Bullet Journal update: January 2016

Last year I wrote two posts [post 1; post 2] about how I used the Bullet Journal method for my planning for personal and work use. I thought I would update those posts with my current setup. I’m going to go through my personal journal and my work journal separately, since I keep separate journals and do different things with both of them.

However, first of all, because it’s me, I’m going to go on a bit of a rant. This was sparked by an observation from my friend/fellow IN librarian Renata on Twitter, but I completely agree with her. Here’s the thing! Bullet journaling is great, and I love it and works for me in a way no previous attempted planning system has. HOWEVER. I think because of Instagram/Pinterest/etc, there’s a pressure to have journals that look super fancy and cool and you can only have  Moleskine or that other one starting with an L that honestly I can never even remember and you should add washi tape and decorate everything and if you don’t, you’re not doing it Right.


The genius of Bullet Journaling is how flexible it is. If you love to decorate and want to invest in high quality journals, then absolutely go for it! But you don’t need to have a reblog-worthy journal to be a successful Bullet Journaler. Do what works for you. I don’t care about the weather, so I don’t track it. Some people love tracking it! My first dedicated Bullet Journal was one I got for about $4 at CVS. I tried it out for about 3 months in literally a Mead spiral-bound notebook. I’m currently using two I bought at Target for $6 each. I inherited some Staedtler pens from my dad, and I do enjoy using them to add a touch of color. Some people use their Bullet Journals as journals, some as organizers, some as something in-between (mine is mostly an organizer). Do what works for you and don’t feel overwhelmed by the people who invest a lot of time & money in making theirs as gorgeous as possible.

With that hopefully encouraging pep talk/rant out of the way, I’m going to go ahead and look at my personal journal.




Here’s my monthly spread! There are three main categories here: Important Dates, Financial Things, and Goals. Last year I was using a “Things to Plan” category as well, but I didn’t find that worked terribly well for me. I add Important Dates at the beginning of the month and as they come up later on. Financial is just to help me make sure I’m aware of major expenses & that I’ve actually paid them. Goals is the aspect I use the most: I take my monthly goals and use them to create my weekly and daily goals as needed. I try to do sub-goals for big categories like cleaning, and if two goals are related I’ll usually stick them on the same line.

I’ve been enjoying doing some ribbon sketches around my dates, but we’ll see if I keep it up all year.



Here’s my basic format for this week, which I hadn’t filled in with the specific items yet. The spread at the top is for things I do every day: my work schedule, some daily habit tracking, events & errands (filled in from the monthly important dates where needed), blogging, and writing. I had been doing the writing tracker separately at the bottom of the page so this is an experiment–I’m always tinkering with layout and such to see if new things work.

Underneath that are a few specific things: goals for the week, filled in from my monthly goals & anything particular that needs to happen this week. Then I have a space for food that I’m planning to make, filled in from my menu document on Google Drive. Finally, there’s a space to note specific books that I need/want to read this week (this sometimes works really well & sometimes not at all).



Last one is daily. This is basically the same as in my last update, so I’m not going to go over that again, but I’ll note two new things. First: I’m sometimes color-coding my boxes with the Staedtler pens. One color is computer/online things, one is non-computer things. This just helps me balance my day a bit. Second, I’m attempting to record 3 short observations per day on the right-hand side. These don’t have to be anything big, but I’m liking how it’s working so far–I’m reflecting a bit more on my day & how it’s going. I also dropped the meal tracker I was doing last year as it wasn’t super useful to me.

Special pages

One of the great things about the Bullet Journal method is the way you can catch important topics on their own pages. I have several of these, and I’m sure I’ll add more as I go along. As someone who frequently has scattered, ongoing thoughts or ideas on a particular topic or project, having specific pages to mark these down on is really helpful.


This is my current forward planning method. I have about 7 lines for each month of 2016 and as I’m aware of events/appointments during those months, I’ll mark them down so I can add them to the monthly page as needed. It’s a bit cramped, but I think it’ll work for most months.


Here’s an example of a project page: I’m knitting shawls for friends over the course of the year. This tells me who I’m knitting what for, with what yarn, and also allows me to track when I started & finished each shawl.


Last year I was always wondering what I’d watched recently/meant to catch up on, so this year I’m planning to track the TV & movies I watch. This is a bit deceptive, though, as that was my third time seeing Star Wars. Haven’t decided if/how I want to show rewatches.

Last personal page! My work schedule varies depending on what week it is, so I have a couple of months worked out so I know which days I’ll be free. If you work 9-5 M-F, this probably isn’t super useful, but if you work a variable but regular schedule, I find this really useful.




My monthly page for work is pretty obvious/similar to what I was doing last year. Goals on the left, programs on the right, with passive programs listed a little below the others. I draw my goals based on a specific page which I created for the year, which I’ll talk about in a minute.

Weekly and Daily



Unlike my personal journal, I’ve found that I don’t need a separate page for each week to keep me on track. So I just dedicate the first blank column at the start of each week to my projects, events & goals. I am setting the weekly column off a bit with some fancy ribboning.


Here’s an example of two days side by side. I do try to write down my lists in order of priority, but this is pretty rough and often I’ll remember something else or it will come up as the day goes on.

Special Pages
Here’s the page where I have big ongoing projects for the year noted: things I’m expecting and planning to do all year and what I’m hoping to accomplish in every month. This just helps me keep on track with a realistic assessment of where I should be and what my goals for each month should be.
IMAG0210 IMAG0212 
Similar things here: I do blog posts for the library and displays in the Children’s room and this way I can mark down ideas I have for either as I have them.
We plan programs out 2 months in advance, so I mark down what I’m going to be doing as I plan them (though I obviously forgot to fill in all of March–oops!)

And that’s it! Let me know if you have any questions or feedback.

By Maureen LaFerney

My name is Maureen. I currently work as a library assistant in a public library in the Indianapolis area, and also just so happen to be a voracious reader. I frequently end up under a cat.

14 replies on “Bullet Journal update: January 2016”

I had to laugh when you talked about not getting caught up in making your journal “pretty” and Pinterest-worthy, because yours is still way prettier and more organized than mine! Mine consists of a monthly to-do list at the beginning of each month, followed by daily checklists of stuff I think I might forget / not be as motivated to do otherwise. I’m constantly missing days or weeks at a time and my boxes and lists are so sloppy and full of scribbles and crossed-out items that I’d be embarrassed to post a picture of them! But it works when I need the extra brainspace / motivation / reminder to get tasks done, and that’s the important thing. I’m glad you’re enjoying the system and figuring out how to make it work well for you! (Also, NGL, I am pretty excited about that shawl list. :D)

Oh, I definitely enjoy making mine pretty! On the other hand, I’m not spending $$ and a lot of time decorating it the way some people do. Which is totally fine for them! Just that it’s not a requirement at all and sometimes I think it seems like one. My personal feeling is: does it work for you? Okay!

Also, yes, shawl list. 😀

Ooh! Shawls! So pretty, and such yummy yarn!
I’m enjoying reading about the bullet journaling, too, though I find between my work schedule and my daughter’s many doctor’s appointments that I need a planner with dates. I do have a Leuchturm this year, though it’s just in my favorite color and not otherwise decorated. I like that it has a blank page next to the dates for each week, and also blank pages at the end, so I can write weekly to-dos and longer goals on other pages. Maybe if I get coordinated I could try to do an official combo bullet/standard journalling. Really admiring your ribbon work, too!


That’s it! I’m not kidding when I say I can never remember the name. 🙂

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using a Moleskine or Leuchturm at all–just with creating an expectation that one MUST use either.

There shouldn’t be pressure! I just decided a couple years ago that I was going to get myself nice planners once a year and not have a smartphone. I have Leuchturm without having known anything about it before, because it comes in a color I like and has paper thick enough that my ink doesn’t bleed through. But I’d say anyone starting out with any kind of planning system should buy low cost and step up if and when they feel like it would really be worth it to make their experience better for them personally.

I know what you mean about feelings stressed over TV. Early days yet, obvs, but I really like the tracking idea & hope it works. Yay!

Oh, I meant to put that in and I guess forgot. Vitamins, Water, Exercise–ie daily habit trackers for things I need to do and often forget.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.