My January Bullet Journal Setup

My January Bullet Journal Setup

I approach any trend with a degree of scepticism. I question whether it is right for me, just because it has worked for a seemingly large portion of the population (to give an example, I totally learnt the hard way that I do not suit Instagram eyebrows). That’s why, despite months of gawking at pages of calligraphy and daily tasks organised into immaculately drawn boxes, I procrastinated on starting a bullet journal.

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I feared regular journaling would become a waste of time without delivering any tangle benefits – after all, I am not too bad at organisation, and didn’t want to fix something that isn’t broken. I thought my Instagram was enough of an artistic outlet, and my blog – an ideal place to share my thoughts. So, what made me ask for my first bullet journal for Christmas and jump abroad the band wagon? Turns out, as with all occurrences throughout history (yes, I am convinced that Maria getting a bullet journal will be scrutinised by future academics and I am simply trying to facilitate their job), there are several reasons:

a) I want to spend less time on technology: at the moment, I rely on everything from Google Docs to various calendar apps to organise my life. While this gets the job done, I personally benefit from spending less time on digital devices, and find that physically writing stuff down helps cement tasks and intentions in my mind much more than typing.

b) I want to keep things in one place: to explain what I mean, at the moment I track the different aspects of my life in different documents and notebooks. The books I’ve read, the articles I wish to write, how much money I’ve spent… While I will keep this system because it allows me to explore these things in greater detain than an A5 spread, my bullet journal will provide an overview of my life at a glance, a place to jot down things before they escape my head. Plus, we all benefit from being concise on occasion, from focusing on the bigger picture as opposed to the finer details.

c) I want to overcome my fear of tracking thoughts, feelings and emotions: we all know that writing is therapeutic. But up until now, I have been writing as a form of distraction, not acceptance of how I actually feel. For example, if I am angry or upset, I will start doing an outline for an upcoming blog post or write a poem about a completely unrelated topic. I don’t think I have ever kept a diary for more than a couple of days. Honestly, my inhibition is a fear of saying something cheesy, and not having much to write because sometimes I struggle with articulating my emotions in the first place. However, in the absence of deeper sentiments to express, it doesn’t hurt to write an outline of my day before bed, and if being cheesy anywhere is acceptable, it is in a private journal firmly hidden from the public’s eyeshot.

d) Many moments in life are elusive, and with time seeming to move exceptionally fast as of recent, it is easy to forget the little things that happen on a day-to-day basis, the ones which make you smile before dissolving into the monotony of our daily routines. Sometimes, it’s difficult to remember anything beyond the most significant of events. In December 2018, however, I want to be able to recall what made each month special and relive the moments I have managed to capture from each day/week.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic to discover thisΒ beautiful bullet journal from Leuchtturm 1917 among my Christmas presents and used it to pass the time while my delicious lentil and mushroom pie was baking away. And since then, I have been obsessed, creating a new board on my Pinterest to collect all of the wonderful ideas I want to implement into my pages throughout the year. What I adore the most is just how much you can personalise your journal. We all live vastly different lives, have vastly different aesthetic tastes, and we can tailor our bullet journal spreads to our preferences as much as we like. Thus, if you are new to this as I am, I encourage you to ponder deeply about what exactly you want to derive from journaling: is it organisation, a therapeutic effect, a place to keep track of thoughts and memories? What are the significant components of your life: your fitness journey, your blog, your career? Be flexible, and keep in mind that these may change in accordance with the constant meander of life.

(Just to give an example: I know I am a sensible spender, reserving not much more than a minute corner to track my expenditure, yet if you are someone who wishes to tighten their spending habits, setting up a detailed expense tracker may be beneficial.)

To save me from further rambling, let’s have a look at my bullet journal:

January Bullet Journal

Monthly bullet journal spread

As you can see, I approached January with minimalism in mind, opting for a simple blue colour palette and an uncluttered feel to each page. January, to me, is a month of serenity and reflection after the turmoil of December, a time toΒ refocus for the upcoming year. I’ve decided that I am going to preface each month with a quote or a poem that I found either particularly meaningful or beautiful in the way it is communicated.

Bullet journal calendar

Next up, we have a large calendar which provides an overview of my month at a glance and gives me room to write down any significant event/task for each day. This is neighboured by an outline of my main goals for the month, which are split into three categories: personal, career and fitness. Obviously, these are quite broad, but this in itself is beneficial to me as someone who is often enslaved by details. Thinking within a broader framework helps clarify exactly what I wish to achieve by the end of each month, and knowing that I can always refine them keeps my restless soul at peace (lol). I’ve blurred out the goals, because I plan on doing a separate post about these, and my calendar events, because they mention the company I work for.

Bullet journal goal tracker

Gratitude, of course, is an essential component of success because it revitalises our mindset if we are in a slump and helps us live in the now as a species prone to obsessing over the future. One of my aims for 2018 is to invest some time in writing firm gratitude reminders. Instead of putting pressure on myself to do this daily – something I am unlikely to keep up with – I’ve instead decided to allocate a box for monthly reflections, and for whenever I think of something significant. As mentioned above, another box is dedicated to memories and any words that I come to associate with this particular month.

<a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01BSTV1E0/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1634&amp;creative=6738&amp;creativeASIN=B01BSTV1E0&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=whatismaria-21&amp;linkId=8b03e9554ad40060a2f3290bcbe8aebc">this</a>

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The next page exemplifies the adaptability of bullet journals, the way in which they are shaped by our interests and personality. I like to keep track of the books I read, as well as any interesting podcasts I listen to and movies/series I watch. I like to go beyond the title, constructing a mini review and recording their central message or argument because I believe reading should be done with a purpose. Any book, whether good or bad, can teach us a lesson while revealing something about the world and we must try our best to remember these. For this reason I’ve decided to allocate two pages of my bullet journal to the information I find myself consuming and pondering upon throughout the month. (Once again, pardon the blur but I am saving my monthly readings for a future post, lol)

‘Vocab and quotes’ may seem peculiar, but at times I come across a word or a quotation that I must save from my void of forgetfulness at all costs. Plus, at the end of the year it will be interesting to review which sayings caught my eye at a particular time and what this may have revealed about the fluctuations in my mindset.

Bullet Journal Social media

Of course, blogging and Instagramming deserve a page of their own. I have a separate notebook detected to content creation and social media, but this spread will come in handy for not only goal setting, but for noting down brief ideas as insurance against blogging slumps (we all have them and they are not to be ashamed of). I recommend creating a reading list box to save yourself from forgetting about the fascinating material you see online/in book stores, and having ‘nothing to read’ whenever the desire to recline with a good book arises.

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There’s nothing particularly special about my weekly spreads, and this is intentional. I wanted to keep them simple and straight to the point. A space for my overall aims for that week. Plentiful room to schedule my daily tasks. A window to pre-plan posts for my food Instagram, to keep my feed coherent and know which ingredients to buy. And of course, a plan for upcoming blog posts (Saturday is paired with a question mark because I only post then if I know I’ll have sufficient time to create quality content). I’ve dedicated a space to list anything I need to purchase to save me from clogging up the ‘notes’ app on my phone, as well as the previously-mentioned expenditure tracker. Finally, I’ve left a gap to keep track of my mood, sleep and exercise after each day draws to a close, and to do a brief reflection on each week to stay mindful and grounded.

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Last but not least is a page dedicated to January reflections. An uninhibited space to write whatever crosses my mind at the end of the month, to revisit my intentions and analyse my proximity to the goals I’d outlined on the first page.

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I am aware that I am not the most artistically competent person in the world and still have a lot to learn about journaling, but I thoroughly believe that there isn’t a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do it, and it is our individual responsibility to explore what works for us and what doesn’t. Let us hope that my wholehearted excitement about this little journey does not dissolve into nothingness as the year progresses because I believe it carries many wonderful benefits that I’ve already experienced in a short space of time. Also, do pardon my inability to write anything less than 1500 words – I did intend for this post to be a quick one, but intentions do not always align with outcomes!

Let me know in the comments: do you have a bullet journal? What does a typical weekly spread look like for you?

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Lots of love, MariaΒ β™‘

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(Note: this post contains affiliate links, which do not affect the price of the product they’re associated with, but simply allow me to earn a small commission)

82 Comments

  1. SimpleSerenity January 4, 2018 / 7:58 pm

    I still need to get myself new journal for this year, I have to actually look for perfect one. Yours is so cute and love the blue color, it’s so calming. xx

    • whatismaria January 4, 2018 / 9:56 pm

      I would totally recommend the Leuchtturm brand, the quality is amazing and it allows for so much flexibility! And thank you very much – blue definitely does symbolise calmness in my opinion πŸ™‚

  2. hell0chloe January 4, 2018 / 8:07 pm

    I need to start a bullet journal soooo desperately, I have so many journals but haven’t gotten around to making a bullet one yet! Yours is so aesthetically pleasing, amazing post as always xxx

    • whatismaria January 4, 2018 / 9:57 pm

      You should definitely give it a go because I have been loving it so far! And thank you very much, so so happy you liked it xox

  3. The Style of Laura Jane January 4, 2018 / 9:34 pm

    I love the layout of the journal. As usual, I agree with what you say. I haven’t kept a personal diary for a long time because I’m so fearful if someone reads my embarrassing or awkward thoughts. And although I share my honest feelings on my blog, it is kind of structured and I do worry whether it’s worth reading or is it a good topic etc. xxx

    • whatismaria January 4, 2018 / 10:08 pm

      Thank you so much! And I couldn’t agree more – while I am always honest on my blog, I always try my hardest to make sure nothing I say sounds cheesy or not meaningful to my readers. The bullet journal has certainly helped because I do not have to worry about anyone reading it if I don’t want them to! xx

  4. auchatbleublog January 4, 2018 / 10:28 pm

    Oh my gosh! Your bullet journal is so pretty! I love all the little flower drawings.

    • whatismaria January 5, 2018 / 6:52 am

      Thank you very much! They were so fun to create πŸ™‚

  5. valentinabrenni January 4, 2018 / 10:46 pm

    I love the idea of tracking what you are reading and thoughts on it. I’m similar to you. I have so many documents capturing various things but I like everything in one space. I’ve recently started a bullet journal for a new website I want to start and it’s been really good having everything in one space, in my handbag so I can pull it out and add to it at any time.

    • whatismaria January 5, 2018 / 6:53 am

      The reading bit probably has to be my favourite part so far! Having a bullet journal makes life so much easier, even saving me from having to find the correct notebook every time I need to go somewhere :’) Good luck with starting your website!

  6. kjstudey January 4, 2018 / 11:20 pm

    I love the blue theme, so aesthetically please 😁

  7. Beyoutiful January 4, 2018 / 11:23 pm

    This is such a great idea and love your bullet journal! I should prob start actually writing in a journal of my own instead of adding everything to my computer. Def a creative post <3

    • whatismaria January 5, 2018 / 6:54 am

      Thank you! I would totally recommend it – it’s not only great for organisation, but also super relaxing πŸ™‚ Glad you liked this post xox

  8. Isabella Grande January 4, 2018 / 11:28 pm

    Like you I have refrained from the bullet journaling trend, but this Christmas I was given a How to book on the subject! Now I’m really loving it! I like how you did yours (esp. the color scheme!)!
    xx

    • whatismaria January 5, 2018 / 6:55 am

      Haha I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s slightly late to the trend, I’m super happy about just how much of a positive experience it’s been. And thank you so much – I’m happy you like it:) xox

  9. crystalsandcurls January 5, 2018 / 12:32 am

    YES MARIA! I have to admit, I share your skepticism of massively popular trends, but bullet journalling is something that genuinely really helped me get organised and makes a really lovely keepsake, so I’m glad you’re trying it. Plus, your January spread is super super cute! xx

    • whatismaria January 5, 2018 / 6:56 am

      I think with bullet journaling, it’s all about finding what works for you and if you manage to do that, it can be super useful and make organisation so much more fun πŸ™‚ And I am so glad you like it, thank you! xox

  10. Laura @ Feast Wisely January 5, 2018 / 12:37 am

    Lovely post Maria and I’m sure putting pen to paper is going to come back big time – I was thinking that this week when watching The Crown and seeing the Queen handwriting letters at her desk with a gorgeous letter set…..beats email anyday!

    • whatismaria January 5, 2018 / 6:58 am

      Thank you Laura! Going back to the basics can be amazing from time to time, especially as I enjoy handwriting so much. Also, I totally need to start watching the Crown soon – it looks like an incredible series!

  11. Sarah January 5, 2018 / 1:33 am

    This styling and layout is beautiful! I wouldn’t want to use it for risk of ruining it πŸ˜‰ I really love how fresh it looks and not overcrowded πŸ™‚ If you want to make me one and send it my way I won’t object πŸ˜‰ ;P

    • whatismaria January 5, 2018 / 6:59 am

      Haha to be honest I’ve already ruined this week’s spread with my messy handwriting and notetaking :’) Thank you very much for your lovely comment, I would absolutely love to make you one if I could!! xox

  12. Jen Clay January 5, 2018 / 3:00 am

    I’ve just re-started my bullet journal for this year! I absolutely love the unique set-up you have for your weekly spreads – definitely gonna be trying that out for my next week. As always, thanks for sharing such a lovely post πŸ™‚

    • whatismaria January 5, 2018 / 6:59 am

      Ahh good luck with your bullet journal! I am sure yours is amazing πŸ™‚ And you are always welcome – so glad you found it helpful <3

  13. lifeofangela January 5, 2018 / 5:02 am

    This looks incredible Maria! I’ve always wanted to start a bullet journal, but I don’t think I would spend too much time on it, what with my other hobbies I like to do to haha! Maybe one day πŸ™‚

    • whatismaria January 5, 2018 / 7:01 am

      Thank you Angela:) Drawing out all of the patterns on the front page took a while haha, but apart from that it hasn’t been too time consuming at all! I’m sure you will love bullet journaling if you choose to try it out xox

  14. N January 5, 2018 / 5:32 am

    Your journal is beautiful!!! I am in awe of it.

    • whatismaria January 5, 2018 / 7:02 am

      Omg thank you! That means a lot to me xx

      • N January 5, 2018 / 7:16 am

        πŸ™‚

  15. sophie January 5, 2018 / 6:54 am

    The colours are gorgeous xx

  16. Dippy-Dotty Girl January 5, 2018 / 8:04 am

    Prettily done, Maria. But what caught my eye was that caught you began with. It is deep. I intend to jot it down in my own journal for when I get too materialistic. Reminders help to keep us grounded, don’t they? I am a big fan of jotting down quotes and poems in my journal. I am not a bullet journal person but I do note down things that I see and want to remember. I stopped for a long time after my mother started spying on my daily diary that I maintained as a teen, and it was cheesy, hell ya. I was reading it recently and squirming. xx

    • whatismaria January 5, 2018 / 12:42 pm

      Haha sometimes it is so funny to look back at old journals and laugh at what was going on in our heads! This year I intend to note things down to keep them firmly embedded in my memory as much as possible because it is important not to forget the poems/quotes/sights that caught our eye. Thank you very much for your lovely and thoughtful comment as always <3

      • Dippy-Dotty Girl January 6, 2018 / 6:41 am

        Firmly capture those memories for the retention of the brain is a fickle thing πŸ™‚ xx

  17. Britney January 5, 2018 / 8:14 am

    Your bullet journal looks amazing! I love the blue color.

    • whatismaria January 5, 2018 / 12:38 pm

      Aww thank you, I am rather happy with how the blue theme turned out πŸ™‚ <3

  18. Lorelie Joy January 5, 2018 / 11:46 am

    Ohhhh this is so cute my goshhhh!
    Ljoy xo

  19. Gluecksgeist January 5, 2018 / 12:16 pm

    Omg!! Your bullet journal is beautiful!! Well done xx

    • whatismaria January 5, 2018 / 12:37 pm

      Thank you! That’s so kind of you πŸ™‚ xox

  20. Alys January 5, 2018 / 12:21 pm

    Your journal is so beautiful! I started one yesterday but I’m being very minimal with it, so that it doesn’t cause me stress or stop me from filling it in haha πŸ™‚ Inspiring post <3
    Alys

    • whatismaria January 5, 2018 / 12:37 pm

      Yes I think that minimalism is such a good approach to journaling! Thank you very much for your lovely comment πŸ™‚ xox

  21. grace January 5, 2018 / 4:54 pm

    These are beautiful spreads! I kept a bullet journal for quite some time, but I really slipped out of it. I’m in high school, so the only things i was really keeping track of is homework and blog ideas. I have a separate little notebook for my homework to do (something that I don’t plan on keeping when I finish) and something for blog and journal combined (this I do want to hold onto)
    xo, Grace
    // https://thewildflowergirls.wordpress.com

    • whatismaria January 5, 2018 / 8:52 pm

      Thank you very much! It sounds like you have quite a good system going on (I will probably have a separate notebook for all my assignments once I start uni later this year) but at times it can be beneficial to keep things in one place πŸ™‚ xox

  22. lovehayleybeth January 5, 2018 / 9:28 pm

    This looks so beautiful! One day I will get round to creating my own bullet journal!

    • whatismaria January 6, 2018 / 3:25 pm

      Thank you so much! And good luck with your bullet journal if you start one 😊

    • whatismaria January 6, 2018 / 3:26 pm

      Thank you! I’m so happy to hear you like it xo

  23. kittyp0p January 5, 2018 / 10:36 pm

    Very pretty (: love that blue color!

    • whatismaria January 6, 2018 / 3:26 pm

      Ah thank you! The blue theme was super fun to create πŸ™‚

    • whatismaria January 6, 2018 / 3:27 pm

      That’s definitely the vibe I was going for so I am so happy you think so! Thank you for your lovely comment 😊

  24. ughmango January 6, 2018 / 3:00 pm

    Your bullet journal is so beautiful! I love the harmonious and soft blue shades you have used on the pages 😍 I really want to start a bullet journal too but I just don’t have the creative skills like you do! xx

    • whatismaria January 6, 2018 / 7:38 pm

      You should definitely go for it – my creative skills are definitely not on par with those of most people in the bullet journal community, but it’s such a great activity to invest some time in regardless! Thank you as always for your lovely comment xox

    • whatismaria January 6, 2018 / 9:15 pm

      Thank you so much! I had a lot of fun creating this theme so I am glad you like it πŸ™‚

  25. J | thenellybean January 6, 2018 / 7:55 pm

    I definitely agree with the fact that writing stuff down helping you remember it better than typing it, I have a to-do list on my laptop but I always resort to my handwritten ones! Not sure what that’s all about but hey, it’s good to have a break from technology sometimes. Wh at a beautiful journal, I love the watercolour design. Hope 2018 treats you well! xx

    • whatismaria January 7, 2018 / 6:17 pm

      I definitely find that this is the case when I am studying for exams too, maybe it’s because it takes longer and thus makes you focus harder on what you’re writing. And thank you very much! Hope 2018 is amazing for you too xox

  26. anoekreintjes January 7, 2018 / 10:08 am

    ‘(to give an example, I totally learnt the hard way that I do not suit Instagram eyebrows)’ Haha, I absolutely love this sentence!

    I just started my first bullet journal too! It is so great to have one place to have everything instead of having list all around the house.

    • whatismaria January 8, 2018 / 8:02 am

      Lol it may be funny in hindsight, but also quite tragic because I don’t think they could have looked any worse :’) and good luck with your bullet journal – that’s definitely one of the things I love the most about them! Xx

  27. Hannah January 7, 2018 / 7:51 pm

    This is beautiful on ever level yet still so very practical! I love it!!

    • whatismaria January 8, 2018 / 8:01 am

      Thank you – that’s definitely what I was going for so it means a lot that you think that πŸ™‚

    • whatismaria January 8, 2018 / 8:01 am

      Thank you so much! I am sure your bullet journal is absolutely gorgeous πŸ™‚ and thank you very much for the nomination, that means a lot xox

      • Ivy & Em January 9, 2018 / 12:33 am

        Thanks πŸ™‚ And you’re welcome!

  28. Rosie January 7, 2018 / 8:13 pm

    I love your bullet journal layout, I’ve actually gone for pretty much the same colour theme as well! Like you, I also want to spend a bit less time on technology. I ended up taking over a week off my laptop and social media over Christmas/New Year and it felt so good. It’s difficult once the semester starts back up because I use my laptop every day, but I want to get better at switching off and randomly scrolling on social media when I don’t need to.

    • whatismaria January 8, 2018 / 8:00 am

      I didn’t spend too much time on my computer/phone either over the Christmas period and it honestly felt amazing, especially as it gave me the opportunity to be fully present when spending time with my family. It is tricky when we have to use technology for work, but having a break from time to time is super beneficial. I’m so glad you like this layout, thank you for your lovely comment πŸ™‚ xox

  29. Petal Hugs January 8, 2018 / 11:58 pm

    Waaaah. Your spreads are so beautiful. Doesnt look like u just started doing journals. Really beautiful!

    • whatismaria January 9, 2018 / 5:24 am

      Wow that’s so nice of you! It’s been a fun new hobby and I’m very glad you like these spreads 😊

  30. Bullet Journalist January 17, 2018 / 7:07 pm

    Very beautiful layout and a lovely choice of blue! Keep up the great work!

    • whatismaria January 24, 2018 / 7:25 am

      Thank you! That’s very kind of you πŸ™‚

    • whatismaria February 5, 2018 / 3:41 pm

      So glad you like it! Thank you for reading:) xx

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