I realised that I haven’t written a Bullet Journal update in a while and a new year is always a good time to have a look back and share my latest set-up. I started using a bullet journal in 2016 to help me cope better with never ending to-do lists and in 2020 it was one thing that helped me keep a routine and some form of normality. You can read about my previous posts in the BuJo section of my blog. A journal lasts me six months so I have two per year: January to June and July to December.

For 2021 I’m keeping layouts and set-ups that I like and that I have amended and adjusted over the years, but I’m also trying some new things to see if/how they might work for me. This flexibility is one the main reasons for using a bullet journal rather than a pre-made layout.

This year I’m ditching my colour dot index as I never really keep up with it – I will use post-it index stickers as I go and mark the month pages for quick navigation. I start my journal with a 6 months overview where I add birthdays, annual leave etc. I also have an overview for July to December to keep an eye on things before the new journal starts.

Overview from January to June. Each month has a column over a double page. The weekends are highlighted with the colour of the month.

My overview is follow by one the most valuable trackers – my MS-IS-29 score. This impact scale is used to measure perceived impact of MS symptoms by the person with MS. Click here to download a pdf version from the MS Trust website.

MS-IS-29 overview. 29 questions about different things my MS could impact. A column for each month from January to June. And a scale legend. 1: Not at all, 2: little/sometimes, 3: Moderate, 4: quite bit, 5: extremely.

My neurologist suggested I use this once a month to keep an eye on my MS. I’m not sure he envisaged me using this for four years and counting. I started in January 2017 – three months after my diagnosis and have kept track ever since. I copy the score into an excel sheet to keep log-term track as well. Having four years of data like this has been quite interesting and I will write another posts about this soon.

The next valuable tracker for me is my running log. I started running again in 2017, six months after my MS diagnosis and it has since become a big part of my treatment plan. After an injury in late 2019, I started 2020 slow. I don’t really chase targets but it’s a good motivation to get out. I hope to complete a big running challenge this year (postponed from 2020) and I started working with a coach. It will be nice to track my progress this way.

Running log. Left hand side has a box for each week from week 1 to 26 where I can track accumulative km. The right hand side has a table with a column for each week day, weekly total and comments to rack running in more detail. It says Just keep running above the table.
6 months habit tracker. column for each month with the option to track 8 habits. The trackers is currently empty.

The running log is follow by a habit tracker. My habit trackers have changed a lot in my journals and this is a new layout for me. I think seeing all six months in one overview will be really nice. The columns allow for some flexibility but I will have to track the same things each month for comparison. I haven’t decide what to focus on yet, which is why the columns are still empty.

Another new things in this journal is my commitment inventory – I came across this way to prioritise my projects when I did the ToDoist Productivity tool quiz and the inventory was my recommendation. The blog post was very detailed and the approach really appealed to me (Click to read ToDoist Commitment Inventory blog post).

Work commitment layout. Left it says Work Wok in pink highlighter. Right is a weekly schedule with boxes for every 30min from 8am to 6pm. The schedule is currently empty.

However I amended it to focus on work and my official work hours. The plan is to list all my work projects due in the next three to six months and then allocate them fixed weekly time slots, using the ideal week calendar to help me plan. I then copy the time slots into my work calendar to protect at least some of the time from meeting etc. Knowing how much I have going on and how much time I can allocate to it really helps me plan delivery dates and long-term project milestones. It’s a bit brutal but if like me you easily overcommit, I highly recommend this approach.

To keep an eye on the details for each of my projects I’m using this project planner layout, I found online. This allows me to plan things and have all my projects in one place at the start of the journal. Since a journal lasts six months, I think six projects are enough. Should I run out of space I can always add another project planner page later on.

Project planner layout. Different sized boxes to help pan a project e.g. Summary, Key objectives, Targets, Support, Actions, Milestones and wins.

And after all this my journal actually starts. I use a monthly overview page – mostly to highlight the start of the month as I can mark this page with a sticker. This helps with navigation later on. Over the years I have come to love the weekly layout. This works best for me and has become a big part of my planning. At the weekend I draw up the new week and then use my allocated time slots to plan what I can realistically achieve that week to move my projects forward. Adding the times and colour coded highlights for the different tasks makes this a very valuable part of my work week.

Month of January with a box for each day layer out like a calendar by week. The numbers for each day are coloured in pale purple in each box.

This is my 2021 January to June bullet journal – It’s not the most creative one and that’s fine by me. I admire the creativity of other BuJo users but the beauty of this format is that you make it the way it works for you. And for me straight lines, stencil work and colours are enough.