Last week, I explained the first stage of my process of creating a Bullet Journal for the new year. I stressed on developing a bullet journal that will be productive for you, and showed you how mapping it out first is a good idea. This week, I’d like to share with you the ways in which I then proceeded to design the journal.
As mentioned in the last post, Pinterest is a primary source of inspiration. I usually like to adapt layouts from Pinterest to suit my style of journaling. I also like to add my own drawings and doodles if I have the time. This year however, I got to creating the journal too late, so I’ve aimed for a minimalist style.
Check out this Pinterest board for Bullet Journaling inspiration!
I used my Brustro pens for drawing out all the layouts, and I abstained from using colour. My main reason for doing so was so that when I got around to using this journal, I could use colour (be it in the form of markers or stickers) to highlight things that were a priority.
I don’t know about you but at The Ink Inquisition we aren’t fans of busy layouts. Which is probably why planners like Erin Condren do not work out for us. Especially when layouts turn out this way:
Looking at such a page, I would not be able to focus on what’s important. Also, there would be a big chance that I would get lost in trying to make every page look pretty. Basically, I don’t want to end up treating my journal like a scrapbooking project.
Once you know what you want in your journal, gather all the things you need (see previous post), and (maybe) follow these steps:
Step 1: PENCIL IN PAGE TITLES
Remember the map/framework I told you about last week? Once you’ve done that, I suggest just penciling in the titles for each page so that you know what comes where. I did this on the top outside corners in each page. Make sure you write it very light so that you can easily erase it later.
Please note that this step is not very important. You can totally skip it if you are confident enough. I took this step mainly because I had left a couple of pages blank by mistake in my previous journal. On the plus side, this step will make your job slightly faster as you won’t have to keep going back to your map/framework to check if you are on track.
Step 2: MARK THE SPACING ON YOUR PAGES
Once I finished Step 1, I had the freedom to start working on any page in the book without worrying about making mistakes. I worked on the first few pages, the last bunch of pages and then the daily pages.
Working on all the daily pages at once bored me to death so I recommend mixing it up.
Once you pick a page, roughly mark out the layout of the page with a pencil. I used a paper with square grids that I placed behind every page so that it gave me some reference and helped avoid skewed lines. With the help of this grid, I would mark out my margins and boxes. (This will be much easier if you are using a ruled or dot-grid/square-grid notebook.)
In some cases, I even wrote the content in pencil before moving to step 3. This was on pages that had space constraints.
Remember to erase these pencil marks once you complete the next step.
Step 3: DRAW THE LAYOUT WITH PENS
Once you’ve drawn in your guides (lines or dots), bring out the pens or whichever medium you’ve decided to use and start drawing the lines with a ruler. Once that’s done, draw banners, if any, and write the titles. Add any other details like doodles and icons or even page numbers.
Even with pencil marks to guide me, I made a few mistakes. White ink pens and correction tape came in handy here.
I usually worked on the same pages at once. For example, I finished working on the “Finance” pages for all the months in one go. I did this to ensure that spacing and lettering were consistent, but you can choose the way that suits you best.
Here are the layouts from my 2019 journal:
I took a different approach to making my year’s calendar. I combined all my months into one big block of dates. I did not have enough space to spread out all the months evenly with space to write down important dates, so this was what I decided on. It has the entire year on once side, and space to note down events on the other. I have decided to highlight dates on the calendar in bright colours, and write down the events with the responding colour so that it is easier to keep track.
20 THINGS TO START DOING & YEAR IN PIXELS
Left: This is a new page I’m trying out this year in the hopes that it will give me ideas on what to do whenever I get bored.
Right: For the pixel squares, I cut out a sheet of square grid paper which I then pasted on this page. This was so that the marker ink that I will be using through the coming year does not bleed onto the other side of the page.
THE STOP METHOD & PERIOD TRACKER
Left: This was a wonderful idea I found on Pinterest. I’m sure that a lot of people out there have been experiencing growing anxiety (understandably– it’s been a rough couple of years for nearly everyone). This method is a simple and seemingly effective way of calming yourself down when you feel a rising panic or anxiety attack. I am not sure who the original author of this is (if you do, please let us know so that we can give them their due credit) but I hope it’s something that is useful to you.
Right: My original plan was to make this page a deep red, but I’m so glad I nixed the idea. If you do think about making yours in colour, may we suggest something calming, like say, a light blue?
MONTH PAGE/COVER & MONTHLY LOG
I first thought of making doodles for these pages, but I didn’t have the time, so I settled on using printed-out images instead. I chose images of my favourite bands/singers and made them black & white with an old photo effect added to them. I also decided to make them look like polaroids to tie the entire theme together.
You can use any images you like. For a previous journal, I had used beautiful illustrations that I’d found online.
I wrote down the names of the months on these “polaroids” in different styles of hand lettering before pasting them.
HABIT TRACKER & SLEEP TRACKER
This habit tracker layout is the same as the one I used previously (why mess with a good thing?). I mark the days using different colours (as seen below in my 2018 journal).
I decided to keep a better track on my expenses and savings this year, so I’ve decided to use a bar graph-inspired tracking system for my different kinds of expenses. Writing down exactly what I spend money on is also very helpful.
In my 2018 journal, I had relegated a few pages in the back to my main projects. Since they were out of sight, I often forgot to work on them during the week. So for the new year, I decided to incorporate them in my daily spread. My projects are on the extreme left so that I notice them first. The boxes on the extreme right are for tracking meals and water, with the bottom right corner for a weekly doodle.
After the pages for all 12 months, I have two spreads dedicated to lists for ideas.
Keeping with the theme, I drew blank polaroid photos hung up on strings. The point of this is to draw/doodle in good memories from the year.
I have divided this spread into four essential lists that one would require while preparing to travel. Items in these lists can overlap though (for example, a lot of the items under “paperwork” will end up in the “take” list as well). I have dedicated only two pages to this since I don’t think I will be taking too many trips this new year. You can dedicate more pages, depending on your expectations for 2019.
MASTER GROCERY LIST
I made this chart to help me meal plan better.
I have only made provisions for planning breakfast and lunch. You can change this layout to better suit your requirements.
BLOG POST PLANNING
The final pages in my journal are dedicated to blogging. I have a certain set of steps I follow when making a post so I decided to use that, with space provided under certainsteps to write down details.
Step 4: PLANNING FOR THE YEAR/MONTH AHEAD
You probably noticed that pages like the 2019 Roadmap, 20 Things to Start Doing and the Habit Tracker are not filled in. This is because I leave these pages to the last day of the year (or, in the case of habit trackers, the first day of the month). I find that if I fill them too much in advance, they might not necessarily ring true in the beginning of the year/ month, as a lot of things could’ve changed in the time gap.
It’s good to review the past year before filling in the details on some of these pages. Look at what worked for you over the last year, and think of what you want to bring into the new one. Be kind to yourself– don’t set too high expectations and don’t feel bad about not having accomplished certain things in 2018. I know that a lot of people are all about “making the best of what time we have” and ‘YOLO’ (you can’t see me rolling my eyes while I type that, but trust me, I am), but cut yourself some slack. Allow yourself to be lazy once in a little while.
With those final details, you are done. You can keep adding designs to your pages as the year progresses, and even add doodle in themes for each month when you’re bored or need a distraction. I am planning to add designs to my journal cover when I find the time, and maybe that’s something you can try too.
I hope this post was at the very least enjoyable, if not useful. If you have any bullet journal layouts that you’d like to share, let us know in the comments below.