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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. 

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. 

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 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. 


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