My Bullet Journal update

2:11 PM

As we are nearing the end of August and having completed 2/3 of the year, I figured out it was about time I let you all know how things are going on the bullet journal front.

For those of you who either just started following me, or just forgot, I took the plunge into bullet journalling in January. I even wrote a blog post about it to let you all in on how I set up my planner for the whole year, you can go refresh your memory there.

As I went, my journal evolved a little and I now have a better idea what my needs are and what I will dump next January.

As a refresher, this is how the daily section of the month of January looked like  when my journal was yet to be put to the test :

Back when I set that one up, I was still transitioning from years and years of using a regular planner, to something a bit more flexible. January had a rigid layout with columns and a grid.
But as I went, I started breaking the mould and at least embellish it :

This above is what it looked like half way through the first month. I needed to insert a specific to-do list and so I did. For the reccord, there are a lot of doodles and illustrations through the whole journal.

In February, I felt the need to drop the grid and rigidity and add more colors :

The cash expenses notes are looking like pinned notes and instead of dividing each days with a solid line I started exploring different styles. Each month has different styles and colors so I can tell them apart quickly.

The monthly spread also got a massive update. This is what it looked like for January :

That layout was way too minimalistic, I ended up adding the days of the week too it because I was getting constantly confused as I planned my month.

From the month of February onward this is how the Month at a glance page looked like :

Not only do I grid everything, I color the date AND include the day of the week. This simple trick has helped me TONS. It makes it much easier to find what I need to read or add to the planner.

I spend a little time setting that page up by the time the last week of the previous month rolls around and I know how many more page I need to plan things to end the month before inserting this spread. That little work is really really worth it in the end.

This page above is this current week and right now I am again feeling the need for a big change.
First, I am more and more in favour of not creating entries for days I have no to-do lists or expenses to log. As you can see, Sunday is missing in the picture, I was busy on that day, attending a social event, but it was already logged in my "Month at glance" page, I didn't need to enter it again, especially since this was a day long event and had nothing else to do and remember.

I also started doing less illustrations because I hate ruled paper and already spend a lot of my day doodling on quality paper. So instead I started entering one thing I was grateful for the day.
I already keep a gratitude diary on the side, but I enjoy closing my day by coloring the expenses box and putting one thing I am grateful for underneath before moving on to the next day. It's a closure ritual of sort.

At the end of my planner, I glued a pretty envelope to store all the odds and ends I want to keep. It contains important bills, pictures and business cards I do not want to loose.

The last few pages of the journal contain my important contact infos, my earnings reports and this :

These are my "practice pages" where I practice headers and stamp technique for the journal, and where I test pens to see if the ink would ghost through.

Things I want to change or keep for the next journal

The number one thing I am going to change in the next year's journal is that I will move away from lined paper. 
It's too rigid and has gotten in the way of illustrations. Most bullet journalists will tell you that the best paper to journal on is the "dotted grid" paper. That kind of notebook is sadly still a rarity in India.
So, there is a solid chance I will bite the bullet and invest in a Moleskine notebook to plan 2018 (affiliate link alert by the way). 
The notebook I am using this year is the "Look what happened" Donut diary. The paper quality is awesome, the binding so far has held its own and I have nothing against it other than the fact I really really wished they would tap into the dotted grid paper. 

As far as planning things go, I will keep the month at glance and that type of yearly spread : 

I will change the daily spread and only really enter days I have to-do lists to log and/or expenses and I will definitely go for a more artsy way of going about it, I got cured of my need for columns. Besides on days I have nothing to log I could end up saving space and pages for other things in the journal. 

I will do away with that page : 

Well not entirely, but it sure won't be a whole section. I can write my goals on top of the Month at glance page and see them more often (confession I do not consult the goal page at all...epic fail).

I will keep the blog stats section though, that one I find useful to have in one place to compare how my blog is doing months after months. 

I already am in the process of implementing a financial page at the end of each month, where I list the   total amount I need to pay to the ironing guy, and how much each of my income streams are earning me (and which months it is expected to end up in my account).  

All in all, I love my bullet journal as it is a far more flexible system to plan my year/month and days than the conventional planner was. I also really enjoy my little ritual of closing the day and starting planning the next before bedtime. Then I can go to bed with a far more relaxed mind and it has reduced the amount of tossing and turning I usually do because of unsettled scores with the day to come. 

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  1. Anonymous6:14 PM

    Fantastically creative and colourful!! I specially like the way you record even small expenses. Expenses we incur and don't remember.


    1. We are pretty cashless people, and we log our expenses in a software once a week or so. The credit card expenses are easy to track, it's the small cash ones that we need to remember whenever the time to add them to the software comes.
      At this tracking game I am better than hubby though, as I made it a habit to log cash expenses.

      It's an habit that started in childhood though, when I was 12 my parents increased my allowance and instead of giving to me weekly, gave it to me monthly. There were two conditions that came with the hike :

      1) I was responsible for buying all non essential stuff I wanted for myself with that money. That include figuring out how to save and buy those ridiculously costly branded fashion items that all the other kids had.

      2) I would keep getting that allowance ONLY if I kept an account book logging in my expenses and any extra earnings done during the month (grand parents giving money, birthd day money....)
      By the end of the month I had to tally everything and report how much I spent, how much money came in, and the amount left between to these two was my monthly saving which I would carry over to the next month.

      This little system has made me quite financially sound over the years.

    2. Anonymous7:43 PM

      Happy ganesh chaturthi to you and family. May lord ganesha bless u with auspiciousness and creativity.

      We usually note our expenses in a diary and prepare envelopes for different expenses. I had a credit card which I used for my marriage when I was short of money but never had one ever. I don't find the credit card companies very upfront and transparent in their dealings.

      A good effect of demonetisation was that we started using our debit cards more often.


  2. Anonymous10:02 PM

    Very interesting article. I tried keeping an art journal last year and I printed the pages from internet but stopped after a few months. Then I bought a Moleskine diary and I found the paper was way too thin... You make me want to start a new one. -Pad

    1. How thin is the paper? I keep reading different experience from it. In India that is so far the only brand that is affordable-ish for dotted grid paper. Most notebooks are either blank or ruled, even finding a good quality checked paper is a stretch.

      The notebook I am using right now has some good quality paper compared to a lot of what's out there on the domestic market. Once you have written on a page you will notice that something is there if you turn to the next page, but not to the point of the ink showing all the way through.

      I can live with that kind of paper thickness.

  3. Cynthia, hello !
    came to blog after a long time today and saw this beautiful journal.
    have you any on your website ?

    I am missing journals. used to do it regularly.

    love your posts !! you are awesome...and beautiful picture :)

    1. Thank you Smita:-)

      I have kept a journal of one kind or another since my teenage years. It helps me clear my mind. These days I only really keep up with my bullet journal and my gratitude diary.

      I also keep a sketch book on the side. I'll have to blog about it one of these days.

  4. I bought one of your products off Cupick.
    The Good Witch diary :)
    I am watching The Good Witch series and I loved the diary illustration.

    Waiting eagerly for it.


    1. Thank you :-)

      The paper in those Cupick notebook is awesome, I use my pocket size one as a mini sketchbook.

  5. I just love how you make organized living so sweet and cute and efficient !
    I plan on dong your planner for work and one for home.
    It would be awesome.

    Your sketchbook will be really interesting.

    1. I am a highly visual person, so for me a colorful planner makes it way easier to navigate and remember :-)
      I also like just sitting down and taking the extra time to make it pretty because on a subconscious level it means that even if I might have a tons of house chores on one day, it's still as important as any other meetings, event, or blog related tasks.


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