2019 Bullet Journal Set Up & Planning Routine

2019 is around the corner and I wanted to share my bullet journal setup for the new year with you guys! My old journal was almost full, so I treated myself to a new one for 2019. I did some research and decided on getting a Dingbats journal.

Here’s everything I love about this journal:

  • Solid hardcover made from soft faux leather
  • Suuuper smooth 100gsm paper (minimal bleeding/ghosting)
  • A5+ format – slightly wider than normal A5
  • Comes with ribbon, pen holder, elastic closure and pocket in the back


There are also a few things I don’t like about the Dingbats journal though. One downside is that the dots are very dark and very visible but I think I’ve already adjusted a bit to that. The paper color is way more yellow than in my old Essentials journal but that doesn’t bother me too much either. Also, I didn’t love the embossed tiger on the cover and decided to cover it up with tape. I used wide patterned washi tape and metallic gold tape that I both bought at Ikea and now I’m pretty happy with how it looks πŸ™‚


The inside cover features tiger pawprints which I didn’t find super appealing, so I covered the double page with scrapbook paper that I bought back at in the US at a JoAnn store. Isn’t it beautiful?


So here’s how I set up the first pages in the journal for the new year. The first dotted page was a single page, so instead of starting my future log (i.e. yearly overview) on that page – I prefer double pages for that – I created a page that I’ll use to keep track of the birthdays of all my friends and family. Whenever a new month starts and I set up my monthly overview I can refer back to this page and fill in the birthdays that are coming up that month.


I actually started over with this page so many times, haha! I first wrote the heading in a wide grey brush pen, then decided to cover it up with paper scraps and write it down in black ink again. I also wrote down the months and highlighted them with a bright pink and then covered it up with washi instead. Now I really like how it turned out. But that was a rough start πŸ˜€


Above and below you can see how my future log looks like. Together with my journal I also bought some new pens at Muji and I love them so much! I used the one with the finest tip (0.25) to write down the single dates and another one with a 0.38 tip for the calendar weeks and weekdays (in case you’re curious about calendar weeks: In Germany, it is common practice to number all the weeks in the year, so whenever an American would say something like “The week of April 8th”, a German would sometimes refer to that as “calendar week 15 = Kalenderwoche 15”) πŸ˜‰

I like how neutral / minimal this yearly overview looks like. One of my plans for this journal is to keep it pretty simple. I have a new creative endeavor coming up in 2019 and I need my planner/journal to be functional and organized. Plus, I’ll pour all my creative energy into that secret endeavor that I’ll reveal sometime during the coming year πŸ™‚


At the end of every year and right before a new one starts I like to reflect on everything that happened, everything that worked and didn’t work for me and everything that made me happy/sad. This helps me a lot with goal setting for the new year. So the next two pages are my 2018 Reflections and 2019 Goals pages and I’ve kept them pretty simple, too – just some washi, scrap paper and minmal headings.



This next page is for every recommendation I get for things to read, watch, listen to and other stuff I want to check out.


After this page I included two pages for planning for the blog and the other thing I’ve got coming up but they’re so simple that they’re not even worth showing here πŸ˜‰ After those two, I created this one:


I came across a tip somewhere online that recommended to make a list of all the moments or activities that make you happy or feel fulfilled. So whenever you feel a little blue or even when you just want to check in with your everyday life, you can refer back to this list and see if you’re still on track or if you can do some of these things to feel a little better instantly. I really like this idea! If you’re curious, my personal list includes things like petting animals, seeing the ocean, taking walks in the forest and reading a book. <3

And that’s pretty much it for my general setup this year! The last thing I’m gonna share with you here is my January overview. I’ve created a simple calendar and then left some space next to each week to create a weekly focus. That’s another one of my planning / organizing goals for 2019: setting a thing to focus on for each week of every month. So for example, I’m planning to focus on self care in one of the weeks in January and on life admin stuff  – contacting my health insurance company and my landlord, scheduling doctor’s appointments and so on – in another week. I have a feeling that this may take some of the pressure away that I sometimes experience when I look at my neverending to do list… I’ll keep you posted on the results!



Bullet Journal updates in 2019

Before I end this post, I wanted to share some other things I’m changing in my bullet journal in 2019. After putting much thought into it, I decided to not prepare intricate, highly decorated weekly layouts anymore. I just realized that sharing my monthly and weekly layouts here put a lot of pressure on me to come up with new designs and ideas and some weeks I didn’t use the spreads at all for planning after creating them. I have so many weekly spreads in my old journal that I mainly created to share on the blog which don’t have a single thing written in them. I also find that if a weekly spread is decorated too much, i.e. so much that it’s confusing to the eye, I tend to use it less. And that’s not really the sake of a bullet journal, is it?

So what I will do in the future is to prepare overviews / spreads for each month and at the beginning of each week I will just start jotting down stuff for that week or for single days in a very simple layout, sort of in the style of the original bullet journal method created by Ryder Carroll.

On here, instead of sharing my monthly and weekly spreads in the beginning of each month, I’m planning to share monthly or bi-monthly updates of how I used my bullet journal recently, what worked and what didn’t, favorite spreads etc.

Combining digital and paper planning

Also, as I’ve not really used my journal for planning much in the last couple months – due to bullet journal burnout as I like to call it – I started to look for digital planning tools to keep up with my appointments and to dos.

Here’s what I’ve started to use and am planning to combine with my bullet journal in 2019:


Google Calendar

I’ve started to use Google Calendar to keep track of my appointments, days I have to work, dates with friends, birthdays and holidays. On the left above you can see a screenshot of my Calendar phone app (I blurred out names to keep my friends’ privacy πŸ˜‰ ) To use different colors for different occasions / types of appointments I created a few different calendars and assigned colors to them. Whenever I create a new item, I just make sure to create it within the correct calendar and that’s it πŸ™‚ In any other regard, the app is very easy to use and pretty clearly organized.


For any to dos, short term and long term, I use Wunderlist (see the desktop screenshot on the right above). Like Google Calendar, it’s available as a phone app and can be accessed through the browser of your desktop computer. You can create different folders or categories for all your to dos, add deadlines and reminders and finally, check them off πŸ˜‰

Google Keep 

For any notes that I need to take on my phone, I use the Google Keep app (German: Google Notizen) in which I can create lists, save screenshots and links and do a bunch of other things.

Why combine them?!

The main reason behind my plan to combine apps and journaling in 2019 is that I don’t want to carry my bujo EVERYWHERE. If I’m just meeting a friend for coffee, I might only take a small bag and leave it at home. In case we make plans though, I want to have something with me that doesn’t allow me to forget it later on. Since I pretty much always have my phone with me, the apps I use are simply way more accessible than my journal. Combining digital and paper planning, hopefully, will help me stick to my plans, goals and reminds me to text friends when it’s their birthday πŸ™‚

Also, the Wunderlist app makes it much easier for me to keep track of long term to dos and projects that would go beyond the scope of a two-page spread in my bullet journal.

You might ask why I even want to continue using my bullet journal if I have everything I need for planning in these apps. And maybe my answer isn’t satisfying but I just can’t go without my paper planner, haha! I like to write down goals and reflections and other things by hand because I feel like I’m much more emotionally attached to them that way and don’t seem to forget about them as fast as I would if I only wrote them down digitally. Plus, it’s just so satisfying to check things off my to do list with a real pen πŸ˜€

Anyway, this was a lot of rambling and I’ll end this post now. I’m excited to start using my new journal fully in January and see where everything takes me!

How are you planning to plan in 2019? πŸ™‚ Please let me know in the comments!

Lena <3

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