2018 Bullet Journal setup

3:05 PM

We aren't even at the mid-December mark and I am just about ready to embrace quiet and almost boring January.

This year seems to be on steroids when it comes to events, parties, festivals, holidays and other thing. This past week alone has been a big fat blur. There were too many dance practices, and birthdays happening all around us, and as I type this, I am running on caffeine and broken sleep (too keyed up to find sleep at night...that bad!)

Anyway, this post is about getting ready to embrace 2018 and planning it in style. I actually started setting up that planner in November. For two reasons :

1) January is already filling up with dates I need to remember

2) I just can't plan the setup of a bullet journal in December with so much mayhem. I mean this week I am even lucky I am keeping up with my weekly spread.

As some of you may remember, I did take the plunge into bullet journaling this year as I found out I do better with a more flexible type of planner than the conventional stationery store bought year planners.
I showed you how I set it up in January, and I showed you how it came along a few weeks (or months?) ago.

What I already mentioned was how limiting a ruled notebook was for me. I found myself gravitating more toward a journal filled with doodles, lists, tables and charts than I thought I would.
In the Bullet Journal community, people swear by the dotted grid notebook, and the two stars of the kind are the Moleskine and the Leuchturm.

Sadly both of them cost a fortune in India, as they are imported, and of the two the Moleskine is still the cheapest. I almost bought it, even though it has HIGHLY mixed reviews about the paper quality.

I say ALMOST because thankfully I found an Indian brand alternative and I decided to give it a try. The brand in question is "Mypaperclip" and I bought mine on Amazon (affiliate link).

At 795 rupees I would not call it cheap, but it is not exorbitant either for a notebook in which you plan to store memories and use an entire year.
The Moleskine dotted journal will currently set you at close to 900 rupees and it's more often than not available only at about 1000+ rupees. With all the mixed reviews concerning the paper, I won't judge if you feel lukewarm investing in one (been there).

So how is the paper quality in the Mypaperclip notebook?

After trying it, I'll have to say great! The paper is smooth, the dots are clear but not overpowering and  the paper holds its own when I use my gel pens and fine liners on it.
It doesn't bleed through or really show on the other side of the page unless I really look very closely. Unlike the pictures of Moleskine notebooks where I saw inks ghosting through.

At this point I think the best is to show you how I set my 2018 Journal up so you can see what I mean.

I started my planner by pasting a "word of the year" to inspire me in the year to come. This is a practice I have seen done in many creative and blogging communities for years, I never put much thought into it until recently.
I am currently reading an inspirational book called "She means business" by Carrie Green as I plan to grow as a freelance artist and am all for picking up the brain of creative women entrepreneurs.
Anyway, the point is that not only does she practice the law of attraction which I am already familiar with, she also stresses the necessity to positively reinforce your goals and dreams with powerful quotes and words, including a word of the year.

My word for 2018 : Rise

Rise to the challenge, rise as an artist, rise myself above who I was... you know, RISE!

Right after that bit of inspiration, I added a year at glance calendar on the next two pages. This is something that has been missing from the 2017 journal, and found I needed.
Setting up that kind of calendar page is far easier on a dotted grid than it is in a ruled notebook as you can see

As you can see there is no bleeding through from the next page, if you look carefully you will notice there is something written on the back of that page, but that is true with any writing grade paper, it's due to the semi-transparency of paper and not to the ink ghosting through like it can be the case with cheap more light weight paper.

Like this year, I have 4 pages of "year planning" where I can jot down events long in advance. I didn't take pictures of that, mostly because I just don't really want all my dates and events out there publicly, and because really I just replicated the layout I currently use this year.

What I added this year though is a reading log. I decided I would keep my journals because they are filled with doodles, and I might as well keep a record of all the books I read in a year. You know just for the fun of it.
I got that bookshelf design idea from spending hours on Pinterest looking at how others who've been journaling for years set theirs up.
Each time I finish a book, I'll write it on the spine of one of these books and color it. The goal is to fill and color as many as possible in the course of the year.

On the next double page, I did a movie log, which will go by the same principle as the book log : each time I watch a never watched before movie, either on TV or in Theatre it'll go on one of those little movie tickets.

The next new thing is the Monthly gratitude log. I normally keep a gratitude diary, and I do sometimes write down one thing I am super grateful about in my bullet journal, but it's all over the place. This year I want to have one extra special thing a day that I am grateful for written on one page, so that at the end of the year I can really just leaf through each month gratitude log and see all 365 grateful moments without reading through 192 pages but just 12 of them.

By the way, being full of gratitude is one of core ideas if you believe in the Law of attraction (which I do). So a gratitude log is super important to me, the bonus being that it acts as a "title page" for the month to come.

This leads us to the Monthly spread. This is a month at one glance page where I can add stuff as the month goes.
The advantage of the dotted grid here is that I can make it look like a more conventional calendar page and still have space left for things I want to track on the side.

The things I want to track each months are my previous months blog stats, number of Instagram follower at the start of the month, and how much I earned and where.

I also decided to do away with the Goal page of this year's journal and put a goal on the monthly spread each month. The system I have in my journal this year is not efficient at all.

This new layout also let me doodle something I feel illustrate the month. As you can see I do stick to my synesthetic view of the month with a light blue and gold palette.

Right after the month at glance spread, I set up a "Random page" and a habit tracker. I saw many trackers in other bullet journals and I knew I wanted one. I actually have been doing it those past few weeks in this year's planner, but on a weekly basis and not for all the things I want to track since I have a space constraint.
Having all the habits and the whole month on one page again made sense. Notice there is also a mood tracker with color keys. That one is just for my personal fun, I am curious to see how a month of mood looks on paper. With PMS striking the way it does for me, I suspect there will be a few days of "pink" somewhere in the month (not even joking).

The "Totally Random" page is all about random things, it could be a quote I like, a doodle, a sticker, a few notes. The goal will be to fill the page with random odds and bits every months and see what emerge from it.

After a lot of trials and errors and experiment in this year's journal, I came to like this weekly spread best.
Cash expenses, meal planning and generic to-do list on the left, and a daily more specific log on the right. There might or might not be extra doodles going there. But the point is my week is all spread on a double page and that is way easier for me to not loose track of time.

Bullet Journal enthusiasts will all tell you that the Moleskine or Leuchturm are the notebooks of choice because of the pocket they have on the back page, which is called "folio".

That pocket is very useful to store business cards, important tiny papers, pictures and the like, but I don't think a notebook that doesn't come with one should be ruled out. I simply paste a colorful envelope on the back cover and I am done. It came in handy this year, I am sure it will next year.

Last but not least, I usually write down notes and lists I forgot to include in the spreads in the last few pages working backward. I have no pictures of that to share, in the 2018 journal because I haven't written anything of the sort yet, and in this year's journal because it is fairly personal and some stuff are better kept private.

But know that it's always an option to use pages backward in your journal to add bits you never thought would come as you go.

With my bullet journal 2018 ready to go, I can't wait to get it filled already. I don't know about you guys, but I always feel giddy and excited when I get a new planner and start wondering how the pages will get filled.
This is another reason why I shifted to a bullet journal format, it's less formal, and it acts as a personal year book filled with memories you might want to read through again down the years. Kind of a yearly time capsule of sort. 

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  1. That's quite an elaborate post, Cyn.
    I have tried keeping a planner, diary etc., but with not so much of success. They have tended to be quite erratic. The big irony is forgetting to check the reminder or checklist.
    Now I have moved partly online. Of course, it doesn't matter if it is online or offline; what finally counts is the personal commitment.
    Also, there is nothing to beat the tangible aspect of an offline journal, and the enormous amount of satisfaction it provides.

    1. I tried both Google Calendar and Apple Calendar in the past, and it wasn't tangible enough, worse the beeping reminders always distracted me and annoyed me to the point of me not caring about what I had planned.
      I'm really old school with planners, and having to write it down with a pen on paper has the effect I remember things better.

      My bullet journal ritual is usually to end my day by writing what I have to do the next day, then it sits by my desk the whole day long for me to check if I am on track with things. I like having this closure moment at the end of the day, ticking one day off and already planning the next.

  2. Becca1:41 PM

    Just starting a bullet journal for the first time, thanks for the tips!

    1. You are welcome :-)
      I hope you enjoy keeping a bullet journal, I found it quite addictive over the months.

  3. Oh what a great post, Cynthia. I am starting a bullet journal for the first time and it's lovely to see how others are doing it. I had been wondering about the notebooks people use, so thanks for clearing that up. Also, I am learning so much about what's available in India through your posts, even though I have lived here all my life. Lol. Keep those tips coming. :D

    1. You are welcome! I hope you’ll enjoy keeping a bullet journal as much as I do. Seriously the first though I had waking up this morning was “yay it’s 2018 I can start my new journal”

      Happy New Year!


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