Bullet Journaling & Aesthetics

I have never been an aesthetic girlie when it comes to my journalling. It’s always been functional. Sketchy. Of the moment. While I have a number of coloured pens and highlighters and washi tape, I can’t say I use them overmuch. I don’t need my journal to be pretty to appreciate what it does for me, mentally.

I’m not going to sit down and measure out the curve of the “f” in the large “fuck” I write on the page when I’m expressing my frustration. It’s not how my brain works. I’m very much the “rapid” part of “rapid logging.”

I’m also inconsistent with journalling. Somewhat massively so. For example, in 2023, I didn’t journal regularly in March, September or October. That’s also part of the reason I’m not starting a new journal fresh for 2024 — I’m less than halfway through the pages in the Leuchtturm I bought at the beginning of 2023, and I hate to see waste, particularly when it comes to stationary and books.

Why do I bullet journal?

So if I’m so inconsistent, why do I bullet journal? Because everything in life comes in phases, right? Ebbs and flows, highs and lows. Sometimes either I’m in a good mental state and can keep track of things, other times I’m travelling, other times I’m over-stressed and can’t manage the self-care.

But for me, bullet journaling isn’t quite the medatative thing it can be for other folks. For me, honestly, it’s mostly functional. I have an external brain most of the time, and I haven’t found a digital solution that’s quite like writing things down by hand and keeping track of them in one place.

So what do I include in my bullet journal?

To a certain extent I follow bullet journal principles. I have an annual spread and annual pages. I have monthly “intros” that I wouldn’t call pretty enough for a spread. And I do daily task lists, much of the time.

My annual pages in 2023 include:

  • 2023 at a glance: I include here commitments or timings I’m already aware of. Typically public holidays and when school term breaks are (my partner works in schools, so it’s especially relevant)
  • A mood tracker (which was promptly abandoned in the beginning of March)
  • A medical history reference: I had this in a 2017 or 2018 journal when I sat down with my mother and got the debrief, but I kept forgetting what year it was and I didn’t want to lose it, so now I copy it into every new journal)
  • A savings tracker I never used
  • A doctors appointment tracker
  • A weight tracker, specifically for managing my PCOS
  • A general personal wishlist
  • Booktok and Bookstagram books that sound interesting and/or smutty enough to read
  • A skincare tracker (again, somewhat abandoned)
  • A house stuff wishlist
  • A books read list (currently at 78, without updating the end of Nov and Dec thusfar)
  • A book releases list
  • A video game tracker
  • A shows and movies tracker

In 2024, I think I’ll keep most of these lists — even abandoned, they serve some purpose. I also think I want to expand my annual trackers a bit broader. Not sure if I can be asked to do somewhat passive trackers like weather or temperature, but might do sleep or big annual pages for habits, rather than repeating them monthly and not being able to see overall progress.

If you’re new to bullet journaling

If you’re new to bullet journaling, the biggest piece of advice I’d give you is to be kind to yourself. I still don’t journal every day, and still don’t journal perfectly. I don’t use a ruler, I make (and keep) my mistakes on the page. And finally, make it your own. Don’t feel like you have to keep to the default method of bujo, it’s a starting point.

What are your plans for a 2024 bullet journal spread?


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