Over the past 4.5 years of keeping a Bullet Journal, I keep my journals going until I run out of pages and it’s rare that it coincides with a new year, but this year is different. With only a handful of pages left for 2021, I am reflecting on my current bullet journal and planning for my 8th Bujo.
No matter what, new journal or not, I always take time to reflect on my year before starting the next year. To prepare for a new year, I like to make a collection page called “New Year Review” where I split a page and list what worked and what didn’t work in that year’s journal.
After I make this collection page, I start in the front of my journal and flip through each page. I take a moment to look it over and make a note if the pages worked or didn’t. Not every page I look over makes it onto my list. I usually write the extremes – it worked well and I want to keep it or it didn’t work at all and I don’t need to try it again. What worked is usually a quick list. With what didn’t work, I like to take a little bit of time and write a note on why it didn’t work. Sometimes I find that I give into the Instagram machine and I try to make pages that I think people will like or recreate pages that I see and think are good ideas that I don’t usually keep for myself. They all come with good intentions, but that doesn’t mean that they are the best for me - but you don’t know until to try.
Here is my list of what did and didn't work for me in 2021:
Weekly overview pages with room for daily rapid logging
Instagram and Youtube trackers
Monthly calendar overview pages
Monthly cover pages for creativity
New Year Goal and Objective page
Work program collection pages
These are all things that I will be taking with me into my new journal (or a new year if I was in the same journal).
What Didn’t Work:
Monthly goals page
While there was a good intention of keeping these, I never kept up with them and in some cases never filled them out. I don’t work on monthly goals, which is why this may not have worked for me.
Trying to contain a whole day in a box versus leaving room for what I might need.
Overview containers work well for me, but I found that limiting myself to a daily box was constricting and most of the time I had to work beyond the box to fit my full day.
Not making dedicated project collection pages
This year I tried to keep my weekly to-dos and project needs in my daily logs versus making a dedicated collection page. I found that I felt more disorganized and my notes felt scattered all over the page.
What didn’t work doesn’t always mean that it was a complete waste or disaster. Sometimes, it might be something that needs to be adjusted to work better in the future. For example, I will still keep daily notes and tasks in my journal - but for long-term projects, I will make a separate collection to keep my notes together. Acknowledging this and reflecting helps me think through the problem and work towards a different solution.
There are some pages in my bujo that did work well for me but that I might not need in my next journal. For example, from January through October of this year I held a job where I had direct reports. For each person, I dedicated a page for one-on-one conversations. In my new role, I don’t have direct reports, so those 1:1 pages for each person are not going to be needed. They worked for me then, but now I won’t require them. I make mental notes of these pages because things change and I might need something like that in the future.
Before I take my next step and start setting up my journal, I like to reread The Bullet Journal Method. This isn’t some plug for the book just because I am writing this here. I legit love going back and rereading all, or parts, of the book to refresh my brain. It’s easy to get lost in your head or in what you are seeing online. A refresher on the core collection pages or how to be more intentional is all I need sometimes.
Now that I have this collection page and my reflection, written or mental notes, then I can start to think about starting my new bullet journal. My next steps would be to start with my core collection pages (index, future log, monthly overview, daily/or weekly) and then start to add the collection pages that I need and identified on my yearly reflection page. Not every idea will be a collection page. Some are just reminders for myself. For example, I found that having a weekly overview helped me plan for work and my projects, but that I needed room for daily, unrestricted, rapid logging and notetaking space. This will show up in my weekly page setups and throughout the year.
I have always said that you need to make your bullet journal work for you, not work for it. If at any point you feel like you are stressed out by keeping a bullet journal then it’s time to take a step back. Don’t stop, but just take a moment to remember why you are doing this in the first place. Simple reflections are great ways to breathe and think about what is happening in your approach. Taking a step back and looking at your bullet journal at this higher level is super important so that you can learn to recalibrate yourself and be successful in your new year and/or new journal or at any point throughout the year.
I hope that you found my process helpful! If you'd like to check out more of my work, you can find me online @Menwhobullet on Instagram and Youtube. You can also check out my blogs and other content on my website, www.MenWhoBullet.com