A monthly spread in my bullet journal allows me to see the entire month at a glance and is a space for me to plan, reflect and document everything that’s going on. In this post, I show you how I set up my monthly spread in my bullet journal and how I use it.
Setting up the monthly spread
The first thing I do while setting up the monthly spread in my bullet journal is to write the name of the month at the top, this is one of the few places where I put in an effort to decorate my otherwise simple and minimalistic journal. I’ll explore different styles of writing the name, maybe add some doodles or stickers in that area depending on how I feel.
Next to the name of the month, I like to add a calendar of the month with important dates highlighted. This is just so that I don’t have to pull out a calendar on my phone every time I’m planning something a few days ahead and can quickly reference it. It also adds a fun element to the spread.
Days of the month
On the left side of the spread, I’ll write the dates of the month, this is going to be space for me to add any important events coming up, such as birthdays and anniversaries, but also for single line journaling; more on that in a bit.
On the right page of the spread, I’ll set up a few habit trackers. I like to keep these limited to five, just so that I don’t get overwhelmed about the number of habits I’m trying to track. This also gives me a chance to reflect on what habits are truly important to me.
On the remaining part of the page, I write my list of to-dos and goals for the month. Earlier I would just have a running list of goals for the month, but I found that I wouldn’t end up completing them and would try and achieve them all toward the end of the month.
Now, however, I break them down further into weeks, this helps in two ways – First, it allows me to break down the goal itself into smaller more achievable tasks. Second, it feels like there are fewer things to achieve each week, so it becomes more manageable.
How to use your monthly spread
Now that the spread is set up, let’s take a look at how to make sure you use it. One thing I try to do is to visit this spread every day of the month either in the morning before the start of the day, or in the evening when I’m winding down. Five minutes is all I need and this space allows me to reflect on my day without it getting overwhelming.
Mark important dates and events
When I set up the spread, I mark all the important events in front of the dates that I set up on the left page. I carry these over from the future log that I’ve set up at the beginning of my journal.
Single line journaling
At the end of each day, I like to write one line that captures the day. This is not necessarily about how I’m feeling, but just basic documentation about what happened that day, what was the highlight. If I feel like writing more, I switch to my long-form journal separate from my bullet journal to pour out thoughts and feelings about that day. An example of a single line entry may look like
‘Yoga, swimming, dinner with the gang, finished reading Why We Sleep’
Tracking habits in your monthly spread
I try not to be too hard on myself while tracking my habits. It’s about understanding my natural behaviour and seeing how I can improve, not about maintaining a streak and giving up once you break it. Currently, I track five things –
- Movement – yoga or swimming, I track this by writing either Y or S depending on which one I did
- Mastery – An online course, or practising a hobby
- Call a Fam/Friend – I find it extremely difficult to stay in touch with people but this tracker acts as a reminder to pick up the phone and just call someone
- Steps – Because I have a desk job and I need to keep reminding myself to move
- Mood – This one I fill out by making varying degrees of smiley faces when I see this in relation to my other habit trackers and single line journals, it shows me what’s working for me and what’s not. I can see that the days I don’t do any movement or call a friend, that they are pretty neutral, however, the days I have everything checked off, I get pretty drained
Breaking down your goals
Like I mentioned before, breaking down my monthly goals into weekly tasks in my monthly spread has been a game-changer in terms of shifting my mindset. It all just seems more manageable. I don’t necessarily fill out all of these at the beginning of the month, however, if you have a big goal that needs more than a week to finish, I would recommend breaking it down into smaller tasks for each week and filling them in at the beginning of the month so that you have that foresight you need to get something like that done.
Other ideas for your monthly spread
There are plenty of other things that the bullet journal community adds to their monthly spreads. There’s no right or wrong way to do these and you can customise your spreads as per your needs. Here are some ideas that you could incorporate into your spreads.
Having a page to write what you are grateful for and reflecting on that at the end of the month can help you realise that things aren’t as bad as they seem and make you focus on the good stuff.
If you’re trying to lead a healthier lifestyle, working out is great, but keeping a track of your food can be very helpful, this makes sure that all the effort in the gym does not go to waste and you can identify those sneaky little snacks that add extra calories without you realizing it.
I used to do these ones quite a bit and I was inspired by @heyamberrae on Instagram. She has these check-ins at the beginning of every month that help you reflect on the month gone by and set the tone for the month coming up. What I like about this check-in is that it’s focused on feelings and emotions rather than goals and tasks and give you a moment to step back and check-in with yourself. Not work, not things you need to get done that month, but feelings, highlights, gratitude and mindfulness.
Personally I think a monthly spread in a bullet journal is just the right resolution to keep track of things at a glance. Weekly spreads are too zoomed in and future logs (6 months or a year) is too zoomed out. What are some of the things you do in your monthly spreads? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below. If you liked this post, don’t forget to share it!
Yet to start your bullet journal? Check out this post where I explain how to get started