The Paper Kind

Creative living.

My 2023 Bullet Journal & Notebook Setup

Another year is over and I thought this would be the perfect time to share my bullet journal set-up for 2023. The way I use my bullet journal hasn’t changed much over the last 12 months. I’m still using the same notebook as 2022 (fingers crossed I can fit the whole year in the 150 pages I have left. But I like seeing these posts so I thought I would share mine.

notebook showing bullet journal page which reads, hello 2023

Lessons from my 2022 bullet journal

2020-2021 was a weird time for me. I graduated from university and I didn’t realise just how much that would change the way I used my bullet journal. During that time my bullet journal was more than just a task manager, it was also the place I’d write down feedback from tutors and work out ideas.

I graduated and I didn’t need to do this anymore. It took some time for me to figure out how this would change the way I used my bullet journal. I’m the sort of person who jumps from one planning system to another. By the end of 2021, I hated using my bullet journal, but I also didn’t want to go out and buy another planner.

notebook page showing bullet journal daily logs
2022 bullet journal page.

So I thought about it and I realised I hated the way my bullet journal looked. Yes, I know it doesn’t matter how your bullet journal looks. It’s a planning tool and it could be the ugliest thing in the world so long as it helps you. But I do art as a job so I felt like something needed to change.

The solution turned out to be pretty simple, my bullet journal needed more colour in it. I did this by doing collage and adding other scraps into my bullet journal. I wasn’t expecting much but it turned out to be a low-effort form of creating which I enjoyed. There were some pages I liked and others I hated. But the important part is that it was just for me. I know that sounds like a weird distinction to make but most of the art I make these days is for other people.

My 2023 Bullet Journal

My actual bullet journal setup hasn’t changed much compared to previous years. I start with a 2023 cover page before going into a goals page and a 2023 overview. This overview page is something I have changed slightly.

Typically I would use my google calendar rather than having an overview page in my bullet journal. However, as my small business has taken off I’m finding it useful to see the year as a whole. This way I can plan for courses and other events happening in 2023. I now understand why offices tend to have a huge yearly calendar on display, turns out there is a purpose for it.

notebook page open to 2023 year overview spread

The only real other change is using the traditional calendar view layout for my monthly pages. I mentioned in a recent post that I prefer this compared to the usual bullet journal list view. The only downside of this style is it leaves no space on the page for a monthly task list. I’m trying out something different this year where I have a whole separate page for the task list. Maybe next year I’ll report back on how it worked.

The only other important thing to mention is the calligraphy.

Goals for my 2023 bullet journal

I mentioned earlier that I set a goal for my 2022 bullet journal. This worked so well I’ve decided to do it again this year. This time I want to do more calligraphy in my bullet journal. I was already doing lettering in my headers and monthly spreads but I want to try doing more this year.

notebook page showing calligraphy which reads 2023 goals

I’ve also been vaguely inspired by @anintran on Instagram who is a fantastic calligrapher and also shares images of her bullet journal which I just love. Nina does a quote-a-day challenge and uses her bullet journal as a place to do this. I also think it’s a fantastic way of incorporating daily calligraphy practice into a planning routine.

I want to continue using colour in my bullet journal, which explains the calligraphy I’ve used in my initial 2023 spreads. I’ve seen other calligraphers using multiple inks in their lettering and I wanted to give it a try. It took me a while to figure out what worked best. My monoline style (done with a speedball B series nib) still needs some work. But I’m starting to love using my bullet journal as a place to experiment with new techniques.

The Sketchbook

The only other tool I’m using this year along with my bullet journal is my sketchbook. This is an MD Paper dot grid notebook, and yes, though it isn’t a traditional sketchbook. I’ve made an intentional choice to use this.

This has been the first year where my sketchbook is something entirely for me. Through college and university, the sketchbook was something I had to use to show my thought process. So though it was mine, it was mine so someone else could look at it and mark it. I love that I don’t need to worry about this anymore. I don’t have anyone setting expectations on what should and shouldn’t be in my sketchbook.

notebook page showing monthly spread for january

Though I started using it as a place to work out ideas. I’ve also been using it as the place where I save inspiration and my notes from calligraphy classes I’ve taken in 2022. By doing this it’s surprising just how much I’ve started to rely on my sketchbook when I do calligraphy. If I’m working on a layout, more times than not I also have my sketchbook open so I can reference a letter or a flourish that I want to copy in my artwork.

Now that I’ve condensed my set-up down to 2 notebooks, I’ve been considering the possibility of using one notebook for everything. Though my bullet journal is my main place for tasks, I will also write lists in my sketchbook. I feel that having everything together might be beneficial, but there’s also an argument to be made that the two notebooks have very different purposes and having them separate would be a good thing as well. I’m still not sure what would be best and it might be something I experiment with in 2023.

Finally

That’s my 2023 bullet journal set-up. If you want you can go back and compare it to my system in 2022. But honestly not much has changed. I’m quite happy with my planning system for the moment. It meets my needs and I don’t see that changing unless something big happens.

Thanks for reading and happy new year!

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