it to keep track of stuff for my salaried work.

After trying a bunch of different styles, I think I’ve landed somewhere between the original, utilitarian concept and the super crafty and creative BuJo spreads you can find on Instagram and YouTube.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept, here are the basic components to bullet journaling:

  • Index
  • Future Planner
  • Month at a Glance
  • Daily (or Weekly) Tracking
  • “Collections”

I’ll talk a little about how I am (or am not) using each of these components, and what I’ve found works for me.

Index (needs help)

I have completely botched this up with this first journal. I think I wrote down every page and what’s on it. I ran out of room in my allotted space and had to continue it in the last pages of my journal. Whatever I did is absolutely not working. I need to go watch some videos on how to index properly. If you have pointers, please share them with me!

Future Planner (needs help)

I made one in my journal, but it’s pretty empty, and I’m constantly forgetting to use it. Clearly, I need to figure out how to use this space. I thought about abandoning this entirely when I start a new BuJo, but I think I’ll still need a place where I can park things that aren’t due or scheduled for months, and this does seem to be the easiest way. If you have suggestions for alternative Future Planner layouts, let me know in the comments, please!

Month at a Glance (love it!)

I use a pretty basic one like they show in the “how to” video on the bullet journal website. On the page facing my month-at-a-glance, I list out my goals and the titles on my TBR for that month. I’d show you a picture, but I don’t have a blank one right now.

I am big on goals, and I really like having a place to write out all the things I want to accomplish each month. Recently, though, I’ve been struggling to accomplish very many of my monthly goals.. I think this is because, even though I wrote them down, I sort of forget about them part way through the month.

This month, I plan to use my monthly goals in combination with that section of my newly adopted weekly spread format where I write out my “top three things.” I’m hoping that will help me stay focused on what really needs to get done each week.

Daily vs. Weekly Tracking (still dialing this in…)

I started with daily tracking, switched to weekly tracking after a few months, then switched back to daily tracking for a month, and now I’m back to weekly tracking using a weekly layout that I saw on Boho Berry‘s YouTube channel. It seems to be everything I need to keep track of what needs to get done and when each week.

I took this photo before I filled in my “habit tracker legend.” These are the four things that I’d ideally do daily. What qualifies for coloring in the daily square changes from time to time. Right now “Swim” is basically my cardio, “Write” depends on what my writing goal is for that week, “Read” is almost always “at least 30 min/day,” and “Zen” depends a lot on what’s going on but meditation, or yoga, or a walk all usually count for coloring in that box.

One thing I liked about daily tracking (vs. weekly tracking) was that it helped to remind me to slow down and take one day at a time. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and a little stressed between work commitments and personal goals. I feel like I’m not accomplishing everything I want to accomplish fast enough. When I have a space to note progress on a daily basis, it forces me to acknowledge my incremental accomplishments, which I almost never do.

I feel like this spread is a good compromise between daily and weekly tracking. I may eventually switch back to daily tracking, but for now, the daily boxes on my weekly spread seem to do the trick.

Collections (still dialing this in…)

I’m not sure this is a thing that they talk about in the original bullet journal concept, but it’s a big deal with BuJo enthusiasts. I have a few collections (basically a one or two page spread) that I use to track writing goals, swimming workouts, and my monthly reading TBRs.

I’ve moved all of my swim workout and TBR tracking to my BuJo, and it’s nice to have this as an analog system for when I’m offline, traveling.

Still a work in progress… 

One thing that I’ve not yet figured out how to deal with is actual journaling. I’ve basically ended up having a separate journal for that which seems counter productive. Again, if you have thoughts on this, let me know.

Even after almost a year messing around trying to find a way to adapt bullet journaling to meet my planning needs, I’m not sure I have it completely figured out yet. But, I’m finally ready to commit to a new journal… my first REAL BuJo!

I’ve busted it out of the wrapping and decorated it with a few stickers. Now I’m getting ready to start adding content. When I do I’ll take some photos and post them.

I expect that I have just enough pages left in my current journal to get through June. That means that I’ll get to start this one at the halfway point of 2017. I’m so excited! New journals always make me happy. 🙂

Do you use a bullet journal? Post your recommendations and favorite “how to” videos in the comments, if you have any suggestions!