Many people get into a routine with their bullet journal. It’s quick, it’s easy and we can move on and keep being productive. I find after a while of doing the same thing, I start to get bored. Let’s break down the idea of a monthly log and see where we can freshen up your look and get you inspired again! Mix and match these ideas to come up with your own custom layout!
This is the first post of a new how-to series! I hope you enjoy!
The Foundation of a Monthly Log
The most significant component of the monthly log is, of course, layout out dates for you to fill out. There are many ways you can do this and here are the pro’s and cons that I’ve learned along the way.
Traditional Calendar Layout
The tried-and-true calendar style layout is a great option for your monthly log, especially if you’re new to bullet journaling. It’s simple to set up, it’s fast and you really don’t need to be artistic to do it. All you need is a pen and a ruler, though hand-drawn lines also look raw and nice!
While a traditional calendar week begins on Sundays, I do prefer starting my weeks on Mondays. Personally, the majority of my tasks and events happen throughout the week. I tend to make my Saturday and Sunday spaces smaller because I just don’t need the space. This layout is incredibly easy to read, easy to follow and it’s that look we’re all familiar with. I love seeing the days of the week laid out on the page and you always know what day it is! I actually did have a hard time with this layout in my Leuchtturm for a few reasons. The first reason is that if I squeeze it onto a single page, the boxes are simply too small to be efficient. The second reason is that when I do stretch it across a full spread, the layout is slightly awkward at the spine. I’ve seen monthly logs that actually have a day split between the pages but I can’t imagine doing that myself, it would be incredibly awkward to write! For my January 2018 spread, I put 4 days on one page and 3 days on the other. It worked out, but I still feel like the calendar is awkwardly blocked off and just doesn’t look quite right to me. My last thought on this one is that I found that I just didn’t have much space to write in these boxes, though it wouldn’t be an issue if you’re not an extensive user of your monthly! Check out my January Setup post to see the full details.
Pro: Easy to read and follow
Con: Can be awkward across a full spread
The ladder-style layout is very easy to set up, and there are countless ways to customize it! All you need to do is write each day of the month vertically (or horizontally to give it some flair!) down the page. You can put these dates on the far left with all your content on the right, put it in the middle and separate items on the left and right (business vs. personal for example) or put the dates on the right just to do something different!
I feel like I always have more space to write when I use this type of layout but sometimes I do get thrown off trying to figure out what day it is! There are a few ways around this. You can write initials for the weekdays alongside the dates, you can use lines to separate weeks, highlight weekends or you can do a combination of these! Overall, I would say that this is my preferred layout for my monthly logs. Check out my Hello February post to see the full details.
This style monthly log tends to be a bit easier when you’d like to incorporate habit trackers or a gratitude log as well! More details on that in a bit.
Pro: More space to write
Con: Not as easy to read
Mini Calendar with List
This layout is a nice hybrid between the traditional calendar layout and the ladder-style. Essentially, you layout your calendar for the month with no space to write. I find most people use a 4 square block for each of these numbers but obviously, it’s completely your choice! Below the mini calendar is where you can list dates and write your appointments, birthdays, etc.
This style was tough for me. On the one hand, I loved the look of it. It was simple, clean, easy to follow yet also had a ladder element to it. The downfall for me was writing the dates below. I started my month knowing birthdays and a couple other things, but after writing the initial entries, anything else that might be added later is numerically out of order and honestly, that drove me nuts! As long as you don’t mind the numbers potentially out of order, then this is a really nice option.
Pro: Easy calendar view
Con: Numerically out of order
It’s funny. I’ve seen calendar wheels a lot on Instagram, and I even sell printables in my Etsy shop, but I’ve never actually done one myself! *Hint hint for March’s edition of Plan With Me!* I think they look absolutely beautiful and it’s such a fun way to change things up!
Essentially, you draw a couple circles, divide it into the number of days in that month and this becomes your template! This can easily be adapted to include things like habit trackers, weather, etc.
My struggle with this style would be pulling out the lines to note appointments. Decade Thirty does a fabulous job as you can see, it looks beautiful and it’s so different than any other monthly log I’ve done!
Pro: Super fresh, fun layout
Con: Can be difficult to set up
The Extra Details
Let’s face it, most people don’t just do a simple monthly log on their page and nothing more. Usually, you add some special touches to make it yours! Here are a few options for you to spice up your monthly!
This one is a pure classic. Whether it’s in your monthly log, weekly or you have a year in pixels, I find that most people in this community use a habit tracker in some form in their bullet journal. The concept is easy: Write out your list of habits you would like to track and have the spaces to check them off as you go. This can be applied daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, basically, any way you want.
Common habits to track include cleaning routines, self-care, daily moods, weather, and countless other options. You can do anything you want here! I once even had a reminder to eat all my meals in the day, because when things get busy in my home daycare, I tend to forget about myself!
This is a new one for me. In my first bullet journal, I lacked the discipline of filling anything out daily. I didn’t think I would keep up with it, and didn’t want to be left with either blank spots or be struggling to remember what happened on each of those days! Now that I’ve gotten more consistent, I decided to try it out for February and I’m enjoying it so far! I also added a twist to mine: I called it Grind and Gratitude so that I can vent something that’s frustrating me on the condition that I follow it up with a positive. I’m hoping it will help clear my head of negative thoughts because I’m balancing it toward positivity.
To-Do’s and What’s on the Horizon
I love having a space to show items that aren’t due on a certain day but I know I need to get done within the month. It’s easy to forget what’s coming up if you don’t have a place to keep that information. This was a big struggle for me in the past. I would tell my husband I was going to design an ad for him but until he gave me the information for it, I couldn’t do much and we didn’t have a deadline in mind. There were a few that he was interested in designing and I kept having to ask what they were about. Now, I jot it down in my horizon and break it down into tasks. If it winds up not getting a deadline that month, at least I have the information to bring it over to the next month!
You know what they say: a dream will remain a dream unless you take the steps to achieve it. Having a monthly goal is a great habit to get into. It can motivate you to convert those dreams into reality. I’ve seen people create goals as simple as remembering to stay positive and I’ve seen specific goals like completing a 30-day fitness challenge. It can be anything you choose but it can be that extra pump to get you through the month!
A Monthly Mix and Match!
I’m sure there are about a million other options that I haven’t shown you here today, and I would love to see what you’ve got! Creating a monthly spread can be daunting as a beginner and the best advice I can pass along to you is to try not to take on too much at once. When I first started bullet journaling, one of my first monthly logs had a habit tracker with about 8 items plus a gratitude log and weather tracking. I think I only made it four or five days before I stopped filling it out. When I first started my bullet journal, my consistency was absolutely not there. It was a new system, a new idea to get myself organized and it took about a year for me to turn bullet journaling into a true habit. The better I got at laying out my ideas, the more addicted I was to it and it’s always exciting to open my notebook! It’s because of my sheer enjoyment that it has really caught on!
Take your time, try to do either one or a large combination of what you’ve seen here, and don’t forget to share your thoughts! Tag me in your monthly logs on Instagram at @as_a_rye so I can see your progress!