A new month means that it’s time for a new theme for my bullet journal. I’ve kept this for nearly two years now. I started it in Jan 2021 when we in lockdown due to Covid and I knew that I was going to retire that Summer. I kept it as a record of how my life changed over that 12 months but the habit has stuck.
I like the arty side of thinking of a theme for the month and designing my pages. They tend to be very simple with copious use of washi tape for weeks when I don’t have much time. If I have lots of time or I’m organised then I will draw or paint to decorate my pages. I’ve done all sorts of different pages over the past 20 months; activity logs for things I’ve done, mood trackers etc but now I’ve just settled on a few pages every month.
As you can see, this month’s theme is Autumn leaves- I never claimed to be particularly original. My weekly spread might include diary entries or it might simply be a list of things to do on given day – I like lists!!!
I like my book double page spread. All I do is list the title and author of every book I read and my star rating. It’s quite nice just to flick back and look at what I read in a particular month and it’s a very quick check if I can’t remember the name of an author sometimes.
I did start off this year by keeping more of a book journal with cover pictures and short reviews but that only lasted about two weeks before I was hopelessly behind so I reverted to just keeping a list.
The last page of every month is a photo page of things we’ve done during the month.
I love being able to flick back through my journal and look at the entries and the photos. It’s a nice low key way of keeping a record of what’s going on in my life.
A friend of mine suggested that I needed to do a cat theme for my bullet journal and as I felt it was time to try something different, I thought about how I could do it. First I needed to practise drawing cats. A quick look on google revealed lots of help for this . A search for cat doodles came up with lots of ideas with one of the best being a blog post by Sweet Planit which you can find here https://www.sweetplanit.com/home/how-to-draw-a-cat. There were also ideas on Instagram from @doodlingashley and @impawfectdoodles. I also decided to cheat a bit and see if there were any cat washi tapes out there. Of course there are! I do try not to use Amazon too much but sometimes it’s just too easy. Once I had my doodles and my cat stickers, I was ready to go.
My set up pages were the same as usual with pages for exercise, books and the other stuff I might do. I mainly used the stickers for the first pages partly because they were quite cute but also I have been really pushed for time this month. June was also a funny month as it started and is going to end mid week so that means two part spreads . If only all months were as well organised as February!
I really liked this idea for a cat based weekly spread. I shamelessly copied it from @doodlingashley on Instagram. It was quick to do as well.
The cat theme was fun and I enjoyed practising how to draw cartoon cats. I’m already planning what is going to be on my July pages.
It’s nearly the end of May and time for a my bullet journal round up as I’ve just finished the final weekly spread for this month. The end of this month has been really busy so one or two weekly spreads have had a bit less time spent on them than some other weeks.
I have tried to keep to a theme or a colour scheme so that each month looks a bit different. This month is flowers and the title page above was inspired by @paperwand in a video I watched as part of sketchbook revival this year.
My monthly set up was exactly the same as the previous few months. I probably need to think about changing it a bit but I like how it looks and the pages work for me. I have my exercise log, my record of what I listen to, watch etc and my record of books that I have read.
We were spoilt by February this year which began on a Monday and ended exactly four weeks later. Each month since then has the dilemma of where do you put the odd days or do you have weeks that begin on other days of the week besides Monday? I decided to begin with a single page spread for the first few days of the month and then squeeze the last 8 days onto one double page. That kept things nice and neat as I’m not sure my brain could have coped with weeks beginning on a Tuesday.
And that’s my journal pages all done and just waiting to be completed now. Now it’s time to start thinking about June. I already have a theme in mind so we’ll see how it works out.
One of the worst things about both the full lockdowns was not being able to go to my local library. I have always read a lot since being a young child and the weekly visit to the library has always been part of my life. I really missed being to go and choose different books every week. It was also very expensive because I had to buy all the books that I wanted to read. As I really didn’t want to spend a fortune, that also meant that I spent a lot of last Spring and Summer rereading books that I already owned.
But now libraries are back open again and, even better, mine is full of brand new books. I spent a blissful half hour last Friday browsing and choosing books. I came out with 8 books, most of which were brand new and it didn’t cost me a penny.
The best thing about getting your books from the library is that you can take chances. You can pick up a book just because you like the cover and if you don’t like it, then you just take it back. Or pick a book because it sounds interesting but then you just don’t fancy reading it. That’s OK too. You can just return it unread.
Library services are continually being cut. My library is still operating but the hours are hugely reduced from what they were years ago. However, libraries are still there and still providing an amazing service. If more people use them, then councils will have a harder time justifying closing them.
Please use your library if you have one. Go and borrow books that you might not like or by authors you have never heard of. Keep the service going because public libraries really are too important to lose.
April is now over so I thought I would share my bullet journal pages for the month gone by. Ideally, I should get the whole month’s pages ready in advance so that I could share them before the month is over but that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. The cover page was inspired by a video session on painting wreaths by Sarah Simon as part of this year’s sketchbook revival.
After having a theme of green leaves for March, I decided for a complete change in April and so just went for a pastel coloured theme inspired by all things Easter. I have a lovely collection of pastel washi tapes as well as some lovely pastel highlighters so it seemed like a good idea to use them.
My first three pages always seem to be the same now. I begin with a page for logging my exercise which definitely does help to make me go out and walk those steps. I hate leaving blank spaces even if I’m the only one who sees them. Then I have my book page where I record the books I read. This started off as part of a page but that wasn’t nearly enough room. Finally I have my activity page where I put my music, art etc. The format of these pages stays the same and it’s just the decoration and colour scheme that changes. Maybe I need to be more adventurous with this part of my journal.
I do try to make each weekly spread different. I tend to alternate between having rows that go right across the page and blocks where I have two columns on each page. I think that generally I prefer the rows so might just stick to that at some point.
I’m still loving my bullet journal journey. Creating the pages and looking at other people’s examples is a lovely relaxing way to spend a few quiet minutes every week end. And because the pages are pretty, there is a real incentive to complete something every day.
I’ve kept my bullet journal for three months now, that’s a quarter of the year so it seemed like a good time for a review.
I have really enjoyed creating the pages for my journal. It’s been a lovely way to relax. I have also ended up spending a lot more time on social media as I have looked at examples of people’s journals on pinterest and google. None of my pages are breath taking or desperately original but they have given me pleasure both to create and to look at once they have all been completed.
I have also enjoyed the accountability that my journal has created. I’ve got a page each month to log the exercise that I take and on at least three occasions, I have gone out for a walk so that I didn’t have a blank space on my page. That however, didn’t stop the odd blank space in March due to 12 hour days in school.
My pages are a combination of drawing and washi tape. It would be easy to spend a fortune on reels of tape but I have contented myself with just a couple of sets from Amazon. They do add a dash of colour and detail to the pages and mean that I can create a pretty page even when I don’t have much time.
I’ve also chosen a different colour scheme for each month so that each one looks different. January was mainly blue and grey, February pink and purple, March was leaves and green and April is pastel colours.
These are some of my pages so far in my journal.
So far my journal has been a record of what I have done, read, watched and listened to. I’ve also kept a note of Covid news as I feel it’s important to record it for myself. This year is going to be a year unlike any other as I retire and I’m looking forward to continuing to record it.
How do you use your journal? Let me know if you have a blog as I love to see what other people are doing.
On Sunday this week, I randomly came across a post on my twitter feed that showed a picture of a bullet journal. I had never heard of them before but I’m always interested in journals that combine art and writing so I investigated. Several hours later, I had looked at Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and spent over £30 on a new journal, pens and some pretty washi tape (I’ve always wanted some but never knew what to use it for).
Since my journal arrived on Monday, there seems to have been a real explosion of interest and a whole community is developing on Twitter with the hashtag #journalingteacher thanks to @CassHT and others. I guess that it’s partly because it’s a new year but there also seems to be a real desire and interest in creating something individual and artistic as well as keep a record of the year to come.
From reading articles and watching videos, there doesn’t seem to be any set idea about what a bullet journal is. It can be what you make it I think. Some seem to be mainly used as planners for work and home, others are trackers for emotions, exercise logs, diaries or a combination of all of them.
This seems to me to be a good year to begin a journal for two reasons: The first is that it will be interesting to record how we move out of our current situation. The infection rate is dire at the moment but the vaccines are now here so hopefully, there will be an end to restrictions before too long. The other is that this is the year that I retire. In July I will retire from teaching after 30 years and so a journal that can also be a planner seems like something that I might need come September. I’m not at all sure how I’m going to fill my time so having a planner may well come in useful
I’m looking forward to filling my pages with books, walks done and lots of lovely decoration and hopefully, at the end of December 2021 I will be able to look back on a healthy, happy year.