Bullet Journaling 101: Choosing a Monthly Theme
One of the most fun things about journaling is being able to choose a different theme for each month. There’s no obligation for this to be complicated, or even strictly defined, but it can be exciting to see that each month has its own unique style. It also helps to create some visual difference when you look back through past journals, or to immerse yourself in your current journal.
Now, it’s up to you what ‘theme’ entails. This can be just a simple color palette, where you choose a few colors to use for the month. It can be a particular medium, so perhaps one month you do all your doodles in watercolor, and another you sketch everything in fineliner. Maybe you choose a particular style such as minimalism or pointillism. Or perhaps you base your theme around a particular design or concept, such as a video game you like, or your favorite animal. You could also choose to focus on particular areas of self-growth for a certain month, and include specific trackers as part of your theme.
If you’re new to bullet journaling, choosing a monthly theme based around a particular color palette is probably the easiest place to start. You don’t have to worry about limiting yourself to certain types of pictures or art, and you can just select different colors to work with.
When choosing your colors, there are several considerations you should pay attention to. Firstly, consider whether the colors you’re planning on using go well together. You can do this by looking at a color wheel. Try to pick colors that sit next to each other or opposite each other on the color wheel. You could also try and pick colors that are lighter and darker versions of other colors, for example choosing light blue, cerulean blue, and navy.
You may wish to co-ordinate the colors you choose with the time of the year that your month is sat in. So perhaps you could use greens and yellows for spring months, warm colors such as red and orange for summer months, and cool colors such as blues and grays for winter months. Whichever color palette you choose, try to be creative with the way you apply it. You can put little splashes of color in the form of different shapes, and you can use cultured fineliners to write your daily journal entries.
Styles and Mediums
Perhaps you care less about having a consistent colour palette, and instead you’d like your monthly pages to be linked by something else, such as a particular style or art supply. Maybe you want to give minimalism a try, and let your spreads speak for themselves. Maybe you’d like to see what it’ll look like if you only use paint pens for a month.
When you’re considering which supplies to use, it’s important to take into account the thickness of your paper. Some journals have thick, high quality paper, and others have thinner paper which may lead to pens ghosting through the page. A good trick is to have a ‘pen test’ page at the front or back of the journal, where you can swatch all of your supplies, so you can see how they’ll perform.
With the style, it’s important to consider whether you’ll be able to commit to that style for all the spreads that you want to use it for. If you choose something complicated such as pop art or surrealism, then you may grow exhausted trying to create something new for each page. Sometimes it’s easier to go with something more basic such as floral patterns or geometric art, but ultimately you know your capabilities, and it can pay off nicely to have a really detailed stylistic theme for the month.
Concepts and Designs
You may wish to focus a month around a particular design idea. Perhaps you really like nature, and so you could have a month where all your spreads are based around plants or cacti. Or maybe you like animals, so you could choose something like butterflies or cats, and draw them onto the page. You might even have stickers related to your theme, which you could include as part of your spreads.
Another option is to base your theme around a hobby of yours, or a franchise that you like. You could choose symbols from your favorite book or TV show, and depict them in your journal, to help give your spreads some real personality and character.
When picking your concept or design, it’s again important to consider what you’re capable of. It may be easier to go with something that’s easy to draw, or has a lot of associated items. For example, perhaps your favorite animal is a platypus, but you realize that they’re quite tricky to draw, and there’s not really anything else that you could use as a theme surrounding theme. Instead, you might go with something like a bee, which is easier to draw, and you could include other things such as hives and honey.
A concept doesn’t have to be an artistic one. You could also choose to focus on a particular part of your life that you’d like to improve. Maybe you’d like to work on your finances, and so you could have trackers based around investing and budgeting. Perhaps you’re trying to eat healthier, so your trackers could involve eating more fruit and veg, and less junk food. Try to think of an idea for self-growth, and use your journal to help with accountability.
You could even choose your theme based on that particular month’s association. So you could do a beach theme for June, a spooky theme for October, or a Christmas theme for December. This can be a great way to keep your months looking distinct from each other, and it’ll be immediately obvious which month you’re looking at when you flick back through your journal.
Use Your Theme Wisely
It’s up to you how far you take your theme. You might want to commit to it on every page for that month, or you may only wish to use it for your monthly spreads. A lot of bullet journal users like to create a ‘front page’ with the name of the month, and a busy showcase of the monthly theme. However, how far you then go with the theme for the rest of your spreads is up to you. Most people will have pages for things like trackers, or a calendar, and usually these are also based on the monthly theme. You can also include weekly spreads, and your daily journal updates. You may wish to only have a theme for your initial monthly theme, and not limit yourself for the rest of the weekly and daily pages. However, you may also like to keep a consistent style running throughout.
Ultimately, it’s your journal, and so it’s entirely up to you how you use it. Why not play around with the idea of monthly themes, and see what you can come up with? Let us know in the comments what styles you would like to try out!
Cover image – @scrap_plan_create on Instagram
Article images – @emms_bujo on Instagram, @the_stationery_box on Instagram, @alena_stationery_nerd on Instagram, and @michelle_green_art on Instagram.