There are a lot of common “Spreads” people have come up with. A “spread” is the term for the set of pages you have a particular thing on.
Spreads I don’t use
Mood trackers – No idea why these exist and are so prevalent in these journals. I’m not going to color code my moods and enter them each day. I’m certainly not going to draw 30/31 different leafs or cats or snowflakes to color in for mood. I already know my mood. Cranky. If I’m not cranky, I’m on vacation. That’s it, that’s all you get. You damn kids can get off my lawn.
Realistically, if you are fighting depression or anxiety, I totally see a need for these so you can talk to your docs about what’s going on, any meds, and how you feel each day. It’s better to record how you feel while you are in the soup so to speak instead of looking back and glossing over things that might be important. But that’s generally not what you see with these, and most of them are super arty and colorful and so the results would be arty but not I think useful in an actual clinical setting. It’s really hard to correlate patterns in random color coding that changes every month, and why bother tracking it if you aren’t going to use the data?
Gratitude – Many folks do a page or a line every day for things they are thankful for. Much like mood tracking, I don’t see the need, but I get where it’s coming from. Maybe you are at a place in your life where you need to see the good things happening to you in writing because you can’t remember them without that. I was raised to be thankful at all times for a roof over my head and food on my table, and told everything else was luxury, so for my day to day life, I don’t see a need for this. Every time I piss and moan about life, I am quick to remind myself of how good I have it, and if I don’t, shmoo will certainly help out. That generally starts with “tell me how it felt to wake up in your dirt bed, take a dirt shower, and eat your dirt breakfast before going to work in the dirt fields today…” We’re pretty good at realizing we have a great life. If you need help with that, I’m guessing that’s what a gratitude log is for.
Brain Dumps – I’ll be honest, I am not sure if these are doodle/brainstorming pages, or for writing all your feels down or just all the shit running through your mind that isn’t things you actually need to remember, but I don’t get it. If you have thoughts that you don’t need anything done for, then those are thoughts, you thought them, now move on. I’m obviously not someone who needs to write everything I think or my blog posts would be more prolific, so maybe this is just something I don’t understand. I’m ok with that. Possibly you are someone who would find these types of pages useful.
All the Artwork – drawn, painted, taped in, or a shit ton of stickers, I’m not sure I get the point unless you are wanting to actually have an artist’s notebook that is also your journal. Yep, I use washi tapes for color and cheerfulness and a ruler to try and keep most of my lines straight. I have tons of markers and colored pencils, and I like color quite a bit. But I don’t really need fancy art with my color. Being useful is enough for me and colorful is just icing on the cake. I freely admit many of the journals with arty stuff are beautiful, I’m just not sure I’d find it useful. If it’s that pretty, why would I write on it?
Some people actually also journal in their bullet journals along with the tasks and such. I’ve never been a successful journal/diary keeper, and these tend to be the kinds of pages people don’t share on the internets so I can’t really advise you on them other than I know it happens for some, therefore if that’s what you needed, it could happen for you too.
Spreads I do use.
Future log – I’ve seen a lot of people do variations of the original version for this, but the standard set in the basic bullet journaling video works for me. It’s space to dump an entry for that month into, and then I move on.
Monthly Spread with Tasks – I offset my Monthly list a bit and notate work items that impact my personal life, and vice versa with my work journal, and there’s a list of Tasks that don’t really have a time frame for but I want to do in that month. Some people don’t like this, and do a traditional box calendar, but those don’t work as well for me. If they did, I’d just have a printed calendar and that would solve everything. Here is an example of a Monthly spread for me:
Weekly spreads – I only started doing Weekly spreads in October. However, I stumbled across something called Rolling Weeklies on Reddit, and they are really working for me. Except mine don’t roll. Basically I do a combo of weekly and daily spreads and I give it two pages to happen on. There is almost always leftover space for meal planning and grocery lists at the end of the week, or space for an upcoming thing I want to plan for (like thanksgiving cooking, as seen below). I arrived at this version by some trial and error, but it fits my life, so I’ve stuck with this iteration.
Expense tracking – I am fortunate enough to not have a strict budget, but I am working on being more aware of where I spend money and knowing exactly what I am spending on. I like to put a certain amount in savings each month, but had not been doing that regularly until I started expense tracking, because I was relying on my memory of “yeah I did that this month” and it wasn’t always this month I was remembering. Now it is because I wrote that shit down.
Habit tracking – If you take meds every day, you know, it kinda blurs together after a while. At least if does for me, so I use the “habit” trackers to make sure I’ve taken my meds, and if I don’t, well at least I have a log of what I have done to share with my doc. Then I use one or two other trackers to track things I want to improve on or pay attention to for the month. Like a new skin care routine, drinking enough fluids, or knitting/spinning every day. Something I want to do more regularly that I’m not doing now. It’s just self accountability really.
And that’s basically the most common parts of a bullet journal you’ll see. Next post will be changes I am making moving from this year’s journal to a new one for 2018.