It’s the last day of September! For us bullet journalists that means it’s time to get our October spreads set up. I’m at the six-month mark in my bullet journal journey, so I’ve gotten into a bit of a groove but I’m still experimenting to figure out what works best for me, so I thought today I’d walk you through what I’m trying out this month.
I always like having a small grid calendar in my monthly spread, as it helps me to see at a glance whether a specific date is, say, midweek or at the weekend. However, I don’t feel the need for a full-size calendar, and I prefer the traditional bullet journal-style list for actually recording events. I use black for weekdays and a coloured pen for weekends in this list, so I can see at a glance where the weeks fall.
Last month I started using a Calendex-inspired future log, which is working beautifully, and it integrates really well with my date list for the monthly log. When I set up my spread, I just needed to scan the October column in my future log and copy the page numbers into the appropriate dates on my monthly spread; all the information is indexed already so it’s very quick, and the amount of information in the future log one-liner is just enough to jog my memory so I’m not surprised by events later in the month.
The Habit Tracker
I’ve always used weekly habit trackers up to this point, because I like the flexibility of scheduling in habits on my weekly spread rather than committing to them for a month.
However, I’m finding there are some things that I am always tracking, and a monthly tracker rather than a weekly one is much better for seeing longer term patterns. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I aim to read, go outside and do yoga every day, and have done so for months, if not longer, and I don’t see this changing anytime soon. Those fill the top three rows in the habit tracker.
The bottom row is for Pilates, which has been my primary form of strength training for years, but I oscillate between doing short, daily workouts and doing longer ones 2-3 times a week. Currently I’m on a 2-3-times-per-week schedule, so I’ve filled in my rest days in pencil; if I get midway through the month and decide to switch to a short daily routine again, I can easily erase the pencil and fill those boxes in when I work out.
This spread is pretty basic as I’ve had difficulty sticking to budgets in the past and am still trying to find a solution that works for me. In August I recorded expenses, colour-coded based on broad category, but I didn’t find that terribly useful as it couldn’t give me a broad overview of, for instance, how much money I’d spent on food that month.
In September I switched to using grids that could be shaded in as I spent money, so I could easily see at a glance how much of my budget had been used up, but this wasn’t ideal, either, as it’s difficult to estimate just what proportion to fill in for a grocery purchase that came in at £6.72.
This month, I’m going for a hybrid system that has space for both listing every transaction and shading in grids for my budgets. To keep things simple, I’m only keeping a budget for groceries and for my personal hobbies/leisure this month. These are the two areas where my spending can be cut relatively easily, so I’m focussing on them first as I ease into budgeting.
On the left-hand side I have information for the joint account I share with the Scotsman, including our fixed expenses, the groceries budget, and space to record all our spending. On the right, I have the information for my personal account.
Because there’s space to record spending beneath the grid, I can avoid the issues with rounding I faced last month. If I spend £6.72 at the grocery store on one visit, then I can shade in £10-worth, but the next time I spend £6.10 I won’t shade in another £10, but just leave it as is. When I then go and spend £18.92 I’ll shade in another £20-worth.
And there you have it. You’ll notice my monthly setup is pretty basic compared to a lot of other bloggers. For me, personally, I just find that many of things that others would put in a monthly spread fit better elsewhere. Until recently, for instance, I found habit tracking fit better in the weekly spread than in the monthly one.
And that’s the beauty of the bullet journal. It’s infinitely flexible and customisable, and you’re not restricted to what you chose six months ago if your preferences change. It’s continuously evolving, and each spread is a learning opportunity. Things I like from my October setup will find their way into my November one, and things I dislike will be discarded or reworked, as with my budget tracker from last month.
Over to you
What spreads are you including in your bullet journal this month?
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