An illustrated Guide To Setting Up A 2021 Bullet Journal

A bullet journal set up for 2021 using a black and white theme. The pages have moons, stars and moon washi tape on them. The first page on the left is a cover page and the page on the right is a review of 2020.

It is the start of a brand new year and is a clean state for your mindset. You have the ultimate chance to reevaluate what you want for your life in 2021, what do you want to achieve and what you want to focus on. 2020 was a difficult year and although there is still some uncertain times ahead, 2021 is a fresh start for you to refocus and start the year off on as positive note as you can.

There is something so motivating about a new planner or a bullet journal, fresh pages that you can start planning and setting your goals. A bullet journal is a great planner system that you can tailor to your preferences. Bullet journals can help you be organised and the most productive with your time.

If you are new to bullet journalling and 2021 is your first year, you may be a little overwhelmed or not sure the best way to start your bullet journal. I am going to share some tips to help you set up your bullet journal for 2021.

1. Plan what pages you want to include

There are so many different spreads you can use however not all may apply to you. You can have pages like future logs, a key, goal pages for 2021, a brain dump, a reflection on 2020, recommendation pages, a bills tracker, highlight reels or even a year in pixels. There are so many things you can plan and track in your bullet journal as you can see from my 2020 bullet journal or you can search on Pinterest. There is no wrong way to design pages in your bullet journal and what pages you want to use, it is your personalised planner.

2. How do you want to use your bullet journal?

Depending on what you want to use your bullet journal for may alter what pages you use in the set up of your bullet journal. Some people use a bullet journal as their planners, some use it to keep track of their side hustles like their blog or their youtube channel or even as a mental health and health journal That is the beauty of a bullet journal it is blank and you can use it for a multitude of purposes. Once you have decided how you want to use the journal will mean you can eliminate some page ideas. This year I am using my bullet journal as well as my planner and my bullet journal will be where I record blogging information, mental health trackers and weekly to do lists (to save paper!). So certain pages like future logs and keys I do not really need in this years bullet journal.

3. Decide your style and theme

When setting up your bullet journal and your monthly spreads it is important to know what you want your bullet journal to look like. Do you want a creative spread that has doodles, washi tape and a colour theme or do you want a more simple design? Both are great and both will have the same functionality but it just depends on what you prefer. You can even swap back and forth with throughout the year. When designing creative spreads it can act as stationery self care activities which can be quite relaxing.

Here is my 2021 bullet journal set up

1. 2020 reflection

The first page after the 2021 cover page is my review of 2020. This is something I didn’t include in last year’s set up but I feel after a difficult year that reflection is very much needed. Reflection is something I find beneficial for my mental health and my personal development. I decided on the prompts; highlights, what went well and what did I learn? This year has been a big year for me and I can be guilty of alway thinking about the next thing rather than being present and appreciate what I have achieved. Using a page like this allows me to evaluate my year and gives me direction for what I want my next year to look like. A reflection like this allows me to end the year knowing what I have achieved. 

A bullet journal set up for 2021 using a black and white theme. The pages have moons, stars and moon washi tape on them. The first page on the left is a cover page and the page on the right is a review of 2020.

2. 2021 goals

Setting new years resolutions was always so much fun when I was younger however for a number of years I changed to setting goals , affirmations and what I my focus to be throughout the year. I find that having specific goals and focuses motivates me more. Setting goals in personal and work life allows me to work towards specific targets and the art of setting goals to achieve is far more motivating than new years resolutions. Throughout the year when I achieve goals, I can set mini goals for the rest of the year. With 2020 throwing everyone a curve ball and it derailed a lot of my for the year; so I am going to make sure that although I have set goals to be kind to myself if some get put on hold or pushed back. 

3. Things to check out

So many times I will be scrolling through social media and see people sharing recommendations and I will take a screenshot or jot it down in a notebook and I will forget about them. Having a page in my bullet journal that I use daily will allow me to keep all the recommendations in one place and it is somewhere I can refer to when I have time to check them out. I am very guilty of sticking to the same or similar things and I want to try and broaden my taste in these areas. If you have any recommendations please leave them in the comments. 

A bullet journal 2021 spread using black lettering, moons, stars and moon washi tape. On the right page is a 2021 goals page and the left page is a things to check out page to write down recommendations.

4. 2021 highlight reel

I enjoyed this page idea for 2020 so I have decided to carry it on for 2021. As I have a HP sprocket I print out one of my favourite photos from that month. It is a two page spread which at the end of the year will create a year of memories. I journal throughout the year however this is another way to reflect and shares a small snippet of my highlights from the year. This is a great way to document positive moments that make you smile. If you do not have a way to print out photographs you could write about a fond memory or even draw it. 

This is a highlight reel spread where I will put hp sprocket print out pictures in for each month. There is a box for each month until August. The double page spread is decorated with moons, stars and moon washi.This is a highlight reel spread where I will put hp sprocket print out pictures in for each month. There is a box for each month from September to December. The double page spread is decorated with moons, stars and moon washi.


This is a simple way to set up your bullet journal for 2021 and start levelling up your organisation and productivity skills. Are you using a bullet journal this year? I’d love to hear in the comments. 


100 thoughts on “An illustrated Guide To Setting Up A 2021 Bullet Journal

    1. It definitely isn’t just for artsy people. I did a spread last year June and July that was simple and how Ryder Carroll the founder of the bullet journal system designed. You can do it ☺️

  1. I loved that you included pictures of your journal! I always say I am going to start a bullet journal, but never know where to start in terms of design

  2. What a beautiful journal! I have wanted to do a bullet journal for years, and have never started because of how busy I am with work. This is so inspiring to finally get on board 🙂
    Happy 2021!


  3. Happy New Year!! I love the different bullet journal spreads you have! So important to have the right setup to support your goals and give you a safe space to jot your thoughts down. Love that you have a section to reflect on 2020. Your washi tape is so cute too!! One of these years, I will set up a bullet journal :).

    Nancy ✨

  4. In all my writing, I have to have a brain dump section. I often need pages to put random notes, lines from unfinished poems, things to do, places to submit writing to . . . I would love to see more ‘brain dump’ pages shared; in all those little thoughts and bursts there are jewels.

    Thank you for sharing this!

  5. Your journal is so pretty! I love the idea of a bullet journal, but drawing is so intimidating for me. Nothing ever turns out how I want it to.

  6. I’ve been looking into many different ideas for this. I first came across them through reading your blog and this really helps me figure out how to start one and for what purpose. Thanks!

    1. That’s great, I am so glad it has helped you. I have a blog post coming tomorrow that shows you how to set up for January. Can you link your blog so I can have a look?

  7. Your journal looks lovely. I love your font. It looks like you typed it. The letters are so easy on the eyes lol

    This year, I bought the same Posh Deluxe Organizer as last year. Different design but same layout. It’s a habit tracking planner and works for me. I cannot draw at all!

  8. I don’t know if it’s just me being super nosey but I love getting a sneak peak into other people’s bujo! Yours is so pretty – I love the black and white lunar/space theme! And your washi tape! 😍

  9. Your journal designs look so minimalistic and pretty! I’m going to copy your concept if you don’t mind! Happy new year Lauren!

  10. Great Post!! I’ve never done a bullet journal but they have always intrigued me. You’ve given some great ideas!!

  11. I love the idea of printing out a photograph every month and including it in a journal. It’s so nice to be able to look back on. I have a HP sprocket myself so I’ll have to do this!

  12. I only use my bullet journal for my blog planning purposes but I do keep a gratitude journal on an ad hoc basis. I love the idea of a highlight reel, Lauren, that’s such a good idea, I’ll have to incorporate one too! x

  13. Amazing post! Thank you for these tips and inspiration! I’m going to make a bullet journal for this year soon so this is very useful! I love the design of your pages!

    1. Good luck when you set it up, tomorrow at 8am I have a blog post showing how to set up January in your journal, so look out for that. Have fun with it and any questions send them to me and if I can answer them I will. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

  14. Happy New Year! I love how you’ve set this up. This one is actually the first one I’ve seen that has 2020 reflection and I think reflecting on the previous year is so important! Of course, a lot of us feel like 2020 was a waste but it was still a whole year of life! I usually just journal thoughts, affirmations and goals but mine nowhere as pretty as yours haha! xo

  15. Your journal looks so pretty! I really want to get into doing a bullet journal. It looks like such a fun and relaxing thing to do, and I like the idea of being able to look back on it. I’ve been collecting/buying a few things to include in it for decoration, I just haven’t got around to doing it. Maybe this year I’ll start one! These all sound like lovely ideas as well for what to include x

  16. I love just having the plain black ink. I have created bullet journals in the past, but I switched to a basic planner once i realized that I wasn’t really using it as a journal as much as merely a scheduler. But I love seeing what other people do with theirs, and it gives me ideas on ways to keep track of certain things that my planner can’t. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Bullet journals are so pretty! This is a really good guide, though I’m one of those disorganised messy people when it comes to journalling.. Maybe, I’ll try this out this year.

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