2023 Bullet Journal Setup

I have been bullet journalling for just over 2 years now and sometimes I wonder how I survived without it. From a practical point of view, it allows me to keep on top of my tasks and appointments, while also giving me somewhere to compile my thoughts and ideas. Personally, keeping a bullet journal has been hugely beneficial in terms of managing my general wellbeing, particularly in organising and calming my (typically rather anxious) mind. Today, I’m showing you the first section of my new bullet journal for 2023 (admittedly rather belatedly), which includes my general spreads and pages for the first half of the year.

When I began bullet journalling, I kept my spreads and layouts very simple (I’m talking one black pen simple). I set everything up to be purely functional, so as not to overwhelm myself while I adjusted to the bullet journalling process. If you’re starting out with bullet journalling, I strongly recommend you do the same. However, as time has gone on, I have come to see my bullet journal as not only a functional item, but something that I can use for some consistent creative expression. Nowadays, the spreads and layouts that I find the most useful are the ones that are particularly aesthetically pleasing to me. The more I enjoy looking at my bullet journal, the more likely I am to keep up with it consistently. All this to say, the following post will walk you through my 2023 bullet journal setup- it is deliberately decorative, not because a bullet journal has to be, but because it makes me happy. Keep this in mind if you’re planning to start your own!

One quick note before we get into it- this 2023 bullet journal setup is extensive. It took a long time. If you’re thinking of setting up your own bullet journal, you do not need to spend huge amounts of time on it, nor do you need to include as many spreads as I have done- in fact, most people do not! I have included spreads that are personally important to me and that I am prepared to include, at the expense of my own time. In 6 months’ time, when I am setting up my second bullet journal of 2023, I will reevaluate how useful these spreads were and how much time I have available for setting the journal up, before deciding which to include. That’s the great thing about bullet journalling- not only is every month a thematic and defined reset, but so is every year, every new bullet journal, indeed, every week.

Right, let’s get into it, shall we?

I picked this notebook from Coral and Ink for my first bullet journal of 2023 and I’ve been really enjoying using it. I think the design is really pretty, the paper is good quality and I haven’t had any trouble with pens bleeding through as of yet. My only (very slight!) criticisms are that the pages are not numbered (though this is just personal preference) and the attached ribbon bookmarks are already unravelling slightly, which, I admit, I have never had on any of my other journals.

For the theme of my opening section, I drew inspiration from the bullet journal itself, and opted for a cherry blossom/polaroid theme. I used the following stationery (none of the following links are affiliate links):

The inside cover is (as is typical), not dotted, and includes a nameplate. I decided to put my goals section here, so that the space was not wasted. I also stamped my name onto the nameplate, and coloured the leaf pattern in with my gold pen.

I stuck the first pages together with double sided tape, because it is practically impossible to fully open out the first page (this is the same for every bullet journal I have ever used), and used the first double page spread for a quote + cover page. I used this quote from Zainab Hudha, which I found on Instagram. I cut out the kraft paper polaroid and numbers using my craft knife and added faux stitching around the numbers using my white pen.

My next spread was my yearly calendar. For this spread, I used a dutch door (I cut off the top portion of the right hand side page and used the next double page spread as well) so that I could fit in a whole year. Even though this journal is only for January-June, I like to include a calendar for the rest of the year to keep track of dates. When I fill this in, I will write the events in the space below each monthly calendar and, using the baby pink Kuretake dot pen, I will highlight the corresponding date on the mini calendar, so I can see what my months look like at a glance.

Like the previous spread, this spread also used 2 double page spreads and is a little niche, but has been one of my favourite, and most useful, spreads so far. I am a big fan of tennis, so I made a tennis calendar for the first 6 months of the year. I used a craft knife to cut the middle two pages down, adding a scalloped edge to each side, then covered each page with brown paper. This gave me the extra space I needed to ensure I could fit in the weeks, dates, names and winners of each tournament for both the ATP and WTA tour. You can see my layout below.

The coloured dots (made using the Kuretake dot pens) represent the tournament category (ATP 250, 500, 1000, Grand Slam and Other (e.g. Davis Cup, United Cup etc). I think I will end up adjusting this layout slightly in my next bullet journal, but it does the job at the moment (and looks fun too!).

With those two calendars finished, we move into the categorised sections. I have five specific sections in my journal: Work & Finance (shown above), Physical Health, Mental Health, Books & TV and Hobbies & Such (the & Such represents my wishlist spread, which would otherwise have been uncategorised…). I made use of internal tabs throughout this setup to make everything easier to locate. I made these by cutting out portions of the right hand side pages, leaving a small tab which I covered with brown paper and wrote sub-headings on using my white pen.

The Work & Finance section consisted of a schedule (on the cover page), along with a double page spread for finances and a double page spread for blog content (both shown above).

Onto the Physical Health section which includes my ‘timeline’, that is, somewhere to write down important dates of procedures, the start of new medications, vaccines, treatments etc. I find doctors often ask me for the exact dates of these sort of things, so it is good to have a place with them all written down for reference.

TThe Physical Health section also includes an exercise tracker (left), in which each pink dot (again, made using the Kuretake dot markers) represents a day that can be ticked off. The medicine tracker (right) is one of my most useful spreads- I’ll be doing an in-depth post on it at a later date.

After the Physical Health section comes the Mental Health section. To the left of the cover page, I have included one of my all-time favourite bullet journal spreads: the Year in Pixels (admittedly, I plan to use my dot markers to fill this out, so my pixels will unfortunately be… circular, but no matter). This spread is a common feature of many bullet journals- for each day, you colour in a box on the grid according to a key, to represent how you were feeling that day. I find it particularly useful for noting trends in my mental and physical health, as well as for reminding me of particularly good days!

My next spread in the Mental Health section is my 123 Challenges in 2023 spread. I often find it difficult to step out of my comfort zone, so I’m hoping that the prospect of ticking off some challenging actions will provide me with both motivation and positive reinforcement to keep me on track.

We then come to my reference spreads. On the left hand page, I intend to note down a few actions I can take to help myself deal with certain unpleasant feelings and emotions. This spread was inspired by JashiiCorrin on YouTube. On the right hand page, I left a large space to fill with Things I’m Looking Forward To. Sometimes life can get a bit overwhelming, so it’s nice to have somewhere to remind yourself of all the happy things yet to come!

Into the Books & TV section now, which I have decorated with a quote from Dr. Seuss, which felt quite apt.

First up, we have my reading and watching trackers. Pictured above is my TV show tracker. Beside each flower, I will write out the name of a series that I am watching, then, using my pink dot marker, I will make as many dots as there are seasons of the show, ready to be ticked off as I watch them.

My reading tracker is a simple table, with columns for the book title, the date I started the book (S) and the date I finished it (F).

The next double page spread is taken up by my reading challenges for 2023. I have 2 challenges this year: one is to read 5 books that I have been meaning to read for a very long time, my 5 in 2023. Anna Karenina is top of my list this year!

On the right-hand page, I have my Reading Around the World challenge. I’m hoping to branch out into some more diverse fiction, so I plan to track this by colouring in the country that each book is set in after I have read it.

The final double page spread in this section is my To Be Watched and To Be Read, which does exactly what it says on the tin.

Finally, we come to the last section of this 2023 setup: Hobbies & Such. I must confess, I did mean to use the space on the left hand side of this cover page to house a section for jotting down random ideas, but I forgot and stamped in a little quote instead. Ah, well.

The first spread is a project tracker. This is a simple table, where I will write the name of the project in the left hand column, add a pink dot for every 25% of the project I complete in the next column, and then, in the final column, I will tick the project off when it is complete. I first started doing this in November last year, and I really enjoyed having somewhere to keep on top of all my projects.

The next spread reflects my desire to branch out a little with my cooking- I’m aiming to cook 1 new dish a week. As I’m writing this, I have not got off to the best start, but I continue to have the best of intentions. I have a little box to write each new meal in, and spaces on the right-hand side for meal/baking ideas.

The final spread in this 2023 set up is my wish list. Similarly to the 2023 cover page, I cut the individual letters out of brown paper using my craft knife, then used my white pen to decorate them with faux stitching around the edges. I also like to separate my wishlist into categories to keep my thoughts more organised.

Well, there it is. A bit of a mammoth post, but, to be honest, it was a bit of a mammoth setup! Like I said at the beginning, this setup is specifically tailored towards my personal needs and these spreads are ones that I was prepared to spend time making, because I knew how useful they would be to me. I hope this post has given you some ideas for your own bullet journal, or perhaps inspired you to start one. If you do, I’d love to hear about it!



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