Plotting the year with a bullet journal

Issue 21: Manifestation through analog intentions

Sadly, our hope that all of the world’s problems would go away in 2021 didn’t happen! That said, I am looking forward to any sense of renewal and even a new Gegorian calendar year has felt refreshing so far. On my last day of my winter break, I'm creating a new bullet journal to plot 2021. I still need to fill it out so this newsletter issue will be shorter than a Robert Rodriguez directed episode of The Mandalorian.

For those new to bullet journaling, it's a method of personal organization that includes schedules, reminders, to-dos, and brainstorming. All you need is a pen and notebook to get started. I shared on Twitter why much of my work is analog and these themes trickle over to scheduling and planning. My digital calendar has become an invasion of meetings and reminders, not a life navigation device. My go-do notebook is the Leuchtturm1917 A5 soft cover dot grid. I’ve been using these notebooks for the last four years and always get the same one because I am intimately familiar with the dot layout and prefer a bendable notebook.

Exploring layout ideas

I believe there’s no wrong way to bullet journal and you’ll develop layouts that work for your purpose. Before I fill these layouts with my own personal content, I'd like to share a few different layouts I use.

Theme generation

I don't do New Years resolutions, instead it's more of guiding themes, which some become goals. I included a scan of my 2019 themes which looks back at 2018 and 2019 as a way to retrospectively look at how I did. Themes can be tiny or ambitious. The goal of this template is to generate as many thoughts as possible.

Reviewing the quarter

I've been tracking a few key areas important to me: family, health, creative, investing, and writing. I use a 1-10 scale as a way to rate how I feel I've personally been doing in each area. After creating a few blocks to write, I'll jot some thoughts on my own retrospective.

A look in the week

This is the most detail I go into as I don't keep a daily journal in this book (I use a different notebook that is less structured). Since my digital calendars are too overwhelming, I write down the most important things in work and life I need to accomplish. In the bullet journal I have created all the weeks necessary in order to them them ready for subsequent weeks.

Quick tips

  • Don't worry too much about mistakes. I find inconsistencies in my grids and find the next opportunity to correct and don't dwell on it

  • Creating a visual system can help you find things quicker

  • Like a visual system, color coding can help. I use a red, blue, and black pen as ways to distinguish different layers of information

I recommend The Bullet Journaling Method by Ryder Carroll (the creator of bullet journaling) for a more in-depth look at bullet journaling. Amanda Rach Lee's YouTube channel is great for video inspiration (don't get too intimidated about her amazing drawing skills!).

Try it

My chicken scratches are proof that you don't need to be a draftsman to start bullet journaling. The content is what you should focus on, and the drawing will work itself out. If you feel like digital calendars or planners can be too overwhelming, give analog a try.

I’m looking forward to see how bullet journaling might transpire for you.