Happy 2020! For me, the arrival of January always brings along with it a fresh-start-feel, like the beginning of a new school year, and when I was setting up my bullet journal for the month, I wanted it to evoke the same feeling of magic. I wanted it to feel cool, crisp and clear, like the air outside when it has snowed.
It’s been almost nine months since my planning system was in need of an overhaul, and I read Ryder Carroll’s The Bullet Journal Method, and while I’ve stuck with a lot of aspects to outlines in the book, I’ve also tweaked a few things to better suit my needs.
I always felt that having a separate cover page for the month wasn’t something I would use my journal, mostly because I’m terribly inartistic. Over time, however, I began to realise the transition between my daily pages and next month’s monthly log was shockingly abrupt, and a little pause in the form of a cover page would provide some breathing room.
I’ve only been using cover pages for two months, so I’m definitely still finding my footing in terms of what I like – if the sea of white-out wasn’t a dead giveaway. In the end, I decided to admit to myself that, as always, simple and minimalist design is what I prefer.
As a decorative element, I drew one of my favourite wintry greens, a sprig of seeded eucalyptus, with the help of a tutorial by illustrator Shayda Campbell, and adorned it with the word “January” in capital letters. I like how clean it looks, even though the spacing between the drawing and the writing could use some work.
Monthly Log / Calendar
I realised pretty quickly that the monthly log outlined in the book, consisting of a vertical list of dates, didn’t really give me a proper overview of the month, so I switched back to one of the elements you’re likely to find in any planner: a calendar.
It consists of seven columns, one for each day of the week, and five rows, and takes up a full two pages. There’s enough room left to the side to note the name of the month, and track goals and things I’m waiting on, like packages or replies.
I added a black circle and then a small cursive heading, and left a little room underneath each heading to write down what I wanted to track. I keep one of the bookmarks that comes with the journal tucked into this page, so I can quickly flip to it when I’m planning for the day.
I’m still a little on the fence about the goals section – I like that it’s there, easily accessible, but I don’t usually pay too much attention to it once I’m planning, so we’ll see if it stays.
The “waiting on” section doesn’t need too much attention, but it’s handy to keep an eye on things, like those marble doorstops I ordered in October that still haven’t arrived (urgh).
Something I’ve only recently started doing is starting the month with a mind-sweep or brain-storm session, as I’ve titled it in my bullet journal. The idea is to take a little time and write down everything that’s been on your mind, and simply get it out on paper. I used to do it every week on a piece of scrap paper, but it’s much easier to have a dedicated page for it. That way, whenever I think of a project or task, I can write it down and move on.
I use this page as a starting point when planning out my days. When I do manage to complete a task, I colour in the box and highlight the task, so I can quickly see which tasks are open.
The page directly following that is my daily log. I tend to keep these really simple, and one of a handful of layouts. This month, I decided to opt for this format: a single black dot, mimicking the monthly calendar, the day, and the date.
Underneath it, I wrote down all of my tasks, and worked my way down the list. Coloured boxes mark completed tasks in my journal – the dots Ryder prefers weren’t really working for me.