Today I would like to share my 2023 bullet journal setup,1If you don’t know what a bullet journal is, I strongly recommend that you check out this website. It is one of the organisational things that has radically changed for the better the way I plan and keep track of my life. and particularly compare it to my 2022 setup in order to show what has changed and why. Before starting, I would like to rehiterate that I only plan on paper, and that therefore my bullet journal is my one and only “command centre”, where I note down appointments, tasks, birthdays, addresses, and everything I need to know about my schedule and activities. As of this year, I also keep a digital backup of my appointments using Nextcloud Calendar,2I decided to have a digital backup mainly because, being a freelancer now, I cannot afford to lose or miss work appointments and meetings, and with the online calendar I can set reminders, and I can rest assured that if my bujo happened to get lost of ruined, I would still be able to retrieve all my work appointments. but this is only in case I’m out and I happen not to have my bujo with me — which doesn’t happen often. However, the digital calendar does not include tasks, event details, important notes and so on, so I still use and consider my bullet journal my main and only planner. So, here is how I set it up for 2023.
What has stayed the same
I have kept a couple of layout s which have been working really well for me in 2022, and which therefore I wanted to replicate this year. One of these is a yearly tracker, where I track and can see at a glance some important health- and household-related activities or recurring events. As an example, I mark here when I water my orchids, so I always know when the last time I watered them was, and whether they need to be watered again.3I use symbols for tracking, so I don’t really need much space per day, as you can see from the photo.
Secondly, I have kept my daily memory spread, where I write one line (actually, half a line) a day of something remarkable or interesting that happened that day, something that I want to remember in the future. This gives me a lot of satisfaction to fill in, and at the end of the year gives me a nice overview of my year. What’s more, at the end of the year I used to often have the feeling that the year had passed me by and I hadn’t really accomplished much. With this spread, I can go back and see all the things I did and how I spent my time during that particular year, and this helps a lot to avoid that kind of negative feeling.
Actually, in order to make it even more useful from this last point of view, this year (besides making the columns narrower since the notebook I’m using has a smaller grid) I also left some space at the bottom of each month to note 2-3 main achievements or memorable moments of the month, so that by the end of the year I can see all the little things I accomplished or experienced which made the year worth living.
I have also kept the main planning style of 2022: a monthly log to keep tack of future appointments, tasks, activities, holidays, etc., and daily pages with a timeline on the left for the daily appointments, and space on the right for tasks, notes, journaling, and everything else. I generally set up my daily pages on Sunday evening for the following week, and this helps me stay focused on each day, but also gives me the ability to add tasks and deadlines for the week as they come up.
What has changed
I have tweaked a couple of things here and there, learning from how I used my bullet journal in 2022, and adapting this wonderful and versatile method to how my work and my life have changed in 2022. For example, now that I don’t have a digital calendar at work and I don’t have an employer who keeps track of the lessons I am scheduled to teach and meetings I am due to attend, I need a much more solid future log than the original bullet journal method affords.
Hence, I have decided to combine what last year was the monthly log, which I used to make as the month in question approached, with the future log: I have created all the twelve monthly spreads (as seen in the picture above) for 2023 at the beginning of the notebook. These will be both my future log and monthly log. In this way, I have plenty of space to add all the lessons, appointments, and deadlines that are coming up in the future, and I also still have a useful overview of the current month, all in one. As you might be able to notice from the pictures, to make life easier for myself I have also added small monthly tabs to my pre-made monthly logs, so that it is easier to flip to a given month at any time of the year.
I have also changed the notebook that I use.4Last year’s 365 Stalogy still remains one of my favourite notebooks, but since I love stationery I also love to try new notebooks, and I love Hobonichi paper! This year I am using a Hobonichi plain notebook in A5 size. This is considerably slimmer than the Stalogy I used last year, but still includes 288 pages, which I am hoping will be enough to last me all through 2023 — and if not then it will be an excuse to start another bullet journal earlier, which is something I always enjoy. 🙂
In the middle of 2022 I have also added to my bullet journal a reference notebook. This is a very slim A5 notebook,5It’s a Hobonichi memo pad made of 12 sheets of Tomoe River Paper, so you can imagine how slim it is. which I use to store information that I think I will need throughout the years. These include people’s birthdays, debt repayment plans, house maintenance that we need to do, etc. In this way, I don’t need to copy this information into a new notebook every year, but I can still keep it with me and refer to it every time I need it.
Finally, I have decided to go back to combining work and personal life (which were divided into two separate notebooks last year). I have realised that being a freelancer it is quite difficult to separate work from personal life sometimes,6This does not mean that I am always working, but that while I’m working and I’m on a break I might decide to load the dishwasher, or water my plants, and so on. So keeping work and personal tasks together helps me manage my time at best. plus I often work from home now, so it would be hard if tasks and appointment were scattered into two or more different notebooks. Instead, I am repurposing a half-year Stalogy I had laying around half-used to become a work notebook. I am going to use it to keep work notes, plan lessons, jot down the content of phone conversations, and so on. However, all my work tasks and appointments will stay in my main bujo, so I can have everything in one place and make sure I don’t forget anything.
The great thing about this is that, being two half-year and one very slim 12-page notebook, the total size of the “system” is not so bulky. In addition, if I happen to be travelling for leisure, or be off work, I can simply remove the work notebook from the cover, and travel even more lightly.
This is it, this is my planning setup for 2023. I hope that you found some inspiration in it, and if you have any questions or are just curious to know more about my setup, please feel free to contact me. Thank you for reading, and happy planning! 😀
PS: none of the links in this post are affiliate links.
- 1If you don’t know what a bullet journal is, I strongly recommend that you check out this website. It is one of the organisational things that has radically changed for the better the way I plan and keep track of my life.
- 2I decided to have a digital backup mainly because, being a freelancer now, I cannot afford to lose or miss work appointments and meetings, and with the online calendar I can set reminders, and I can rest assured that if my bujo happened to get lost of ruined, I would still be able to retrieve all my work appointments.
- 3I use symbols for tracking, so I don’t really need much space per day, as you can see from the photo.
- 4Last year’s 365 Stalogy still remains one of my favourite notebooks, but since I love stationery I also love to try new notebooks, and I love Hobonichi paper!
- 5It’s a Hobonichi memo pad made of 12 sheets of Tomoe River Paper, so you can imagine how slim it is.
- 6This does not mean that I am always working, but that while I’m working and I’m on a break I might decide to load the dishwasher, or water my plants, and so on. So keeping work and personal tasks together helps me manage my time at best.