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  • Writer's pictureAmy Blossom

How To Set Up Your Bullet Journal for the New Year

It’s that time of year again.... getting ready for the New Year!

It's another year to track, list, write down your thoughts, and get organized!!!

For years I have kept a journal of sorts. But in January of 2016 I started using a bullet journal. My life went from pretty organized (I have always been a list person and kept things in order, for the most part) to really organized. When I started this form of journaling and tracking, I noticed that I got so much more done and the items on my to-do list were crossed off more than ever.


Maybe you can relate to this.... as I get older, I find that it's important for me to write things down so that I don't forget what I need to do or forget things that are coming up, whatever it may be, so this journal helps to serve as my second brain.

I am a little more unconventional with my bullet journal than some people surely are; I love to draw with pretty colors and make notes in different places, so it’s not a “professional” looking journal, but it is all me and I love it that way.

So….. I am very regimented in how I do things, and each bullet journal that I have looks somewhat similar in the layout. Over the past few years I have adjusted things and moved things with each journal, and I am finally set with my layout from 2018 and will continue for 2019.

There are so many posts and pins about setting up your journal and I love to read how other people organize their journals. There are some awesome ideas out there, but remember, this is your journal and what you do with it depends on your taste, your ideas, and what suits your life.



First of all, I want to say that there are many kinds of journals that you can use. The prices vary for sure, and I have bought a lot of them. For me, I love journals with a lot of lined pages, simply because I want to fit a full year in each journal. Here is a link to the journals that I have been using for the last 2½ years. They are lined and have 160 pages and the best part is they are under $5.00. I have been able to fit everything for the entire year in each one. Also, the pages are pretty thick so there is minimal to no bleeding through the pages. And, they come in bright colors!

colorful journals

I also keep a pen holder on the cover so I am never searching for my favorite pens. The pen holder in the picture on my purple journal is one that I created for myself. If you like it, I have some here in different patterns that you can purchase. They are so handy and will fit any size journal because they are made with elastic. I also have binder clip pen holders that i created here. They will hold one or two pens if that’s more your style.

I also use many different accessories like pretty clips with bows and bookmarks. And of course, I make my own. If you like that idea there are some examples here and here.

So, now on to the setup.....



The first thing I do is number my journal pages at least to page 30 for now and finish at a later time. I always number in the upper corners of the pages. This comes in handy when you start creating your index. It is so much easier to find what you are looking for by keeping an index (more on that later).

The next thing that I do is write my favorite quote on the very first page of my new journal:

Inside cover of journal

On the inside cover, I also write a quote and add a little card that has page numbers for entries that I may want to reference in my last year’s journal. I attached the card with washi tape on one side so that I can flip it and write on the back if I need to.

The next 2 pages are where I keep a notes page and my index page. On my index page, I list the page numbers first and then what is written on the corresponding pages. I love having the index because any time I want to find something that I have written between the covers of my journal is right at my fingertips.

As you can see below, I have only added the first 7 pages to my index so far. Pages 2-6 are my goals for the New Year. You can read my blog post on how I set my goals here. I write down all of my goals for the upcoming year and add to them as I need to. I also keep a notes page at the end of my goal entries just to keep the space open and write down any ideas or notes that I have during the year.

Next, I start my monthly entries. For the sake of this post, I will show you the first two weeks of January but I do try to get at least 3 months’ worth of days written down before January 1st. I have tried many different ways to do this and I have finally settled on putting a full blank calendar folded in half so that I can open it for my full monthly layout. Here is a copy of the blank calendar template that I use. I print it out and cut it down to a size that fits on the page.

Here are 6 copies of the blank calendars. I leave everything blank and fill them in as I complete the layout before the month starts. I do this because I never know what colors I may want to use. Download blank calendar template here.

Blank Calendar Template

So for January 2019 I decided on teal and completed my calendar and then folded it in half. I am going to attach it with double-sided tape on page 8 so that it will open up full inside the journal (not hanging off the left side). Placement depends which side you are attaching the calendar. I add washi tape to decorate it and put a little tab on the side to open it. On the blank side when closed is where I write down my goals or to-do list for the month; these are simple things that I want reminded of every time I open it up to the month. This calendar serves as my month-at-a-glance.

This is what it looks like finished - closed and opened:

Sometimes I will start the very next page with my daily to-do lists, but this year I decided to use the first blank page as my journaling and notes page. I always make sure to write down anything that happens or how I’m feeling on this page. A lot of people keep a mood tracker, but I don’t. I just like to write down my overall thoughts for the month.

On the next pages I start my daily to-do’s. These are the most important pages for me as this is where my organized life happens! A lot of people start their week with Monday, but in my mind, I just cannot bring myself to do that. I always start with Sunday and go from there. But I say…whatever works for you!

My layouts are not fancy, but I do like my colors and my washi tape. I don’t have a key or a color-coding system, just a check mark when I complete a task and a circle if I don’t get to it. So here are my first two weeks’ layouts:

I always make sure to add a small box in the lower right hand corner of every week layout so that I can write down what I am grateful for. This is a small daily reminder that every day there is something to be grateful for. I like to make sure that I am looking for the every-day blessings.

So that's it....It really is so simple. Plus, it is yours - your design, your taste, your set-up, your life. And I promise you, if you are looking for a way to organize your life, I completely recommend starting a bullet journal. I love mine and I promise that once you start using one, you will love it too!

Have a great and organized year!!



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