Bullet Journal // 2017 Review & 2018 Set Up


I started using a Bullet Journal style notebook in 2015. {check out here and here}

I used the same type of notebook for 2017 (made by Japanese brand Ca.Crea, & purchased at Zulily) and made a few changes for my setup.

My setup is very simple! I don’t do overly detailed pages or embellishment on pages. I set it up to be as useful as possible and the best part is as a blank notebook, it can be changed in any way as the year goes on. If a layout isn’t working or I need a different kind of list, just flip the page and start. I love this part of the Bullet Journal concept most, versus being confined by a date book/planner.

I also like that it is more of a record log that I can refer back to when working on memory keeping projects.

See photos below for more detail of what worked for me in 2017 and what I am changing for 2018. The blank set up for 2018 is pictured below.

Check out the video for a more detailed look with my thoughts:


bujo what worked

bujo what didn't work

bujo New 2018

bujo pilot pen

Pilot Multiball pen

bujo gratitude



bujo layout

bujo recipes




bujo stabilo

bujo pen



Bullet Journal // Part Two: Me Starting Somewhere

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So I convinced myself to just start the Bullet Journal system in what notebooks I have on hand. For more information refer to my other post here.

While I’ve viewed some extremely detailed Bullet Journal systems, and others that could be works of art, I tried to stick to the advice of so many which mainly said: Just start, keep it simple.

The thing that works for me is it’s not something I can mess up! There isn’t only one page per month or anything like that because I make the pages. I design what I need on the next available page.

Quickly, here are my favorite things about this system, then if you are so inclined, read (way more) information below: Index, Future Log, Monthly Tracker.

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Bullet Journal // Index

I quickly figured out why this system is so successful for many. Mostly being the Index. Having the Index and numbering pages means that you can always find what you are looking for and refer back to things without having to remember when it happened. It also means it doesn’t matter what order things are set up in, that’s why when you have a new idea/list you just go to the next page and add it to the Index.

The Future Log is useful for me because I tend to have dates planned out way in advance. Usually trips, concerts, or shows of some sort. This way I can glance and see what is coming up in a few months.

Also the monthly tracker. I’m not sure who originally started it, but that for me has been what I’ve been looking for. Mainly because it acts more as a log than a planner, and with a quick glance I can see what I’ve actually been doing. It leaves some flexibility by always having a blank line, a blank space, a blank page. There’s always room to add what you need.

Here is my initial setup:

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2016 at a Glance

After the Index, on the left page you see my Key, which is where I selected symbols and ideas that they represent. I took most from the main Bullet Journal site, and some from others I listed in the last post. Some I made up to suit my needs. Again – freedom to set it up how you want!

Some other ideas for this:

  • Color coding – with washi tape, highlighters, markers, etc.
  • Mini stickers – tons of planner stickers available now, but you would need to have duplicates.
  • Stamps – tons of planner stamps available, some of my favorites from Kelly Purkey, check out her shop here.

For me, I need to keep it simple and not have so much stuff associated with it, so I will be using the simple drawn symbols. I especially like (and most often use) the task dot, which can be x‘d out when the task is completed.

On the right is 2016 at a glance. As you can see I ran out of room for the whole year, so the last two months are at the bottom of the next page which includes a list of Long Term Shopping items. Things I want to keep my eye out for as far as sales, estates sales, vintage finds, along with normal things I need for the house.

Bullet Journal - Lists
Bullet Journal – Lists

On the right page, starts the Future Log. I have 3 months on each page for 4 pages. It mostly details bigger events: concerts, trips, visitors, etc. I haven’t spent a ton of time customizing this part.

Bullet Journal - Weekly Spread
Bullet Journal – Weekly Spread

This is my 2-page weekly spread. I set it up for the month ahead and no further so that other lists can be added. On the left side the days of the week are listed, separated by dotted lines. This is where any scheduled items go, sometimes work related, appointments or other significant tasks. I put bill reminders here ahead of time also. As the week progresses I log in things like if I went to yoga class, what tv shows I watched, meal outings & any other happenings I may want to remember for scrapbooking.

On the right side I have a few different mini lists. For me this works for now. I can see where others may separate these out into separate page items. With this size notebook it gives me more room on a page to have sections. So I list To Dos, Meals, Blog Posts, Projects, & Shopping. I’m still figuring out exactly how to use these lists and which symbols for what, but it’s already helping so much just seeing things listed categorically. Do I dare say I feel like I’ve actually accomplished more?! Maybe because I just want to x it off and not have to migrate it to next week.

As you will see if you research the Bullet Journal, migrating or moving unfinished tasks to the next list is another practice. Some use arrow symbols to show the tasks are moved. I tried that and didn’t really feel that it’s necessary. I usually know what I missed and just copy it over to the next week or drop it.

Bullet Journal - Monthly Tracker
Bullet Journal – Monthly Tracker

The Monthly Tracker has proven to be the most useful for me. Because I like how it quickly sums up what I’ve been doing. I can see by glancing if the boxes are getting colored in or not. It does sort of keep me on track or at least make me aware of what I am or am not getting to do. Like for example, I know now that I failed miserably at the 30-day color challenge from Kathy at The Daily Marker! But that’s ok. Keep it moving forward.

One thing I have done is add colored tabs to some of my pages for quick reference. I figure with the different tabs I have I should be able to have a different color for each month. It just makes it a little easier for quick reference. February was red of course!

Bullet Journal - Paper Clip
Bullet Journal – Paper Clip

To keep tabs on the current week, I decided to add the number associated with the month in paper clips. I have tons of these from Ikea, so a good way to use them and change them out as I go. I also added some red washi tape. I figure keeping with the color coding of the month, if I tab or add washi tape to the edges of pages for quick reference.

Bullet Journal - Back Pocket
Bullet Journal – Back Pocket

The last page of the notebook is a two-sided pouch pocket. Perfect for keeping tabs and some stickers. I ended up adding little luggage stickers to weeks where I will be traveling.

I’ve completed 3 weeks in my Bullet Journal so far and it seems to be working. I consult it everyday and jot down notes. I’ve added a few more lists to the Index: Long Term To Dos, House Projects, and Layouts I want to make.

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Layouts & Monthly Glance

For March, I added in a Month at a glance page to see if I like that. I think in busier months it may be helpful.

I’ve added a few custom touches with mini stickers, washi and tried my new tape runners, which need just the right amount of speed & pressure. I haven’t added many new sections yet, but I do like what I see others doing as far as Gratitude lists and a page for quotes or doodling.

I will try to update with how it’s going or what changes I make in the next few weeks.

Have you tried the bullet journal system? What works for you? Does it keep you on track? Would love to hear about other experiences with it and please link if you have photos!

Bullet Journal // Part One: Some Info

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I am not a planner. Well let me rephrase that – I am a reformed planner, in the sense that I don’t want to be a planner. I don’t want every detail of my life to be structured and spelled out on paper. It’s not how I live. I try to live fluidly, staying in the moment and do what feels good. Sometimes a day dedicated to chores ends up being a day of Netflix and baking. Sometimes I think I am going to get out to do a bunch of errands yet at 5pm I am still in my pajamas hovering over my studio workspace.

I am not a planner, but I am a memory keeper. And that’s where the need for something, some sort of way to record things more readily comes into play.

I stopped keeping a paper planner about 5 years ago. My style of planner back in the day was always a blank notebook where I would add in the days of the week and my to-do lists. Sometimes I would tab back pages to keep things like gift lists or house projects. It worked.

In recent years I’ve relied on Evernote and Google Docs to keep lists: house projects, vacation plans, scrapbook layouts to make. I also used my one sheet weekly planner to keep life things in order (bills, meals, appointments).

Then the planner craze hit the scrapbooking world. I have resisted for the most part. I do buy some of the stamps and embellishments to use in my regular scrapbooking, but I don’t have a dedicated calendar type planner.

I’ve checked out the different systems and admire the way scrapbookers are using their planners. But still. It didn’t feel like something I wanted to do.

I found the traveler’s notebooks and love them more for mini scrapbooking albums. I thought about going with a Midori system (Jetpens.com has a comprehensive guide). This started to lean more towards my needs with a planner. I started to evaluate my needs more and thought I should try to emulate what I think the system I would like to use would be, with what supplies I have.

I remember last summer first reading about the Bullet Journal and thinking it seemed like a good system. I decided to revisit that idea. Then as I was reading through the main site and other resources I saw the word log. Logging. Yes! I need a log. Not a planner. A log. Somewhere I can write things so that I don’t forget.

I googled it and found some pins on Pinterest. I took a few notes of what I think I would need to keep in a log. I decided to use a notebook I have on hand. It was a set of 3 that I purchased from Zulily, they are Japanese notebooks from Ca.Crea.

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Ca.Crea notebooks

Reason I really like these notebooks:

  • spiral bound so I can flip the page around and lay it flat
  • grid lines – my preferred paper for writing
  • a two-sided pouch pocket in back
  • sturdy plastic cover
  • elastic band to keep notebook closed
  • narrow size

Here are some other resources & people using the Bullet Journal system that helped me get started:

One thing I read consistently on Bullet Journaling was just to get started, and so I did. Stay tuned…