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Karen Dickenson
Karen Dickenson

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Bullet Journal - 2021 version

I have used a dot-grid journal for three years, and over that time, it has morphed. I'm a straight-forward, non-artistic type. For those who are creative, please feel free to dress up your pages! I don't need the full set of colored pens, decorative stickers, and stencils to make my journal work for me.

If you are new to bullet journaling, a quick explanation can be found at

The first year, I did my calendar one week at a time and allowed for as many pages as I needed in-between weeks for project notes or collections. My journal index looked haphazard.

The second year, the calendar was input as monthly chunks with the other type of pages in between the months. The Index looked a bit better, and I now could look ahead more than a week at a time.

For the third year, I kept all my calendar pages (input monthly) in the front of the journal and added project notes, conference notes, and collections starting at the back of the book, working back to front (pages were numbered B-#). Because of this, the final page of my index was for the "Back pages." Working backward was really awkward when I had notes that needed several pages.

Keeping the calendar pages together

This year I will be pre-loading all my calendar pages, January through December. This includes the monthly reviews at the end of each month as well as the final annual review, all together at the front of the journal. This should take me to about the middle of the book. Doing this upfront gives me a definitive point where I can start my collections pages. I have some magnetic page markers I can use for quick reference to these open content pages. And now I can work from front to back instead of back to front. I have always had a hard time walking backward, and now I'll be able to "see" where I'm going.

Other things I have learned over the years

Learned this year: you need a notebook with more than 160 pages!

  • I wanted to get fancy and order a red-covered journal with heavy paper. It only had 160 pages, and I need at least 200.
  • Also, do NOT get a journal with pre-numbered pages. I have had to trim botched pages from the journal before. When I did, the page numbering was then off. I am mathematical and linear, so a missing page erks me.

Order of pages in my journal for 2021:

Calendar: (165 total pages)

  1. Key (1 page)
  2. Index - 2 columns (3 pages)
  3. Future - 3-months per page for (4 pages)
  4. Beyond (2022) - 2 columns x 6 rows (1 page)
  5. Annual Goals (1 page)
  6. Monthly - dated, single line per day (1 page)
  7. Monthly ToDos (1 page)
  8. Weekly - 2 pages per week (8-10 pages)
  9. Monthly Review - weekly blocks, 2 columns x 2 rows (1 page)
  10. Notes/Goals for next month (1 page) -- If the Monthly Review needs more than 4 blocks, use the top of this page.

Repeat the Monthly pages (#6- #10) until you have the full year done.

At the tail end of the calendar pages, add:

  1. Year in Review - 4 months per page, 2 columns x 2 rows (3 pages)
  2. Next Years Goals (1 page)

Collection Pages:

  1. 2021 Conferences - monthly, 2 columns x 3 rows (2 pages)
  2. Books - two sections: personal & business (1 page)

The rest of the book is available for note-taking, project planning, training schedule, or whatever else I might want to jot down.


My Long-Time Favorites

  • A lucite right triangle (mine is orange, you need one you can see through)
  • Sharpie 0.8mm Pen Stylo (mainly blue, also use green & red) -- for page headings, month/day dates, rules/lines, and other permanent markings
  • Mechanical pencil (0.5mm usually) -- for daily entries
  • A chunky pink erasure -- I mainly write in pencil since life is fluid and always changing.

My Additional Tools for 2021

  • Hobonichi Accessory - Stencil - Basic
  • Suatelier Planner Sticky Notes - Month -- small, easy to see the month at a glance, and movable as I progress through the weeks. I circle important dates like family birthdays in color.
  • Suatelier Planner Sticky Notes - White Checklist -- for ToDo items that don't have set due dates, also movable.

All of these additional tools are available on

Some other changes for 2021

  • New symbol -> ★ (for notes of WINS!)

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