How To Set Up A Bullet Journal For The New Year

It’s that time of year again where people start thinking about starting a new bullet journal. I love setting up my bullet journal for the start of the new year. I think it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the previous year and make changes going forward. So today I’m going to share how to set up your bullet journal for the new year.

There are all sorts of ways to set up your bullet journal for the new year. The bullet journal is a useful tool because it can be customised exactly how you want it. So I’m going to share some of the pages and spreads I think can be useful to have at the start of a new year.

If you’ve never tried bullet journaling before this is the perfect time to get started. All you need is a notebook and a pen. You might want to check out this blog post which shows you how to start a bullet journal. Setting up for a new year is slightly different depending on if you already have a bullet journal or are starting fresh.

set up a bullet journal for the new year

HOW TO SET UP YOUR BULLET JOURNAL FOR THE NEW YEAR

DO YOU NEED A NEW NOTEBOOK?

I’ve seen some people say that you should start bullet journaling in a new notebook at the start of every year. This is actually what Ryder Carroll recommends in The Bullet Journal Method. I realise this might work for some but in my opinion, is a waste of money and a perfectly good notebook.

I know a lot of people go in for the whole new year, new you. This is perfectly acceptable but I feel like it always puts a lot of pressure on you to have a “good” year. Just think, you start a new bullet journal on January 1st. You’ve been planning this for a while. All you’re doing is putting pressure on yourself because of some arbitrary date. You don’t need to wait until the new year to make changes in your life or start a new bullet journal.

There have been times in the past where I’ve moved from a traditional planner back to bullet journaling. Often this will happen around the new year. But rather than waiting till January 1st to start my new bullet journal I will immediately make the change. This means my bullet journals tend to start around November/ December time.

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I think that Ryder Carroll’s reasoning for starting a new bullet journal is good. He says its a time to reflect on the year before and what you want to change for the new year. I think this is great. I do this exact thing in my bullet journal at the start of every year. It’s always a good idea to have a few goals for the year. But you don’t need a whole new bullet journal to do this.

There may be times where you decide its a good idea to migrate to a new bullet journal. If you don’t have many pages left in your bullet journal it may be better to start fresh. But realistically, notebooks are expensive, it’s also a waste of perfectly good paper if you have a half filled notebook. Maybe take a moment to decide if you really need to buy a new notebook for the start of the year.

PAST ACHIEVEMENTS

I like ending the year in my bullet journal by reflecting on the past year and what I achieved. I find this to be very useful. My memory is terrible and it’s easy for me to forget all of the good things that have happened over the previous 12 months. So I will create a page which documents all the good things which have happened.

2019 achivements bullet journal spreadI really like doing this and I would recommend you to try it. You don’t even need to wait till the end of the year to create a page like this. If you achieve something. Or if someone says something nice about you or your work. Its a really good idea to write it down. This means that at low points you can look back and see the good you’ve done.

As a graphic design student, these pages are essential to me. If I do a piece of work that a lecturer says good things about, I will write them down. This way if I’m feeling like I’m not doing enough. Or if my work isn’t good enough. I can look back and remind myself that I am capable of what I am doing.

Pages like this are especially useful when it comes to things like long term health conditions. I have chronic fatigue syndrome and its difficult to tell on a day to day basis how well I’m doing. It’s only looking back over the year as a whole that I can see if it was a good year or not.

NEW YEAR ART

I like starting the new year in my bullet journal by creating some sort of page which divides the old year from the new. Usually, I don’t make this page very fancy. I will just use some calligraphy or a simple drawing.

If you’re really into art journaling you could take this opportunity to make this page special. It’s really up to you. If you’re not artistic you could just write the year, or cut some pictures out of magazines.

I like going with a simple hello and the specific year. Sometimes I will also write a quote which represents my aims for the year. You could as minimal or over the top as you like for this page.

2020 bullet journal cover art

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If you are going to do something more complicated I would recommend you do it on a notebook page rather than painting or drawing on a separate sheet of paper which you stick into your notebook. I’m against sticking things in my bullet journal because I don’t like how it bulks out the pages. But I also don’t like how it makes it harder to flip through the notebook.

I realise that this is a tiny little personal annoyance and you can do whatever you want. I just thought I would share my personal opinion when it comes to sticking things in your bullet journal.

If you doubt your artistic ability do something minimal rather than trying to create something complicated. Even a simple piece of handwriting can look effective on a page if you pay attention to spacing. You don’t need to do anything complicated.

YEARLY OVERVIEW

I’m not sure if you would call this a yearly overview or year-at-a-glance page. This seems to be a common page for bullet journals and regular types of planners. It can be useful to have an overview of the year.

2020 at a glance yearly overview spread

In other blog posts, I’ve mentioned how I will do this same spread starting from August. This gives me an overview of the full academic year. Likewise, for this yearly overview, it can be a good place to note down important holidays or semester dates.

Most examples of the year-at-a-glance spread I’ve seen on Pinterest will have the spread over one page. I like having a little more space in my bullet journal so spread it out over two pages. But realistically the final design is up to you. If you wanted this page could be combined with the yearly log. Or if you prefer to use a digital planner for long term planning you could choose to not include this spread in your new year set up.

YEARLY GOALS

2020 goals bullet journal spread

This might sound a little silly but I enjoy setting out my goals for the new year. This is where the bullet journal can be a really useful planning tool. I will create a spread which notes down the important things I want to achieve this year. These don’t need to be massive goals. Just things you want to do differently.

Everyone’s goals are different and you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. If your goal for the year is to have a consistent bedtime that is just as valid as someone who wants a first at university. The important thing is that your goals should be specific. Rather than saying you want to read more, set a specific number of books that you want to read. Having vague goals are a lot harder to achieve because you never really know when you have achieved them.

But it’s not enough to just set out your long term goals for the year. Having a big goal like learn how to drive can be intimidating because there are so many different things you need to do to achieve that goal. There’s a good chance you will put off reaching those end goals because they seem so intimidating.

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So you should create another page in your bullet journal where you brainstorm everything you need to do to reach that big final goal. This page doesn’t need to be fancy, it doesn’t need to look nice. You just need to note down all the little tasks you need to accomplish to reach that end goal.

Doing something small like emailing a driving instructor is a lot easier and less intimidating than saying pass your driving test. If you break your big goals down into smaller chunks you’re much more likely to achieve them.

This is where the bullet journal proves how useful it is. By constantly looking back through your bullet journal, checking for tasks which can be marked as completed or migrated you will be constantly reminded of those things you need to do to achieve your long term goal. Of course, you still need to find the motivation to do those tasks. But breaking them down into tiny chunks makes it more likely that you will get them finished.

FUTURE LOG

I know that a future log is one of the main concepts that bullet journaling is based on. But I don’t like using a future log. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use a future log. It’s just that for me I prefer using a digital calendar when it comes to future planning

Out of the entire bullet journal method, the future log is one thing which I find doesn’t work very well. If I’m planning in advance, usually for things like appointments. I will be planning 6 to 12 months out. A future log is usually set up for 6 months at the most. This means I have to use a digital calendar for anything further away than that.

You also have the problem of what to do when migrating to a new bullet journal; you might forget to migrate something from a future log into the new bullet journal. There is also the added fact that my memory is terrible and I could forget to check the future log when setting up a new month in my bullet journal.

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There are ways around this. I know some people use the calendex system which works well for future planning. It’s the link between noting in a daily spread that an event will happen and a calendar which notes when that event is happening. But just based on some pictures I’ve seen of calendex setups it seems very complicated.

Especially when something like Google Calendar exists. I can set it to email me reminders that an event is happening. Google Calendar also works well with recurring events like birthdays. Rather than having to set up a new birthday spread in each bullet journal you can just set a birthday as a recurring event in your digital calendar.

While I love bullet journalling I’m more than happy to acknowledge that it’s not 100% perfect and still has flaws in the system.

FINALLY

I hope that was of some use if you’re setting up your bullet journal for the new year. Remember this is just an example of how you could set up your bullet journal. There are some spreads which other bullet journalers use at the start of a new year. I know the level 10 life concept is really popular online. This is something I’ve never really gotten into.

When it comes to setting up a new year in your bullet journal I think the actual design isn’t that important. I like taking this opportunity to set out my long term plans for the year and what I want to achieve. The thing with the bullet journal system is that it has been designed in such a way that it helps you achieve those goals.

So yes, I admit I love getting to experiment with my bullet journal set up. And I love setting up a new year in my bullet journal. But the important thing is how you use your bullet journal, not what it looks like.

Let me know more about you. Are you setting up your new year spreads in your bullet journal. Are you going to use the examples I’ve mentioned in this post? Or are there spreads I haven’t mentioned which you use in your bullet journal. Let me know in the comments.

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