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Kaitlin's 2021 Annual Review Process

  • 6 min read

Hi everyone! Kaitlin Grey here from the Youtube channel Kaitlin Grey and Instagram @itskaitlingrey.

Today I’m excited to share my annual review framework that I do each year in my bullet journal. I’ll be breaking my review process into steps so feel free to follow along when you’re doing your own yearly review, or take what you like and customize these steps into your own personal concoction!

My review has two key parts, my life review and my bullet journal review. Both these reviews help guide me in setting intentions as well as figuring out how I want to set up my bullet journal for the new year. 

Life Review

First, let’s dive into the annual life review. This is where I look inward and think about what happened during the year and what I want to do in the next year. To give myself some structure and make the whole process less overwhelming, I like to answer the questions I’ve listed below

  • What happened in 2021? 

  • What did I learn? 

  • What did I accomplish? 

  • What do I want to leave in 2021? 

  • What do I want to bring into 2022? 

  • Physical check in: How did I feel this year and how am I feeling now?

  • Mental check in: How did I feel this year and how am I feeling now?

I have the memory of a grasshopper, so when answering these questions I like to flip through my bullet journal and base my answers off my monthly and weekly reviews, monthly logs, and task lists.

I also really like finishing off my life review with a physical and mental check in because I believe that one of the best ways to set effective intentions is to first know how much energy you have to give to those intentions! I find this also applies to planning a new bujo setup, because if I’m feeling really mentally drained and low energy going into the new year, I may consider simplifying my setup, or adding in creative elements that are forms of self care.  Here’s an example of one key takeaway I found with my life review from this year! 

What do you want to leave in 2021? 

  • Clutter, mental clutter, clutter in my journal, and physical clutter in my space. I want to leave behind this notion that I always need to buy the newest thing and instead appreciate what I own and just think less about material things. 

This reflection revealed a couple insights for me, which I ended up expanding into a couple goals and intentions for the new year (one corresponding goal was making amendments to my budget and really focusing on conscious consumption and buying new things because the old things are worn out and unusable!). I also kept this answer in mind when working on my bullet journal review and migration because I realized that I wanted my journal to be less cluttered and more simplistic going into the new year. 


Bullet Journal Review 

Once I have a clear idea of what I want to bring into the next year and how I’m feeling, I like to get super analytical and review my bullet journal. In this part of my review I focus on looking at how well my bujo worked for me and what I need it to do for me going forward. I promise this sounds more intense than it is and *bonus* this is the part where you get to flip through all your notebook pages! 

Step 1. Review the old journal 

Flipping through my journal, I take note of my yearly collections, monthly logs, daily logs and other collections. One a separate piece of paper I make a table and sort my spreads into these categories 

    - What worked 

    - What didn’t work 

Depending on how detailed I want to be, I’ll sometimes note what specifically didn’t work about a collection as a nested note under the collection name like this: 

    What didn’t work 

    - recipe log 

        - didn’t have separate space for writing down recipes I wanted to make and recipes I wanted to write out and keep

This step really helps me figure out what spreads I want to carry into my new journal as well as which spreads may need tweaking before going into the new journal

Step 2. Clarify your journal’s purpose 

This is definitely the most important step in this whole process. As someone who doesn’t like to spend a ton of time setting up a new journal, I really only want to invest time into collections that are meaningful and I find this step really helps me figure out which spreads matter and which aren’t as vital. Here are the questions I ask myself that help me clarify my journal’s purpose: 

    - How did my journal help me this year?

    - What information did I include in my journal?

    - What information did I not include in my journal?

A big part of purpose, in my opinion, is knowing where your boundaries are. I find this is key to establish before getting excited and looking up different spread ideas because I find if I don’t set limits on what I do and don’t need, I generally end up with spreads like a cat health tracker in my journal… even though I don’t own a cat. 

Step 3. Create a migration plan 

We have now arrived at the migration phase of our review, aka. figuring out what stuff we want to move into our new journal. This step is exciting and way easier to do now that we’ve established our journal’s purpose, and what worked and didn’t work for us in the previous year. For my migration plan I like to keep things simple and make a list of the following things: 

- Spreads I want to keep (spreads I want to move over from my previous journal)

These tend to stay pretty consistent for my from year to year and include spreads like my alastair method future log, monthly log and task list, daily logs and weekly task list

- Spreads I want to remove (spread I don’t want to migrate into my new journal)

One spread I already know I’m not bringing into 2022 is my plant watering tracker. I realized this spread didn’t work for me because I barely used it and I realized that I don’t really care about knowing when my plants are watered, just that they are alive and well!

- Spread I want to change (spreads I want to modify before moving over) 

This is where I’ll write down spreads like my recipe log, which I tagged as not working well in my journal review exercise

- Spreads I want to add (new spread I haven’t tried before)

I usually will base spreads I want to add on my life review, along with my goals for the new year. In 2022 I want to continue my goal of getting outside and going on weekly hikes, so in order to help myself achieve that goal, I’ll be adding a TBH (to be hiked) collection where I can write down all the places I want to visit. I also write down:

    - What I want to do more of in my journal next year

    This can be really literal, like doing more drawing, or painting, or more abstract, doing more things in my journal practise that help me feel calm. One of my answers to this prompt is that I want to incorporate more photo journaling and memory keeping in my bujo so I have a record of all the hikes and places I’ve been during the year. 

    - What I want to do less of in my journal next year 

    Again, this one can be literal or abstract, my answer this year tends to be on the abstract side, I want to do less decorating in my journal and appreciate the beauty of simplicity. 

And that’s my full annual review process! I hope by going over my own process, this post may have given you some guidance on how you can do your own review, or it gave you some ideas for how you can design your very own custom review process. At the end of the day the best review is the one that works for you, and same goes for your bullet journal! So if you take anything from this post, I hope you remember that.  

I hope you all have a wonderful new year and I hope you have fun setting up your new journals!

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