In 2019 I started using a combination of Bullet Journaling and traditional journal writing as a tool to keep my days organized and to clear my thoughts on paper. In 2020 I will fix my journaling mistakes from 2019 and implement some structure. That means I did planning on how to journal in 2020. I decided to write an article on how I will use my Bullet Journal this year to help others get ideas on their journal for the new year. I know, I know, I’m a bit late, but it’s still January!
When choosing my notebook, there were a couple of factors that I had to keep in mind. I really wanted to have page numbers and a content page ready. I could always do this myself if I wanted to, but this saves me time and makes it easier to keep track where my different sections are. I am also a huge fan of dotted notebooks. It gives you the structure of lines and the freedom of blank pages.
To keep things easy and consistent, I’ll try to reference everything in the same way as the Bullet Journal website references them. This introduction video is great to follow if you want a super basic setup. My overall structure is to have longer term collections first and the short term towards the back.
Pretty self explanatory. This is where you write down the page numbers for every section. Helpful for finding something specific later in the year…or a couple years in the future.
Here I have written down my key identifiers (yes, I wrote that wrong in my journal) and signifiers. The identifiers describe what kind of Bullet I’m writing down and the signifiers can give that Bullet extra meaning. Writing these down helps me being consistent with my symbols and when reading the journal later, I’ll have more context.
This isn’t necessarily a critical part of the journal, but for me it’s great to have your career goals at hand, so I can reflect on what I have on my plate and think if there is a dissonance between my goals and what I am currently doing.
I’ve found that often I’m working on projects that span multiple months. On top of that I have long term goals in my personal and professional life. This is where the Quarterly Goals come in. By adding my goals by quarters I can plan my year and make sure I’m not putting too much on my plate during a specific time of the year.
In future log I use the basic Bullet Journal template. Divide the spread into six even areas and add one month to each area. Since the year has twelve months, I do this in two spreads.
In here I add trips, big events, projects, deadlines, and other events or tasks coming up in specific months.
My monthly log uses the basic Bullet Journal template, but I have made a few modifications and additions to it. The monthly log takes over a spread. On the left page I have all the dates written down, the date and the first letter of the weekday to keep track of things. This is where I also track habits. I have a checkbox next to each day for every habit I want to keep up with this year. I track my coding, meditating and reading habits. This is a great video from the Bullet Journal on making a simple habit tracker which I use as my template.
On the right page I use the template Charli Marie shows in her Bullet Journal video for last year. On top I have goals that will make my month a success. Under that I divide the month into weeks and add goals and tasks that need to be completed during those weeks. This allows me to spread my work throughout the month and eliminate crunch time.
This is where my hierarchy of long and short term items falls apart a bit. I have my daily logs following that specific monthly log. For me, this adds clarity to the index as I can just reference the month and all the days follow that month.
Collections are the reason why I love Bullet Journaling. It gives you flexibility. Whatever it is that I thought about: a great idea for a book, a new recipe to cook tonight, pet names, books to read, some fan fiction… I put it into a collection and add it to my index. It’s best to use a full spread (or more) for a collection, that way I can keep adding to it without having to add new pages to my index. I add my collections whenever they come up, so they are often between my daily logs.
Bullet Journaling is a great and flexible way to organize your days, weeks, months, years. I use it to keep myself on top of everything I want to get done at the office and outside of it. This is the structure I will use this year. I’m sure it will evolve during the year, as it should.
Remember that none of the segments are ever complete. I will keep adding goals to my weeks, months and quarters as they come up and move some for later if I don’t have enough time to do all I have planned. I never make myself feel bad about not being able to do everything I had planned. It’s all about prioritizing what needs to be done and what gets me closer to my long term goals.
Journaling is very personal habit. You should experiment and see what works for you. Don’t be afraid to start a year with one structure and evolve it as the year moves forward. If you have any interesting journaling habits, let me know!