Going into 2024 with a Bullet Journal

Going into 2024 with a Bullet Journal

I have a long(ish) history with bullet journals with more or less success. I had one through 2019-2020, then I took a break in 2021 when it didn’t seem like I needed one, working from home at the time and barely getting out, plus I had a lot of handy spreadsheets for everything. I also quit my job halfway through the year, but I couldn’t know that yet when the year kicked in. When I returned to work in 2022, I thought it was time for another bullet journal as this post would prove. I’m sad to say that one only lasted for 3 months. In hindsight, I wasn’t even near getting out of burnout, putting effort into a bullet journal was a bit more than I could handle at the time. I didn’t even attempt to have one in 2023 as I knew that I wasn’t ready.

Toward the end of 2023 though, my need for one started to rekindle. Not least because I realized that I did need a piece of paper in front of my face to know what’s going on each month – which resulted in me putting one said paper on face level at work. That worked, but I wanted more, and I wanted it to be a touch more private. I spent most of November and December planning and testing and figuring out what would be the best and despite all that work, I’m still very much keen on keeping on. I’m happy with how things turned out. And so, once again, I’m going into 2024 with a bullet journal!

General Setup

Bullet journals fascinate me because there are so many ways you can use one. Sure, it needs a lot of work to set it up, but on the other side, you can get a journal which is entire unique and tailored to your needs. You don’t even have to keep the same outline all year through, you can change it, evolve it for each month if that’s what you want. I generally stick to one setup and don’t change things much. I like consistency, and my journal to look all neat and pretty.

When I decided to jump back into bullet journaling, I wanted to keep it as simple as possible to ease my way back into it and not overwhelm myself. If it takes longer to set up things each month than actually using it, is it really worth it? And since I bought a notebook which was a bit more expensive than I would normally pay for something like this, it gives me extra motivation not to waste it. To make the most of it, I decided to fit 2 years into it. It’s 176 pages, so it’s entirely doable with some smart tricks and keeping it as simple as possible. But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t keep adding things and squeezing every little space into use ???? But we’ll get back to that in a bit.

First, let me show off this absolute beauty:

Panda dotted notebook

It has 2024 written on the front but it’s not that visible, so it’ll do for 2025 as well. It has good quality paper so I could use marker pens without bleeding through much (where it did it was my fault), and the pages are equally lined so I can always make sure things are aligned nicely. I had a problem with this with my previous dotted notebook where on one page the lines weren’t aligned with the one on the other side… The only issue I had with this one was that it had no inner pocket for papers, but that was easy to solve. I looked up some DIY videos and glued one inside. Problem solved! I’m absolutely in love with it despite the red color scheme, and I’m more than happy to use it for 2 years.

Next, let’s look at how I outlined things! I can only show you my general pages in the front and my January set up, but that should give you a good idea how all the others will pan out for the rest of the year. As usual, I tend to have a mix of English and Hungarian, though by this point I mostly use English even in everyday stuff.

Pages 2-3: Calendar

One thing that never changed with my bullet journals is that I start off with a calendar where I can see everything at a glance. I also always use different colors for each month, except for the general pages which are usually black. It’s the same this year too. I also tend to have a different type of lettering each year and honestly, it’s usually the most fun part of any bullet journal planning. I love playing around with letter styles!

Anyway. The calendar. As you can see it’s a two-page spread. This year I added an extra bit of fancy to the frames, just because, lol. I have color codes for different things – birthdays, holidays, events, and traveling.

Pages 1-2: Calendar 2024

Pages 4-5: Positivity

Another two-page spread. I haven’t quite decided how I’m going to go with this – if I’ll add memorable things each month or add them as I go, and if I do if they’ll be pictures, text, stickers, or what. I guess I’ll figure this one out as I go. So there is nothing much to see here yet. The general idea is to put things here that make me smile, and have good vibes. I guess I could just put panda stickers all over the place and be done with it, lol. I was thinking about only using it for January-June to give myself space and then have another set of pages like this further down the line, but I’m not sure yet if I’ll have enough room as I want to have a two-page spread for summer plans – specifically dedicated to my Glasgow trip. But we’ll see.

Pages 3-4: Positivity

Pages 6-7: Goals and Level 10 Life

Another constant with my bullet journals is having a page dedicated to goals. I’ll fill this out sometime this week, as I wanted to keep it private – and also because I haven’t got around to organizing my thoughts yet. It usually has sections for general life stuff and blog stuff.

The Level 10 Life spread I found when I prepared my 2022 journal. I had a two-page spread then, but as I said, I needed to maximize the use of the space I have, so I made the graph much smaller. Each section will get a number I’ll color in – again, will do it later this week for the reasons I said above – and some notes on what I’d like to improve. Kind of like a very specified goals page. Each section will have its color and I’ll color in as many levels as I think fit. So for example: I feel like my creativity is at level 10, so I’ll color in all the levels. It’ll be interesting to compare it to the one I did in 2022 and the one I’ll do in 2025 to see how things changed. This year my sections are: health, fun/recreation, environment, work, finances, mental health, family/friends and creativity.

Pages 5-6: Goals and Level 10 Life

Pages 8-9: Mental Map and The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge

Back in 2020 I had a similar page to what I now call the Mental Map, but I got bored with coloring sometime around August, I think. I wanted to give it another go, because these days I pay much more attention to my mental state, so I’d like to keep track. Also because of a monthly spread, I’ll talk about in a bit. In most bullet journals these kinds of pages are for mood tracking, but I figured that for me tracking mental health state in general works better. I could have a bad mood but still feel like mentally I’m okay. And can have good things happen that would mean a good mood when in fact I’m spiralling down. I’ve been using this mindset in the past 2 months for tracking and it seems to be working for me. I also think that looking at this tracker with this mindset helps to keep me grounded. So for this tracker, I have: good, okay, meh, down, bad. I also decided that I’m going to reward myself for the good days. At the start of each month, I’ll look at how many good days I had, and I’ll save 300 HUF for each that I’ll put away for my upcoming Glasgow trip savings. 300 HUF is a bit less than 1 EUR/USD, so it’s not much, in the grand scheme of things. It’s just something of a boost for myself, but it’s not as much as it would make me cheat – which is not even the goal anyway.

I shouldn’t necessarily include a page dedicated to The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge as I probably could have used the space for something else, but I wanted to have it. Mostly because I think it’ll be useful to reference between this page, my other pages, and my bookish spreadsheet (I regularly use 3 spreadsheets: one for all my bookish things, one for tracking my finances which used to be part of my bullet journal and one for any given SPFBO we currently have going) I’m using to track my reading and other things. In my bullet journal, I add numbers to each prompt and then I can just use those numbers across my journal and spreadsheet and I’ll always see what’s up. Or take notes here. I don’t know, I find that it’s much more fun to play around with matching books and prompts if I do it with pen and paper ????????‍♀️

Pages 7-8: Mental Map and The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge

Pages 10-11: January and Brain Dump

And now we came to my monthly set-ups. This is where it gets really fun. In my previous journals I always had a monthly overlook of some sort, and then weekly spreads. It worked like a fancy calendar notebook. In the past half a year or so I’ve been using a monthly planner at work which was enough for me, so decided that it’ll do. Not least because after doing some calculations, I figured that I could have 6 pages/month if I wanted to use this notebook for 2 years. Now, 6 pages is not much. Even if you want to keep things nice and simple (which they never are). For a monthly planner, I definitely needed 2 pages to make it usable. That would have left me with 4 more pages, 3 of which I knew what I wanted to use for. Not much wriggling room. And then came the first strike of genius: I created with Photoshop a monthly planner which I can personalize for each month, print it, fold it in half, and glue it into my bullet journal. And BAM! I have a 2-page spread only using up one page! Upon testing this worked out pretty well, and I was pleased. Next, I started thinking about how I could use that blank page I was left with after folding it up. At the time I had absolutely no intention to have habit trackers included. I figured I could use it by sticking sticky notes on it for things that needed my immediate attention (I have super cute panda sticky notes!!), right in my face when I open my journal. But then I had a whole blank page for note-taking under Brain Dump, where I could also stick said sticky notes. So what?

My brain started poking me with the idea of having some sort of trackers. It started with creating a graph for sleeping hours and steps – and yes, I have an app for my smart watch but I really never look at it. I thought it would be nice to actually see patterns on paper and I could use only half the page to set it up, leaving the other half as a To Do space for the notes. Okay, but how? At that point, I had a blank piece of paper and I needed a dotted page for the graphs. I figured since I had to print out the monthly planner, I might as well print a dotted page on one side and the planner on the other. Second strike of genius!

I still didn’t intend to have any other tracker, but as I was sitting at my parents’ kitchen table over Christmas, working on outlining my journal, I decided that I would dedicate the whole thing to it. So now I have a tracker for chores and other things too… Just a short and simple one, BUT STILL. My brain went and betrayed me, the bastard. I’m curious how long I’ll keep up with these this time, lol.

The only thing I did not count on was the fact that I printed on very thin paper. This means when I started working on it with a marker, it bled through like crazy and now it’s ugly as hell. THANKFULLY, I didn’t glue it BEFORE coloring, so I can go and buy thicker paper and fix it. You get the ugly version as I can’t print at home, and wanted to have this post up now.

I have to say, I’m SUPER proud of that monthly spread. Originally, it only had long box for notes in the bottom, but as things evolved, and I didn’t use it that much (plus I have a whole page dedicated to notes anyway), I decided to include a section where I can have a quick glance at my month to see how I did – I guess this is how I ended up having a proper tracking section too ???? I want to keep an eye on my weight, although not daily, as well as my steps overall (especially now that I keep a daily tracker, lol), how many good days I had (see next section below), how many day-offs I have left (I never seem to be able to track that, so NOW), how many projects I finished (I’m thinking DIY stuff here), how many books I read, how many I DNFd (these will come in handy for the newsletter or end of year stuff), and how many books I got in that month (this one is just for curiousity, plus I needed one more thing, lol). I also included a panda in the corner (of course, duh), which I’ll personalize to reflect that given month. For January it got a Happy New Year banner, for February it’ll be something birthday-y for my birthday, for summer like a palm tree, you get the idea. Something simple and fun.

In the left bottom corner, there are boxes and lines. For my monthly planner, I also use color codes – green for general life stuff, blue pen for work stuff, purple for blog schedule, and black for new releases. Here is a bigger picture so you can see it all in its glory:

Monthly Planner

I’m absolutely in love with it. And the only thing I need to change (if I want to) is the panda image with some added fun, because this is pretty universal and can be used for any month.

Pages 12-13: Reading and Watching

Another permanent feature of my bullet journals is a page for tracking my reading. I now have a spreadsheet where I can do it, but again, it’s just much more satisfying this way. I was actually missing a monthly planner for reading so I created a new tab just for that. Now I can have it here! Yay! And this is where the previous reading challenge numbering comes into play! On this page, I make a list of books I’m planning to read, then track those that I actually read. I also have some space for notes specifically for blog-related things if needed.

The new thing in this year’s bullet journal is the watching page. I’m tired of never being on top of things, so this year I’m determined to note down new releases I might want to check out (and can find when needed) across different platforms (so I can plan which to pay for in any given month), and keep track of series and movies I’m watching (and where I watched them for future reference, though you can never account for streaming platforms changing their content ALL the time…). I’m curious how this will work out.

Reading and Watching

Pages 14-15: State of My Mind

The last pages of my monthly set-ups are a mix of a mental health tracker and a diary. I had something similar in 2020 but then it was a mood tracker on one page and notes on the next. I decided I needed two pages, because I never seem to be able to sum things up in only one line, lol. I need two (and even that’s not enough). This spread ties up with the Mental Map page, as I keep track of the same thing, so I need to color in two places, but while looking at the Mental Map I can get a bigger picture into the year, in this spread I can see why I choose what I did. I can keep notes on things that upset me/made me happy, things that happened I might forget but will be nice to look back at. I know it’s a bit of a luxury to use up two pages for this, and later I might consider the same trick I used with the monthly planner, but for now, I’m good with this. I have a stencil with a bamboo tree I could use a tracker (numbering and coloring the leaves) on the outside, and having my thoughts hidden inside the folded pages would leave me with an extra page to do with as I please ???? But for now, I think I’ll stick with this. Until I come up with something I want to use the freed page.

State of My Mind

So this is my general setup. This bullet journal is not 100% ready yet, as I want to get it pretty up a bit. I have a shitload of stickers I can use, I just have no idea how yet… I have a lot of panda ones I might use for the headers or the State of My Mind pages. I also got myself a pack of pretty Asian-style stickers that have 4 color schemes: blue, purple, pink, and reddish which I could sprinkle throughout (and would go really well with the notebook itself), attaching a color to a season (so blue for winter months, purple for autumn, pink for spring and red for summer). So many options, that I’m paralyzed with choices ????

One last thing I want to show you and then I’m done, I promise, is the cute sticky notes I have, one of which I just got on the day I’m posting this! It has a sheet of stickers to go with it and a card that has nothing to do with the bullet journal, lol.

Right, so that’s my bullet journal going into 2024. I’m quite confident that I’ll do better than 3 months this time around, lol. I have a good feeling about this. I just need to put in the finishing touches and I’m good to go.

If you have a bullet journal or plan to have one, let me know in the comments! I’d like to know what else you are adding that I don’t and find new stuff to try.


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