As 2023 comes to a close, I am sharing my Bullet Journal Year in Review. It’s always fun to look back and see how my style changed over the year and the colour palettes I gravitated toward. It’s also interesting to remember the year based on how much I used my layouts. On YouTube, I am sharing flip through of my two journals I used throughout 2023. On the blog, I am sharing my cover pages and colour palettes for inspiration. I also share my favourite colour palette, design, and overall setup for 2023. So I hope you enjoy my bullet journal year in review. Throughout the review, I am filling out the Year in Colour layout I created as part of my Mid-Year Bullet Journal Setup.
Year in Colour
For background, my year in colour layout is one I create in my mid-year bullet journal setup. This is one of my favourite layouts to use to look back at my year. I first created this layout in 2022 and carried it over into 2023. For my 2023 setup, I created only 4 circles to capture my colour palettes. While I was filling these in, I realized that 5 colours capture the overall palette better so I will be creating 5 swatches for my 2024 year in colour. This is such a fun way to capture the year and reflect on your bullet journal year in review.
Starting off my bullet journal year in review with January. I had high hopes for this champagne/new year theme but it fell flat for me. I had issues with the print quality of my stickers and didn’t end up using this setup that much.
I find it interesting to see how much I use my layouts depending on how much I like the theme/colour palette. I didn’t like either of these so I guess it makes sense I didn’t use it much. This is definitely a theme that I can revisit one day and maybe tweak the designs or colours.
For February, I chose a tropical parrot theme. At the time, I wanted to practice drawing birds and incorporate more birds into my work, but that didn’t really pan out. I find creative bullet journaling is a fine line between lofty aspirations and the practicality of time. A lot of the time, I will pivot from a theme idea due to time constraints, and, honestly, the simpler my theme, the more I like it.
This was another setup where I barely used it. I wasn’t a big fan on the vertical columns in my weekly setups. I definitely prefer horizontal boxes. Knowing this, I may still decide to use vertical boxes in a setup in the future. It’s the best part about bullet journaling – the flexibility to change your layouts based on your needs/how you feel.
HONOURABLE MENTION: Hand lettered print
March saw me use perfume bottles and florals for my theme. I used pastel colours, which if you read the setup blog, I am not a huge pastel fan. This theme lives rent free in my head though, and is definitely one I want to revisit and redesign. I had thought about this theme for a while before using it for March. Initially, I had planned on creating a mini pattern collection from it but I wasn’t inspired enough at the time. This theme will be back in some way at some point so stay posted for that!
This theme was 2 years in the making. I had illustrated these hanging plants a few years before using them in my journal. I love these illustrations so much and was so excited to repurpose work I had already done into something like this. I am in the process of putting digital kits together and this is one of the first ones I designed. I am finalizing a couple of pieces and then will be listing the kit for sale in my shop.
As far as this setup goes, I don’t like the cover page but liked the rest of the layouts. I got more use out of this setup than the others but I definitely want to focus on relying on my journal more for 2024.
HONOURABLE MENTION: favourite illustrations
Looking back through my bullet journal year in review, I feel May was were I had a small pivot in my style. I was SUPER inspired by tulips and chose a tulip theme for May. I liked the colour palette and this cover page is by far my favourite of the year. It wins my favourite hand lettered cover page of the year. The simplicity and the message was so fun to create. Overall, I didn’t like the weeklies I created for this setup. I was trying something new and it fell flat for me. If I were to create weeklies in this style again, I definitely have some new ideas for it.
FAVOURITE: Hand lettered print
One of my favourite setups of the year (but not my most favourite yet). I repurposed my Fruit Bowl pattern collection, isolating the oranges and changing the colour palette. My original fruit bowl setup was August 2022 after a family trip to Hawaii. I then decided to use just the orange-themed portion of my collection, in a new colour way. This collection is available on Society6 and Spoonflower.
HONOURABLE MENTION: colour palette
July was the start of summer break and normally, I don’t rely on my journal as much during the summers. But for July (and August), I used my journal a lot! We took a road trip and I meant to document it (creating a page for it), but never followed through. July, August, and September were a little rough for me personally as I was struggling with some things. I did a mini office renovation which turned out great. But I did stop posting regularly on my social media accounts. I wasn’t feeling happy and put together so I didn’t want to post images that looked happy and put together.
Outside of these personal issues, I chose a vintage suitcase theme and LOVED the illustrations. I feel my execution of the theme in my journal could’ve been better but I really enjoyed these drawings. I did create a mini collection and uploaded them onto Spoonflower. Seeing these illustrations again while doing this bullet journal year in review, I may add some prints to this collection and get the most out of them.
August wins my favourite overall setup! I loved the colour palette, the illustrations, and the hand lettered cover page. I had a blast creating these teapots, choosing different shapes, designs, colours, etc. It was a lot of fun. I have some prints available on Society6 but will be looking at creating a mini pattern collection with these illustrations.
FAVOURITE: Best overall – lettering, illustration, and colour palette
Normally, I try to come up with different theme ideas for my layouts – different from what’s trending. But mushrooms have been such a huge trend, and honestly, they’re so fun and easy to draw, I leaned in and chose mushrooms for September. I went with vibrant colours and offset those with the black and white polka dots (which I was SUPER into most of the year), and just loved the final product. This is one of those themes that I may just leave in 2023 but also, may incorporate into future designs, but not as the primary illustration. I have some ideas percolating that involve my October theme.
For October, I chose moths coupled with various poisonous florals and script writing. I created patterned paper for this setup and went for a junk journaling feel. This was definitely in my top 3 setups for 2023 and I have plans to develop these illustrations more and hopefully put together my first halloween-themed pattern collection. As you can tell, there is so much I want to do but time is definitely an issue. Hoping I can find a way to be even just a little more productive in 2024 to meet my goals.
HONOURABLE MENTION: Best overall – lettering, illustration, and colour palette
I definitely used my journal more toward the end of the year than I did at the beginning. Normally, it’s the opposite for me. At the beginning, I am eager and excited to use my journal, and then burn out at the end of the year. For 2023, it was the opposite. I really loved my themes and designs toward the end of the year which is why I think I used my journal more.
For November, I went with a coffee theme. I had done a coffee theme before but changed it up, choosing bright colours instead, and tying in the idea of talking over coffee by incorporating speech bubbles. I loved this theme too (top 5). Earlier, for July, I mentioned not liking the execution of a theme. November is a great example of how I loved the execution of the theme: the speech bubbles, the movement of the coffee pots pouring coffee. It just gave the overall design more personality. I did create patterns for this design but am still finalizing some things before I upload them onto Society6.
FAVOURITE: Colour palette
Lastly, for my bullet journal year in review, we have December. I am proud of my December theme. It’s super simple – presents in circles, which I feel is versatile too. A great theme to use for a birthday month. Just change the colours to what you want and you are good to go. I chose a vintage Christmas colour palette and thought it was fun to move away from the more traditional colours, just to make it different.
I barely used December. I was so looking forward to so many events that I committed them to memory and didn’t need to write them down. The flip side was that we got really sick toward the end of December. School went on break and we were sick. So we will be healthy just in time for the kids to go back to school.
Bullet Journal Year in Review
And that is another year done and dusted! 2023 marks 8 years bullet journaling for me. Those 8 years all look VERY different and include a 1 year break I took after having my second kiddo and moving back to Canada. I really started to find my groove during the Pandemic and still really enjoy it. There are months where I feel exhausted or mentally drained, but it starts to feel like something is missing when I imagine the month not having it.
The biggest take aways from my 2023 Year in Review would be
- Don’t worry about not finishing months or pages. Just turn the page and keep going.
- Simpler is often times better. Not every design has to be intricate and interesting. Done is just as good.
- Don’t judge an entire journal by the one setup that you didn’t like. That’s part of growing and learning and is fun to look back at to see how far you’ve come.
- Keep experimenting with different layouts. Find what works for you but also, don’t be afraid of flexibility to revisit previous layouts. Time changes everything and what never used to work, might work now.
I hope you enjoyed today’s post. Let me know how long you’ve been bullet journaling or if you’re just getting started. Creative journaling has literally changed my life, and while there are ups and many downs, I still wouldn’t change it!