2017 Bullet Journal Setup

I am so late at getting this up on the blog due to travel, illness, and the start of another semester. However, I am really excited about my spread for this year and am pumped to share it with you!

First off, I did a big no-no in the bullet journal world. I did not start in a new journal. I had not filled mine up since I only use it during school and didn’t start it at the beginning of last year. It seemed awful to waste so much space, so I just continued on. I do highly recommend a fresh start though.

Here are some of the items I use in my bullet journal:

  • Tombow dual brush pens (featured image)
  • Micron 05 pens
  • Faber-Castell assorted artist pen set
  • Stabilo fine pens
  • Prismacolor Premier dual brush pen
  • Washi tape
  • Water colors
  • Fun sticky notes



My first page of the year is a plain old calendar. This is for quick reference and makes a good cover page for the year.


My second section is the calendex, just like most of the bullet journal pros. This allows me to know ahead of time what each month looks like and keep track of the major events I have in them so I don’t double book. I make sure each month has ample space because  I tend to get very busy very fast.


I tried something new for my next page. I did a 2016 year in review. This is kind of to see what my biggest battles were and what I learned from them. I had a rough year, but it wasn’t a bad year. And what I learned has the ability to make this year even better.

I took the review and used it to help guide my goals for 2017. I created three categories (personal, spiritual and relational) and created a few goals within them. I also have some room where I can add to this as the year goes on.


Next, my Level 10 Life spread returns. This idea comes from Boho Berry (one of my favorite bullet journal Instagram accounts). It allows you to assess ten different areas in your life and create goals for how to improve them. The cool thing is that I have mine from last year and could really look at them and think about the progress (or not) that I have made. I ditched the circle design (circles are hard) and went for a bar graph instead. I then color coded and set goals on the next page. The goals turned out way smaller than I planned because I messed up, but it made a cute rainbow effect.


My next spread is a new one. I found the guideposts for wholehearted living on Pinterest, and decided to turn it into a bullet journal tool of positivity. It is a healthy reminder that the world is going to try to drag you down, but we have the ability to choose positive alternatives.


For the past several year I have chosen a word of the year. This started with a high school FCA lesson but has stuck. The goal of the word for me is to see where I need to grow in my life and focus on one word to help me conquer the year. My word is faith-based, but a lot of other people use it for other areas of their lives. My spread has my word in big brush-lettered writing and then a list of verses to tackle this year that will help me keep my focus and hopefully grow a little. I have had wonderful success with this practice in the past and am excited to have in my journal this year.


The final item I included is my 2017 bucket list. The year is just more fun with a bucket list. I actually crossed several items off of my 2016 list, so hopefully that will happen again.

The one spread I did not carry over is my books to read spread. Since I am using the same journal, I felt it was unnecessary to create an identical spread  twice. I also haven’t read nearly all the books on the list I had.

This year’s layout involved HOURS on Pinterest, bullet journal blogs and some of those bloggers’ Instagrams. I highly recommend using these tools to create your own spread. Each person tends to do similar things but with their own spin on it. It’s nice to have examples, but it often sparks ideas for my own designs or spreads.

Hopefully 2017 is organized and wonderful with my bullet journal by my side.


End of the Year Organization

I have been absolutely awful about maintaining my bullet journal. I watch all these awesome Instagram videos of people doing theirs and I get envious. I just don’t have the time to do it. However, as college finals are basically upon me, I need some stress relief and organization in my life. I made sure to take the time to make my December spread so that I can make it through the endless list of things I have to do over the course of the next week.

Now I sometimes struggle to find motivation to make plans for months like December where I am only at school for a bit. College is my main motivation for keeping the daily spread up. I did not do summer spreads because I was either at camp or nannying, so it seemed kind of pointless. I want to get better at using my spreads to keep my daily tasks organized, whether they’re college related or not.


So this is my opening of the December spread. I decided to do a fun winter theme because this is the month that seems to officially start winter. And, as you can see, it has already snowed here! (I apologize for the lighting, my room has terrible light and there is no natural light coming through the window today.)



This has remained my favorite calendar spread for the entire month. It’s cute and leaves room for plenty of things to fill up the days. I only add the biggest things to keep it manageable.


I have my classic habit tracker which is pretty empty right now because I am in full finals mode. I added a simple note section because there are several things coming up that I will need to note for coming days/months as the year wraps up.


I brought back the gratitude spread, which I have been really bad about keeping up with in the past months. December is definitely a month to count my blessing in as I wrap up the year and start some serious reflections.

I then have the Waiting On, BIG Verses, Wins, and Learning sections behind this, but they’re not fun and colorful. Spicing those up might be my task for next year, and the habit tracker too.img_1471

And then I go on with my daily spreads. As you can see I’m pretty much working on papers and then studying for finals I have this coming week (and you can see my mistake on Friday where I started to write Wednesday).

So here’s to combatting my procrastination with unchecked lists. Hopefully I’ll keep up on this so that I can stay sane through finals and not forget to stop and reflect.

Mindfulness for the Season

September 12th was Mindfulness Day. How exciting that there’s a day for one of my favorite topics! I’ve mentioned before how important I’ve found this topic because of time spend working on it at camps. I haven’t talked about my healthy habits for this semester much yet. I want to let you know how I’m adjusting my mindfulness practices for a new school year and season of life.

I was beyond stressed last semester. I could barely function, so healthy habits were important to find time for in my life. I am far less stressed and busy this year (so far). It’s been easy to push healthy mental habits to the side because of that. Honestly, I use my free time to watch a lot of Private Practice. This definitely doesn’t help me stay organized and stay refreshed mentally and spiritually.

I have some things in the works that I’m working on making habits and not just sporadic behaviors. First, I’m getting back to my bullet journal. I quite using it during the summer because I was at camp and just didn’t have a lot to keep track of. Getting back to the daily planning and reflection has been hard since then. I’ve made my design a bit more simplistic and also gave my calendar more space in order to better chart my many activities.


September in my journal before the onslaught of events being listed.

I am also working on setting times to dedicate to friends. Coffee dates, lunches, movie nights, etc. I am working on intentionally building relationships in order to make me better  and also be a better friend. People are important in life, so I want to make sure that shows in how I spend my time.


Kayaking at Finger Lakes State Park.

Cleaning time is a new one. This sounds icky, and I’m not a big fan of cleaning. But, clean living space means clean head space. A cluttered room can often leave your mind cluttered. I am working really hard to keep my room organized and my desk empty of junk. I also do general cleaning more often. Organizing my room daily is making my space more enjoyable to be in and easier to do homework in.

This year I have room to have my cello with me at school. For me, making music has always been far more of a stress relief than listening to music. I think music is so important in life. I’m making more effort to use free time to release my emotions through my music. Even if you aren’t a musician, set aside time to find new music to listen to or time to go see some live music. Music is just plain good for the soul.


Hillsong United’s Empires Tour in July.

One I’ve been really terrible about implementing is photography. I think it’s great to capture moments and memories with friends, yet my camera has sat dormant for a couple of weeks. I also really love editing photos, but that’s the journalism major side of me finding that relaxing. I need to collect more beautiful photos for my walls. Creating a room full of good memories can give you the right mindset to regularly go out and make new memories.


Table Rock Lake from a July trip.

Mindfulness is defined by Google as, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” Or, “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” I like to view it as being in tune with your feelings and habits and focusing in on them to achieve a happier lifestyle. I don’t practice mindfulness meditation, which is a real thing, but rather try to be mindful of my thoughts and actions.

When you focus on positive living, you lead a more positive life. It helps you feel better, helps people around you feel better, and allows you to achieve more. The better you feel, the better you perform. Little habits can make for big differences.

So celebrate mindfulness with the rest of the world and make some positive changes in your life!

Using the Past to Find Your Path

I’ve talked about how important reflection is in my life. Daily reflection is an important aspect of my routine. I believe analyzing your day and what went well, or not so well, is a way to put it behind you and prepare for the next. This is a habit that I learned from years of camp.

However, there are certain times I believe it is important to go beyond daily reflection and think a little deeper. This is something I’ve figured out on my own after camp.

While at camp, I usually journal my daily reflections as well as my goals for what I want life to look like when I return home. Maybe some small moral changes, or a new habit to pick up, or a change in attitude or how I relate to a certain person. Nothing too big. Now, with any goal it is important to look back and see if you attained it. (See my goal setting post from a few months ago.)



This is where distanced reflection is key. Was it just a “camp high?” Or did you actually make the effort to apply changes? Did they stick? What change have you seen from them? These questions are important to analyzing goals.

Currently, I am working through some of this from my month of camp in May/June. It’s been a few months and I’m back at school with a new routine.

Time to be transparent: I haven’t been super successful.

Taking a few months to look back at goals gives you the distance to analyze where things went wrong. Why didn’t this happen? What stood in my way? Did I even try?


And here’s the best part. With this information you now have the ability to try again. Or, if you have been successful, you can make changes or add to the goal.

Reflecting can also show you where things you thought were awful actually set you on a path that was better in the long run. That’s impossible to see without some distance between the hard stuff and where you are now.


I like to keep track of my goals in my bullet journal. (See my bullet journal post.) It allows a place for yearly goals, monthly goals, and daily/weekly goals. Whether they’re long-term or short-term, I am able to see what they were and how I’ve done. Keeping track is important.

My advice to you is to keep track of your goals. When I was told to do this in middle school I thought it was crazy. Now I live by it and have learned more about myself than I ever thought I would.


I know what camp taught me, and I know where those lessons need to take me. And now I have a plan.

April Organization

I am going to share my April bullet journal layout and how I adapted it based on what I learned from March. My first month of using the bullet journal system was awesome. I felt like I had it all together. My list of things to do was way more productive and fewer items slipped my mind.


I kept the monthly intro page with goals. I always will, but I’m still not sure how I feel about the monthly goals part being on it. Maybe I’ll start to put memories here next month.


I also left the calendar and habit tracker because they definitely worked for me. Obviously, I still don’t have time to do a lot of things I would like to. I mean, look at that April calendar.


I also left the gratitude section mostly unchanged. It’s still very grounding to look back on the days and know that something good does come of every one of them, even if sometimes it doesn’t seem like it.


Here is where I started switching the layout up a lot based off what I learned in March. I condensed the Waiting On section. There is no reason I should be ordering a whole page of packages, and I fail to keep track of emails and calls because I make so many. I added a Big Verses section. This allows me to kind of keep track of what was important during the month and helps me look back and re-center myself in the Word. I left the memories section, though I need to get better at using it. That’s a goal this month.


I combined the Wins and Learning sections and took away the weekly reflection part of them. I didn’t need all that space and didn’t use it well for March. It might come back once I get better at using it. I also added the #RockYourHandwriting challenge in to keep track of. I am bad about doing it, but hey, baby steps.


I also decided to add in the use of fun embellishments. I got these in the dollar section at Target, but they’re perfect. They allow me to keep notes that I don’t want to randomly scribble on pages.


Here’s where some honestly comes in. I am not perfect at using my bullet journal. April began while I was on Spring Break, which is why I opted not to put my updated bullet journal layout on the blog. However, after I came back I learned a very important organization lesson. I had messed with the layout, but got distracted on break and didn’t necessarily need it. When I got back, I was not prepared for the week I had thrown at me.

As you can see above, I skipped a few days. Or a lot of days. I was so overwhelmed with the week that most nights I just came home really late and went to bed. Add in the fact that I had a terrible stomach virus on top of deadline week, a test, a research paper, and Greek Week and you get a disaster of a person. However, not keeping track of my tasks just made it a million times worse. (I also make mistakes, which drives me nuts. Notice the washi tape.)

I got through the week and sat and reorganized my life, almost literally. I learned that I don’t function well with no type of organization keeping me together. My past week was significantly better. I had everything organized and listed in my journal. Everyone has crazy weeks, you just have to learn how to anchor yourself. For me, it turns out I am already bullet journal dependent. Sure, I keep track of things other ways, but this made me feel unorganized. Feeling that way just added a mental mess to the physical mess that was my first week back from break.

That’s a lesson learned and some new goals set. Organization is key to a healthy state of mind.

Journaling My Way to Peace

One of my favorite habits camp helped me to develop is journaling. Camp always encourages a time of reflection, and writing down thoughts is the best way to do this. I love being able to look back at reflections/journals from past years of camp and see how I have grown and changed as a person. A few years ago I decided to take journaling beyond camp. I started journaling a few days a week with reflections of the day and things that were on my mind. It became a great way to get some things out that I tended to bottle up. It also helped me remember the things I was celebrating that day and defining moments of growth. It also forces me to reflect rather than moving on and forgetting, which sometimes it what triggers growth.

Buying new journals is my guilty pleasure. The empty pages just scream to be filled with life and memories. It’s a very uncomplicated way to document a life. I am currently working out of three journals. I have one that I write about the things I mentioned above in and one where I journal a type of notes from sermons at my church and campus ministry. My newest endeavor is my absolute favorite journal.

Bullet journaling is the busy person’s best friend. There are some incredible blogs about bullet journaling (Tiny Ray of Sunshine, Boho Berry and Pretty Prints and Paper are my favorites right now). The goal is to encourage mindfulness and reflection while staying organized. It’s a place to keep goals, gratitude, and memories while also keeping track of lists, schedules, and habits.


I just started my first bullet journal at the beginning of the month and I am already in love. I tend to scribble things different places and lose track of things, but also keep meticulous lists of things I need to get done. Bullet journaling has helped me have fewer stresses in my day and reflect on how well I’m doing at getting tasks done. It is healing my terrible procrastination. It also helps me see where I have time in the day to fit in tasks I don’t have scheduled in yet, which is something I was terrible at. I am not using my bullet journal as thoroughly as some people do. Yet. I am excited to see how it changes with me through the year. So, here is a look inside:


My bullet journal of choice is the Leuchtturm1917 medium dot grid journal.The grid allows me to set it up however I like but also keep it organized. At the front there is a table of contents so I can easily find what I need. All of the pages are numbered, which makes that even easier. There are two bookmarks, so I keep those on the current month and the current day.

The beginning of any good bullet journal starts with pages for the year. Above is the first set of pages in mine. I have the calendar for each month drawn out. I have the first half of 2016 filled in with events and holidays and add to it as my schedule fills up. These are big events mainly, like concerts and trips. I also have a 2016 bucket list following December where I list fun things I want to do this year.


Next are my “Level 10 Life” and “Level 10 Goals” pages. Boho Berry explains this well and I made mine look a lot like hers. Basically, I have rated where I think I am on a scale of 1-10 in each of the areas in my life on the “Level 10 Life” page. On the “Level 10 Goals” page I write goals for each category that will help me work towards reaching a perfect 10. This was an interesting point of reflection. I am sure it will be even more interesting when I look at it when the year comes to a close and see how far I have come, or if I moved backwards in any area.


The next page contains a “bookshelf” of things I want to read this year. So far I only have books listed that are already on my shelf waiting to be read. I will color them in as I go (you can see one is already colored halfway as I work on it). The page next to it has my 2016 goals. I stress easily, so they are mainly goals to find more joy in my life daily and stress a whole lot less. It’s a good grounding reminder when I am having a bad day.


Finally, the month by month pages begin. I have a fun little heading for the month of March with a few little goals under it (check off blog at least once). Then I have a place to list memories from the month. I have the Rend Collective concert I attended with my sister on there right now. It’s a place I can go back and smile at later in the year.


My March calendar is where I keep a more detailed version of the calendar at the front. I have more meetings and appointments listed here as well as sorority events. I refer to this daily so I don’t miss anything as I plan each day. Next to the calendar is my habit tracker.


This is a fun way to keep track of things I do daily. I like to keep track of my sleep schedule, hydration, medication, and exercise here. These are things I aim to do most days. I also keep track of things I do randomly just to see how often I do them. It is a really cool way to evaluate how I spend my time. March has been busy, so a lot of things haven’t been on the top of my list.


The next two pages are dedicated to gratitude. I find it very important to find things I am thankful for in each day, so here I list just that. It makes me realize there is no purely bad day. Some days it’s hard to find things, but the reflection helps pull me out of bad moods.


I also keep track of wins and lessons learned for each week. This is just another reflection method I have to evaluate my weeks and where I need to work on things to take on the next.


Finally, I have a list where I keep track of things I am waiting to receive. Right now I just have packages listed, but I hope to expand it to keep track of phone calls and emails I am waiting on to be returned. That’s it for the beginning of the month. After that, my day to day planning begins.


I love doodling and hand lettering, so I love doing this daily. I have a time tracker at the top which is color coded with things I have scheduled for the day. Sleep, meals, class, and extracurriculars make up most of it. It shows me where I have free time. The list below shows tasks I need to fit into that free time. Circles denote events and appointments and dots are tasks. I check them off as I complete them, or turn it into an arrow to push it to the next day. I also have the weather listed for fun. So far, this set up is really working for me.


Sitting down at the end of each day and planning out the next has been extremely beneficial to me. It lets me refocus and recenter myself to take on what comes next. It is also a huge motivator to get things done. I look forward to seeing how my entries change month by month and to see what types of pages I add. There are so many fun ideas on Pinterest and blogs that I hope to work in once I get the main journaling goals down. This is the ultimate stress relief technique for me, and I plan to update the blog as it grows and changes with me.