Fresh starts and new bullet journals

Evelyn Alt

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The+main+spreads+at+the+beginning+of+my+2023+bullet+journal

The main spreads at the beginning of my 2023 bullet journal

Blank calendars, fresh starts, and new bullet journals are my favorite things each new year brings.

Starting the new year with a clean bullet journal is a fantastic way to gain motivation for the year to come. Bullet journaling can be anything from an organizational tool to help you stay productive throughout the year to a fun and artsy way of keeping track of your goals and accomplishments. 

While trying to start a brand new bullet journal can be intimidating, once you get started, it is the perfect way to kick off the new year and set the tone for upcoming seasons. 

The most important thing to keep in mind when starting a bullet journal is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. I struggle with this, especially at the beginning of the year. Usually, I tend to have a difficult time starting the first page because I don’t want to mess it up. I have to remind myself of the reason I love bullet journaling in the first place.

Make your journal how you want it to be, and the mistakes you will inevitably make only go to show that you are creating something distinctly your own.”

The whole point of having a bullet journal instead of a regular calendar is so you can create something that keeps you motivated and excited about the upcoming month. The last thing making one should be doing is adding to your stress level. You want to make a bullet journal that is fun and useful to you, not just one that looks like the picture-perfect pages posted on Pinterest. 

Bullet journaling is a very individual thing. What is put in your journal should be useful and entertaining for you, and those things won’t be the same for everyone. That being said, it can be hard to figure out exactly what you want to put in your journal, so here are some ideas to help you out. Most of these spreads are “yearly spreads,” or things that have to do with the entire year, not just one month. However, there are a few ideas that could be used as either. 

Up first is the title page. This is probably the most obvious one, and most people create this spread at the beginning of the year as well as one for each month. This is the page that sets the theme for the rest of the month. You can decide on the color scheme and design pattern that you think goes along with the month, or just something you think would look good. This is one of the most fun and easiest spreads to make because there’s no pressure to make it match the rest of your bullet journal.

Another page I put at the beginning of my journal is a “year at a glance” page. For this page, I make a mini calendar for each month so I can see the whole year on one page. While, of course, there is no pressure to be perfect, one thing you might want to keep in mind while making this spread is that it is super easy to mess up the month and feel like you’ve ruined the whole page. So just remember to always write the days in pencil first, and make sure you’re looking at a calendar for reference. This spread is great for when you have something coming up in months that you haven’t made bullet journal spreads for yet. You can jot down a note on the page, and then come back and look at it when you are making that month’s calendar. 

One of my favorite pages to make every year is my “goals for the year” spread. How you create the design for this spread varies from person to person based on what works best for them. You can break it up into sections of your life, write down focused goals, only write major ones for the year, or just have the page open for a “brain dump” page to write down whatever goals you want without worrying about the logistics. 

As someone who reads quite a bit, a spread that I always include at the beginning of my bullet journal is my “yearly library.” To start, sketch out a bunch of bookshelves on the page. On these bookshelves, I draw in stacks of books that I will later fill in with the title of every book I finish. I love looking back on this page later in the year and reminding myself of the books I read. I also have a color-coded key for this page that I color the books in with. Whether I like or dislike the book, I’ll color it in with the corresponding color. I know that not everyone enjoys reading, so you can use this spread for pretty much anything. You could make it of movies and tv shows you watched, new music you listened to, or even places you visited that year. 

And last but not least, this is the only page that is more fun at the end of the year than at the beginning. It’s my “dear future me” letter. This is the most simple page to make and barely requires any skill at all. All I do for this page is tape in a sealed envelope that has a letter I write in it. At the end of the year, I get to go back and reread the letter one year later. This is one of my favorite things to do because it shows me how much I’ve grown and changed, but also how much I’m still the same person I was when I began the year. 

Although it may not seem like it, you don’t need to be artistic or creative to create a good bullet journal. You should be making it for yourself, and that won’t always look the same as someone else’s. Looking for inspiration on Pinterest, Instagram, and TikTok is great, and can be super helpful, but don’t get too carried away in the perfection of it. 

My biggest tip for starting a bullet journal is that if you ever feel more stressed than relaxed while making it, put it down and take a break. Bullet journaling is a motivating and creative way to help you stay organized throughout the year. Make your journal how you want it to be, and the mistakes you will inevitably make only go to show that you are creating something distinctly your own.