An Overview of My Current Journal Setup

Because people have asked, here’s an overview of my current journal setup. This is high-level. In future posts I’ll get into how I set up specific spreads, pages, and trackers. Note that this is also my main journal, because I also maintain separate journals with different layouts for specific projects.

At the front I start with a standard “table of contents” page. Next is my key, which includes symbols and color codes that I use. The symbols are pretty much standard Franklin Planner marks, because I got used to that in the corporate world and it works Each project or segment of my life gets a color. Household stuff is orange, because it’s Katie’s favorite color. Dancing Lights Press stuff is green. Finland-related tasks are blue, after the Finnish flag. Blog and zine-related tasks are purple.

I also list out any code names or non-standard abbreviations, followed by the full name. When I’m writing quickly or trying to save space, it’s easier to write HUB, for example, rather than HUBRIS: The Journal of Cultural Horror. Projects that have no official title, or a working title, keep the same code even after they have an official name. This is just for consistency. Dancing Lights Press-related tasks, for example, are still abbreviated RWR for Read Write Roll.

After that I add what bullet journalers call a “future log”, two facing pages, each divided into three sections, one section for each of the next six months. I usually paste in a small monthly calendar for each month, and write in notable dates like birthdays and holidays. I also include long-range deadlines in red, so they stand out.

Next is a spread (two facing pages) for the current month (or the month that begins the journal), followed by a page (one page) for the first week of the month. I do not fill out much more than that in advance. On the first day of the week, if I need a day page, I’ll add it. I’ll take as many pages as necessary for a given day. This means that a busy day might have 4 or 5 pages, and a slow day will have none. It’s abut practicality, not slavish consistency. If something comes up in the future, I put it on the month or week page if it’s coming up soon, or on the future log if it’s beyond the current month.

The reason I don’t lay out anything further in advance is because I try to focus on the needs of the moment. I only need vague details of major events of the next six months, just so I have some awareness of what’s coming down the line. I need a bit more clarity around the current month, and especially the current week. Day pages are where all of the minutae goes, but I don’t need to the thinking about any of that until the day arrives. It’s all about managing the granularity.

None of this is particularly earth-shattering, and probably isn’t anything you haven’t heard before. These are pretty standard ideas. In the next few posts I’ll get into the monthly, weekly, and daily spreads, as well as pages and trackers, which will give you a clearer idea of how I use my journal, and possibly provide some more useful tips.

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