Using Your Bullet Journal in the New Year
Nothing gets me more excited than making a new spread for my bullet journal. I love the idea of a new year, and when January rolls around I always start with a new book, fresh page and endless possibilities. I’ve created the following simple bullet journal spread ideas to help you get super organized and ensure that your 2019 starts with the best intentions too. Whether you are a total newbie or have dabbled with a bujo already, you are sure to find some designs that will fit your lifestyle and vision.
Created by digital product designer Ryder Carroll, Bullet Journals have taken the world by storm over the last few years. For many, the ability to create and customize a personal planner is enormously appealing, particularly for those who have busy and complicated lives and enjoy list making, being creative and finding solace in the art of doodling or designing ideas. The beauty of using a bullet journal is that they can be as simple or as detailed as you like, and there are endless amounts of incredible creators across Instagram and YouTube who share tutorials on how to make your bullet journal work for you. For more information on using a Bullet Journal and making them work for you, click here
Simple January Bullet Journal Spread Ideas
Our Theme for January: Snowflakes
The snowflake theme was inspired by the insanely talented Amanda Rachel Lee, who has gained over a million followers in recent years across her YouTube and social media channels. Check out her YouTube channel here.
I like the snowflake theme because they are simple, quick and easy to draw. Created by drawing symmetrical patterns, they look absolutely beautiful, and combined with a pastel colour can make any simple bullet journal spread ideas really stand out. There are endless patterns to be made and you don’t have to be a competent artist to create a lovely design, and are suitable not just for January, but for many of the colder months of the year, depending on the hemisphere that you live in.
Tip: Practice doodling some ideas in pencil before you start, and place different sizes and shapes across the pages to get a basic outline of what your spread will look like.
Title Page and Inspirational Quotation
A title page and quotation, while not being totally necessary, is a visually pleasing way to start and separate each month, and I had lots of fun creating different design ideas to match our chosen theme. For this January title page, I have created a simple design using different snowflake patterns and a light blue color to accent the shapes.
Inspirational quotes are incredibly motivational when developing our goals and plans for a new year. Next to it, we included one of our favourite quotes from Rainer Maria Rilke – And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been. Looking for inspirational quotes for your simple Bullet Journal spread ideas? Here’s a whole list of them that may help to inspire you.
Tip: For easy access, you may wish to put some Washi tape along the edge of the page to make it stand out – this will allow you to see where the start of each month is. Mimicking the style of masking tape, washi tape is the stuff of crafters dreams and they can be used in bullet journals and scrapbooks for decorating, using around images and as dividers and borders. They are available in craft stores and online and can be purchased individually or in packs. They are available in lots of different sizes, colours and patterns, and can add just that little bit extra to any simple bullet journal spread idea.
Extra Tip: You don’t have to be competent in calligraphy to create a beautiful quote page – simple capital letters can look really effective. If you don’t feel confident enough to design your own quote, find a stock image quote on your computer and print it off.
A Note on Fonts
To make your simple bullet journal spread ideas a little more aesthetic, you may wish to write certain things in different fonts, or adopt the same font for a particular month to match your chosen theme. If haven’t thoroughly mastered the art of many of these (particularly calligraphy) yet, then block capitals or bubble lettering is super effective. I like to change my font style from month-to-month simply to make it more interesting for myself in the planning process but it isn’t necessary. There are lots of font tutorials available on YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.
Monthly Overview and Habit Tracker
For our Monthly Overview, I have put the entire month in a linear view, with a small section for goals for January. This enables me to see at a glance the important events I have in the immediate future and allow for advanced planning. It’s important to note here that I don’t use this simple bullet journal spread idea for daily tasks, chores or individual jobs that I need to complete – this is treated in the form of a calendar instead. For example, on this page, I will include birthdays, nights out with family and friends and any specific appointments or events that I will be attending.
Down the left side of the page I have written the dates of the month with the coinciding day of the week, and I have used a single line for each day. In a standard A5 dotted bullet journal there are more than enough spaces to be able to do this easily.
Tip: If you have a large number of goals for the month, you may wish to devote an entire page to goal setting instead of including it in a small section of your monthly plan. It is important to remember, however, not to overwhelm yourself by setting too much – keep your goals achievable and realistic. You may want to list your goals, or spend some time drawing them out into boxes with time frames.
A Habit Tracker is the perfect tool to use at the start of a new year, particularly when setting resolutions and making improvements for a better you over the coming months. They can be adapted to any topics and goals that you wish to focus on.
- Health and fitness. Do you want to lose weight, drink more water or improve your overall fitness levels.
- Self-care. Looking after yourself emotionally, spiritually and mentally is just as important as your physical well-being. Do you want to focus on breating exercises, or meditation first thing in the mornings? What about adopting self-care practices like Hygge or Lagom? Daily affirmations and confidence building exercises?
- Writing or blogging frequency. I have found it incredibly useful to keep track of how often I blog, and many of my writer friends keep notes of their daily word counts when developing their new novels. This sort of tracker is particularly helpful when deadlines are approaching and during months like National November Writing Month, when the goal is to write 50,000 words over thirty days.
- Money and finances. What do you spend your money on? Do you need to save money, create a budget or take better charge of your overall financial situation?
- Cleaning and decluttering. Particularly for those of us with families, it can be difficult to keep track of everything that needs to be done in a busy household. What needs to be cleaned every week, or once a month? Are you drowming in clutter? What items do you need to throw away or donate to charity? Are there any items you can sell?
- Relationships and friendships. Where would you like to go on a date night with your spouse? Have you got friends that you want to make more of an effort to get back in contact with?
My January habit tracker has been separated out in a simple bullet journal spread with potential goal ideas next to a calendar view for each. It’s a quick and easy way to track daily tasks without the need to repeatedly write out lists – the grids are completed by simply colouring in the number on the date that you have achieved a goal. At the end of the month it’s a really useful way to see where you have excelled, and where you may need to potentially make improvements over the next month, making adjustments to suit your individual needs.
Tip: A habit tracker does not need to be complicated and can be created quickly. Some take the form of a grid or graph, while others use doodles or symbols that simply need to be coloured in as each day in completed.
Daily Task List
To note down daily tasks, I have set out the month across a two-page spread, with spaces available for writing down daily lists. This simple bullet journal spread idea can be filled in each day, either by using a key, crossing off the tasks when they are done or colouring in the boxes. This is an easy spread to create – I worked out how many dots would be needed to created the boxes on each page, and left a space in the corner for any notes that I may need during the month. Again, this can be as simple or as complicated as you wish and the lettering and designs can be mapped out in pencil beforehand, or written in block capitals.
If you need more space, you can separate the pages out into weeks instead, allowing you to write down individual tasks with a notes section in the bottom corner. To create this spread, I worked out how many dots I would need in between each day and separated each page into four sections – Monday to Thursday on the first page and Friday to Sunday on the second with a space for notes at the bottom. I’ve included an example of the first week here – this allows for much more room to be able to write down daily tasks, crossing them off as you complete them. I’ve also seen vertical versions of this, with seven columns being used across two pages.
Tip: If you have a month that is particularly busy, you may wish to use the weekly layout, and use the monthly layout when things are a little quieter. Don’t be afraid to change it up to suit what you need – a great reason to use a bullet journal!
Other ideas for your January Bullet Journal Spreads
- Blog Post Ideas – I find it really useful to jot down any random ideas that I may have that I can refer to at a later date.
- Stats and Social Media Trackers – keep a note of your stats for each month and work out where you need to improve. I have found this really helps, particularly during times where I haven’t felt like I have made much progress – I have been able to look at my numbers for definitive proof of how much growth I have made.
- A space for including your favourite photographs during the month.
- Life Hack Ideas. Seen a great tip on social media? Write it down for future reference!
- Writing a book? Track your word count for the month.
- Spending and Savings Tracker
- Earnings Tracker
- Mood Tracker – keeping track of how you feel each day
- Self-care Ideas
- Holiday or Travel Planning – schedules, packing and travel tips, things you want to see and do
- Weight Loss
- Hobby ideas like gardening, sports and crafts
- Books you have read / want to read during the month
- Sleep journal – keep a note of your sleeping habits and how rested you feel in a morning
- Films to Watch and Release Dates
- Places to Visit
- Bucket List Ideas. I love the Bucket List concept, and have fun creating a list of all of the places I wish to visit and things that I would like to experience.
- Products to Review
- Pictures of your favourite inspiration people or your pets
- Song lyrics
- Stamp designs – you can buy stamps and ink from good craft stores
Ensuring Success with Your January Bullet Journal
Remember that a bullet journal essentially requires just two things: a notebook and a pen. It can be as simple or as complicated as you need it to be.
While it may feel like you are repeating yourself, try and use a monthly spread for events and appointments, and a daily spread for individual tasks. This way you can avoid confusion between the two.
Use it every single day, or as often as you can, even if it is to just write down and complete one thing in your daily list. The more you use it, the easier it will be, and the more useful it will become.
Don’t be afraid to change your plans if you suddenly have a better idea or find that your goals will take longer than you first anticipated.
Remember that there is no right or wrong way of using your Bullet Journal – as long as you make it work for you! However, if you are lacking in inspiration, use the #BulletJournal hashtag on instagram or check out some bullet journal videos on YouTube to give you some ideas. This was one of the most helpful resources that I found at the beginning of my bullet journal journey, and I found it incredibly motivating.
Remember, you don’t have to do all of this straight away – you could start with basic ideas and develop them as you go along!
Whether you’re a bullet journal novice or enthusiast, these simple bullet journal spread ideas will hopefully get you started on a fantastic new year!
Happy planning, and have a Happy New Year!