Planning 2017 In My Bullet Journal

This is my first New Year since I started using a bullet journal. A lot of people highly recommend starting a fresh journal for the new year, but as I’m not even halfway through my Leuchtturm 1917 I’m going to stick with my old one.

Here are the spreads I’ve come up with:


Whenever I set tangible goals or deadlines for myself, they tend to have the opposite effect. Read twenty-six books in a year? my brain says incredulously. Ha! Try none-six!

So I’m trying to simply adjust my attitudes and expectations rather than hold myself to a hard target.


With that in mind, I’ve added these quotes from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. When the world is getting me down, re-reading these will help reset my attitude.

I hope.


In an attempt to trick myself into reading more (because I honestly do want to read more), I made this grid. My brain loves to fill in boxes, so having this ready and waiting to be filled out throughout the year should make the prospect of reading regularly more appealing.

I hope.


I heard about this over on Boho Berry’s blog. It’s a financial challenge. Every week, you put a certain amount into your savings account and then color in the box. For example, if money’s tight, just toss an extra buck in and color the “1” square. If you have extra, throw in one of the bigger numbers and color in that square. By the end of the year, you will have tricked your brain into saving more money than you normally would have.

I’m sensing a pattern, my brain grumbled silently to itself.

Being healthy is a nonstop goal. I’ve told my brain that my body is a hoarder. Anything I eat that can’t be used immediately is stored as fat, so let’s maybe only eat stuff I can use, mmkay brain? To that end, I’m going to fill in this grid with my diet staples, then in my daily spreads I can make bar graphs to keep track of how much I’m really ingesting each day. Sticking to this one will be tough.

Of course it will be. It’s probably the most beneficial spread in my entire journal.


With the pending move, the list of things that we need is growing ever longer which means all the goodies that I want will have to wait. But my compulsive brain occasionally gets fixated on things and complains that if I don’t get it right now I’ll never get it. So this will be a place to list all of that “wouldn’t it be nice” stuff. Hopefully this will help me stick with that 52 week challenge as well.

My January month-in-review. I’ve started using an “If, Then” motivation system. I look at the previous month’s habit tracker and anything that I’m routinely skipping (like, reading and writing), I’ll offer myself a reward as motivation to do more of that thing in the coming month.


And here’s my habit tracker. I used to do this in a landscape layout but I got tired of turning the notebook all the time.


If you’re curious, here’s a list of the supplies that I use. Links are all via my Amazon affiliate account, but you can of course get most of these things anywhere. I actually got my notebook from Goulet Pens. Their prices were better and they have a much better color selection. And really all you need for a bullet journal is a notebook and something to write with; these are just the things that I use.

Leuchtturm 1917

Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens

Koh-I-Noor woodless colored pencils

Stainless steel ruler

Thanks for reading, and I wish you all the best in the coming new year!

My Bullet Journal

Procrastination is a weakness of mine. If something needs done, but I don’t want to do it (for instance, vacuuming), I will put it off until the last possible minute…which is usually when company is coming. But I also love to make To Do lists. To Do lists are like porn for procrastinators like myself who have an unhealthy obsession with notebooks and pens. To Do lists are the promise of getting things done, being caught up, not having anything hanging over your head. Getting things done feels great, and so it follows that making plans is fun.

Like the man says in Tremors, “We plan ahead. That way, we don’t do anything right now.”

A few months ago on Kit Dunsmore’s blog, she mentioned bullet journals. Intrigued, I went to and read all about it. The various symbols and bare-bones method looked way too complicated to me. I’m not interested in complicated systems.

Then in August on the Smart Bitches Trashy Books blog, they listed more details about how the bullet journal is actually used and so I did some more research…and quickly became obsessed.

Basically, a bullet journal is a personalized planner. You start with a blank notebook and a pen, then fill the notebook with whatever type of calendar is useful to you and load it with events, tasks, and notes. You can set up collections, which are basically lists of projects or reminders, etc. You can journal in it, doodle, budget…you know, whatever you want. That’s the personalized part.

I watched a few You Tube videos, then grabbed a blank notebook from the pile and started my first bullet journal.harry-potter-journal

I got this lined Harry Potter journal on a whim at Barnes & Noble. You can also find it on Amazon here.

I used it for a few weeks, mostly trying to figure out how I wanted it to look. I would flip to random pages and set up spreads and collections. I tried different types of trackers and handwriting.old-bujo

I tried not to worry about my shaky handwriting. And I tried to ignore the lines and unnumbered pages.knitting-spread

And then I found Boho Berry on You Tube, and followed it to her blog. She’s very much an artist with exquisite handwriting, and although I am neither of those things, I realized that if I was going to use my bullet journal consistently, I needed to make it interesting to myself.

So I drank the Kool-Aid and got a new, fancy, dot grid, Leuchtturm notebook:leuchtturm

I ordered mine from Goulet Pens. They have an amazing variety of styles and colors, reasonable prices, and fast shipping. Of course you can get them from Amazon, too.

Then I loaded up on fancy supplies. I halfway wonder if I’m not just using the bullet journal as an excuse to feed my notebook and pen habit…supplies

After a month of trying different styles and layouts, messing with my handwriting and doodles, I feel pretty good about my bullet journal. The best part is that I actually want to use it. The fact that it’s mine and I’m allowed to spend time making it pretty helps.


One of the first things I did was a pen test to see how everything looked and how badly they bled through to the back of the page. This told me that I shouldn’t use my beloved fountain pen or the Flair felt tip pen. Sharpie pens and the Faber Castell artist’s pens are my favorites. They barely bleed through even when you color things in, and they’re still nice and black.


A calendex to show you at a quick glance what’s coming up in the next few months. Great for keeping track of tasks that happen every few months.


My layout for the month of October. People with children and friends will want to give themselves more room than this to put events and appointments. Fortunately my October is easy-breezy so far.


Dailies are the bread and butter of the bullet journal. The night before, I set up the following day. I’ll put the sunrise/sunset times, the weather, a list of tasks I need to accomplish and any appointments. And then on the day I can add tasks, notes, track what I’m eating and drinking, and because I want to I use a daily sketch prompt app so I can add a drawing to each day.

To keep track of recurring tasks, I use this:monthly-tasks

Each drawing represents something I should do at least once a month. Balance the checkbook? I get to draw another doughnut. Clean the bathrooms? Spaceship gets another alien. When I’m making my daily task list, I’ll check this to see what needs done. And then I look at this:weekly-tasks

Each day has things that need done every week on that day. I imagine I’ll add things to these planets as time goes on.

And of course there are things that need to be done every single day. I don’t want to rewrite that list on each daily spread, and so I use this:accountability-tracker

A lot of people call this a habit tracker, but I think of habits as being bad. These are things that I want to get done every day, and so I call this my accountability tracker. This month I’ve added a touch of color to the rows and columns. If I do every single thing every single day, at the end of the month this should be a lovely black and orange plaid. That’s good motivation for me to do my exercises every single day.

You could also think of the bullet journal as your brain on paper. I’d rather write something down than try to remember it. That’s where collections come in. Here are a few of mine.


For those days when I’m feeling anxious or depressed or sick, I have this handy list of favorite, comforting movies. I get decision fatigue, and this way I can just randomly point at this list to choose a feel-better movie to watch.


And this is a list of all of the paper books still crowding the shelves. Once I read them, they’ll either be kept and cherished, or they’ll go to the Goodwill. And since we’re moving in a few months, the more I can cross off and potentially get rid of the better.

Other spreads I’m using include a blood pressure log, blog post ideas, task list for my long gestating novel, brain dump for the pending move, diet and exercise logs, costume ideas, languages I want to learn, places I want to visit.  You get the idea.

Even though it took me awhile, I’m glad I finally got onto the bullet journal bandwagon. It’s list-making candy and I’m actually getting things done. Earl would be proud of me.