December signifies two things in my book: bullet journal migration time and a good hot chocolate.
I have been a devoted bullet journal user for several years now. I am a ‘notebook person’ through and through, and always find myself functioning better with lists made, notes in one place and a paper schedule in place. My 2022 bullet journal served me really well, seeing me transition from contract to contract, closing my freelance business and moving to a full-time role again. It also helped me stay on track with personal plans and goals, good habits and generally offloading surplus clutter from my brain once I quietly paused therapy.
With that in mind, I knew that my 2023 bullet journal would necessitate at least a few changes. The flexibility of a bullet journal was perfect for my ever-changing, never-in-stone schedule, but it’s been equally great for juggling a corporate job, everyday life, managing stress and anxiety, and beyond.
How I Plan to Use My 2023 Bullet Journal
My bullet journal comes everywhere with me.
Throughout 2023, I plan to use mine to stay on top of work, life and my hobbies, as always. This time, I’ll be replacing my client and invoice trackers with work-related things – perhaps additional training I plan to enrol in and steps I can take to further myself in my role. I love using it to keep on top of spending commitments (so I can plan ahead for expensive months), as well as tracking hobbies and documenting gratitude. In 2023, I’d like to add in more self-care and ‘chores’ elements, as I find myself more scatter-brained when ‘booked and busy’. I’m also returning to my listing ways: I want to capture fun lists of favourites or moments or snippets from my days, as well as make grand plans for the future.
Not everybody loves bullet journalling, but the simple concept and premise of a bujo means it can work for just about anyone. YOU write the rules and draw the spreads. It’s important to remember that, I think.
I chose a Notebook Therapy bullet journal for 2023. I felt like it was time for a change – and I miss using lay-flat notebooks – so I opted for Notebook Therapy’s Tsuki Stardust Dawn, a really beautiful rose gold-foiled, moondust beige linen cover design. I love the thick pages, elastic band and double ribbon detail, not to mention their journals always come with an adorable complimentary paperclip. As I’m a huge writer and plan to keep up with at least some long-form writing, I chose the A5 option which has 176 pages. I’m so excited to fill this one up with my thoughts and plans for the year.
Since hopping on the Cricut bandwagon, I love creating my title pages with vinyl. For 2023, I’m keeping it almost as simple as years before and adding my signature tagline: ‘Seek everyday magic’. I swear by stickers from Moehrenkunst – their stickers are hand-drawn and filled in the most lovely pastel shades and make decorating my bujo SO simple.
Key and Index
While many people skip the key and index of a bujo, I’m a stickler for routine. I’ve added these to my bullet journal since the beginning and find them both useful. Well, the key not so much… The index is a running contents page that you build as your bullet journal grows. I’ve always used mine fairly simply, but Megan recently inspired me with her threading method. Here, you add the page numbers at the end of the line, threading recurring themes together. I write long-form journal entries regularly every week, so I think it’ll be really interesting to see which themes crop up the most often. At its heart, the index is a manual search tool.
I use my Future Log almost every day. Essentially, this is the master events page. If I schedule something in, then it goes here first and foremost. Because I set my journal up week by week, I can’t easily access a June page to note down an upcoming concert or a friend’s birthday plans, but I can jot it down here, where I have all the months at a glance.
In previous years, I split this into six months per journal, as that’s how long a notebook will typically last me. But now that adulthood means you schedule occasions in months and months in advance, I’m moving back to the full 12 months in this journal. I like to add a coloured dot on dates with plans too – a visual way to check how busy I am in a month.
Collections and Trackers
Reverse Bucket List: My outlook has improved so much since starting a reverse bucket list. I wrote plenty about this a few months ago, but the concept is simple: note down your achievements and you can reflect on all the good things in weeks and months to come.
Career Goals: Here, I divide up my career plan in four sections. I chose ‘Future-proof’, ‘Focus’, ‘Develop’ and ‘Goals’, where I’ll note down tasks to help me in each area. For instance, I can future-proof my career by updating my CV and LinkedIn and continuing to nurture professional relationships, and develop my career by enrolling in essential courses and additional webinars. Since we just had our annual appraisals at work, I’m feeling very motivated by all of the things I hope to achieve.
2023 Books: I track my reading everywhere, but it’s always nice to have a paper record too. I really love drawing bookcases and filling them up with my books from the year. In 2023, I’m aiming for 52 books again – one book per week!
Spending Planner: Easily one of the most helpful pages for me, I implemented a Spending Planner ages ago. I don’t use this in the most strict manner, but it’s really helpful in terms of plotting out purchases and expenses. I’ll map out each month, then note down things I must spend money on. Valentine’s Day, birthdays, annual council tax payments, game releases, trips, skincare and vitamin replenishments… Anything that goes beyond monthly bills and subscriptions. They all go in, so I can see which months I should really be more careful in.
Things to Research Online: I used to have one of these pages in my first-ever bullet journal, but it quickly went unused. These days, however, I find myself constantly making these notes! I’m a perennially curious person: I’m the person that pauses TV shows to research minute details and ends up fully clued-up on it after a few hours. This page will home all of those snippets and, hopefully, become an interesting list to look back on this time last year. I love seeing how my interests develop!
Gift Ideas: Something I love about gifting seasons is being able to surprise loved ones with a thoughtful present (if they want one). Often I prefer to take them out for a meal, day out or experience, but when a physical gift is warranted, I have a rolling list of gift ideas that I add to year-round. Sometimes a friend will mention their favourite scent or that vase they liked – I’ll add it to my list for future reference when their birthday crops up.
Seasonal Wardrobe Lists: I take seasonal dressing very seriously. The weather in England necessitates all kinds of specific clothing and I’m here for it. Each season, I’ll make a list of what I’m missing – if anything – from my wardrobe, and use it as a checklist while secondhand shopping.
Another regular setup for me is my monthly dashboard. Years of academia and standard planners mean that these are a little ingrained in my soul: I love a month-to-view. I used to couple this with a habits tracker per month, and a place to capture little joys from my month, and was in the habit of referring to it daily.
This year, I’ll use mine to map out important dates and events, log monthly outgoings and add my monthly to-do list. Using my Future Log as a base, I transfer tasks and events here at the start of the month so I can stay on track.
How I Set Up My Weekly Spread
Like I mentioned earlier, I set my journal up weekly. This is the only time I’m really ‘creative’ with my bullet journal: I sketch out a different weekly spread every Sunday evening. And, even then, it’s kept simple, as I don’t have much spare time on my hands to wheel out the calligraphy pens and watercolours. This way, I have a bonus creative outlet and have a pretty bujo, but don’t let it take much time.
Using both my Future Log and Monthly Dashboard, I input tasks and events each week. On Sunday evenings, I love nothing more than taking 10-15 minutes to roll out these tasks so I’m prepared for the week ahead. Plugging in workouts, work hours and locations (hello hybrid working!), plans with friends, date nights and all-important evenings for myself means I have a great visual of spare time and prep time for future events.
Supplies I Use
- Notebook Therapy notebook
- MUJI 0.38 Fineliner
- Moehrenkunst stickers
- Cricut Maker 3 (to make my vinyl stickers)
I’m so happy with how my 2023 bullet journal is set up and I’m really excited to see how it supports my goals for the year. If the previous years are anything to go by, it’ll be great! Over the years, I’ve experimented with minimal setups and more elaborate ones. Well, this might be one of the most elaborate ones I’ve tried yet, and I’m very excited to organise, document and evolve with my bullet journal this year.
How are you hoping to stay organised in 2023? Share your bullet journal posts with our community in the comments below.