People love to get the next month ready in their bullet journal. In fact, I’m pretty sure many artsy bullet journalers probably dedicate hours toward their monthly spreads. There is something so exhilarating writing in empty pages for the first time. Yet nobody ever even thinks to do a month in review to analyze the information from the spreads.
Um, hello, you’re missing a vital page that your bullet journal NEEDS!
Why does hardly anybody review the information they tracked form the previous month??
People are just so gung ho to make the next month, the next trackers, the next set of doodles, the next weekly spreads. It’s as simple as that! And yes, these are important! Not to mention fun! So yes, please do make these posts (and invite me over so we can share washi and talk bullet journals!).
Let’s Get Started!
BEFORE you start your month in review, I’d like you to stop. Open up your bullet journal to the end of the last month. Flip back a few pages. Take a good, hard look at your last month.
Because you want to use this information to make your next month even more productive.
I mean, seriously, who doesn’t like that? Or want that?
So, to make your next month even better, you have to reflect on what you’ve done in the past. If you have trackers, goals, and lists, you already have the tools to reflect.
So Please, Do This First!
Take 15-20 minutes looking over the previous month. I want you to look for patterns in your data. Look for things you didn’t complete. Look for successes. Take note of the things you liked, and the things you honestly didn’t like.
Bonus points if you go back an additional month prior and do the same thing!
Now, what are you going to do with this assessment I just instructed you to do?
I’m going to instruct you to make a ‘Month In Review’ page.
What is a Month In Review Page?
Glad you asked! A month in review page is basically a landing zone for the data you just compiled if you followed my instructions above.
The Month in Review is one or two pages that you dedicate to the very end of each month to sort the data and determine what you’d like to adjust for the following month. What’s great is that you don’t even have to only utilize the current months’ data, too, you can actually utilize other monthly review pages to determine what adjustments you want to make.
There are a lot of things in your bullet journal you could choose to review; however, I usually stick to a certain few topics (though I’m amenable to adjusting this!). Ultimately it’s up to you to choose what elements you put in your own month in review.
If you aren’t sure where to start, you’re welcome to use my suggestions as a baseline.
So, what should you track in your month in review page?
The first type of data that I monitor is from my general ‘tracker’. I take a few minutes to look at the data from the previous month and try to look for things that I either do or don’t do consistently.
Why this particular type of data?
Well, if you are doing something consistently from month to month, you’re probably good to drop it. I prefer to measure variables that vary! For instance, I quit drinking soda, which is something I tracked for a long time. Well, after four months of no soda, I figured it was kind of a pointless thing to track.
So I removed it.
And if you’re not doing something consistently from month to month, is there a way to adjust the tracking objective? For instance, you set your tracker to go to bed at 11pm every night. And for you, that doesn’t happen. This would be an instance of something that probably isn’t going to change without a goal and intention to work on it… so you could remove it.
Long story short, remove what you’ve doing consistently (I’d say for 3+ months DAILY), adjust what you aren’t doing at all.
This concept is actually pretty similar to the data you manage that I mentioned up above. Once you reach a goal and you are reaching the goal consistently (daily for 3+ months), I’d say it’s time to give it up.
If you aren’t managing a goal well, this would be a great time to reflect on what isn’t working and make adjustments.
Let’s go back to the ‘bed by 11pm’ scenario I mentioned earlier. Now, if you decided that you want a consistent bed time as a goal and you aren’t reaching it, then I wouldn’t actually recommend getting rid of it.
You would want to look at your bedtime routine first (what’s keeping you up later?). Could you remove an item from your bedtime routine and try the goal again?
Are your expectations for maintaining a consistent bedtime too high? Maybe you need to strive for a later bedtime and hit that goal consistently first before you move it up to 11pm.
Or, are you just a night owl in denial? In this scenario, you have a goal that isn’t realistic and you should just get rid of it.
THE OTHER THING you need to do with your ‘goals’ box is to take a quick peak through your last 1-2 months and see if there is something you do want to have as a new goal. This is pretty straightforward… if there is, add it to your list! And then when you are setting up the next month’s layout, make sure you write somewhere more specific directions toward reaching that goal.
Personal recommendation- don’t add more than 1-2 goals per month. I’d recommend tracking no more than 4-5 in general.
Best Scenarios of the Month
There are a lot of amazing things that happen in life that are so little that it’s easy to get mixed into all your other memories. I highly recommend going through your weekly and daily spreads and taking a quick glance at notes you’ve written yourself. Did something really amazing happen? Did you have a really incredible experience?
Write it in the ‘best’ box.
I’d recommend picking between 1-3 things.
Why monitor this information? Well, I think it helps keep a positive spin on things. You can have a really lousy, shitty, terrible month… and I’m positive that there is at least one good thing that happened in your month.
Worst Scenarios of the Month
Let’s take a swing to the opposite side of the spectrum.
You should check to see if there were any problematic scenarios within your month. Did you have an issue with a friend, family member, or coworker? Did you have a really lousy day? Or did something bad happen to you?
Now, nobody likes to dig up the ugly stuff… but I highly recommend putting something in this box because maybe 4 weeks ago you wanted to figure out a solution to whatever problem you were having and you just forgot. It happens! By taking the time to review the bad stuff, you can make sure that you’re making the adjustments you need to right any wrongs that may have occurred.
Again, I’d recommend picking between 1-3 items to select in this box.
I pretty much have a notes section for about anything.
The notes section is pretty much the catch all box for everything else. Sometimes there may be things that you want to remember from your month! Or maybe you noticed a really interesting pattern that occurred in the month that you just want to jot down for reference.
Sometimes, you may not have anything interesting to write in this box at all! No harm in leaving a box empty (always great doodle space, or sticker space if that’s more your style!).
This is your place to freestyle. Have fun with this box!
Now what do you do with all of this information you’ve just collected?
Ok, NOW you can start building your next monthly spread. Go for it!
As you’re constructing and doodling, occasionally reference back to your month in review to help build your new spread.
As you’re creating your trackers, make the necessary adjustments that you noted. Get rid of what you’ve mastered and what you’ve failed to maintain.
As you create your monthly and weekly goal sheets, remember get rid of what you’ve mastered. Write down your new goals if you have any, and make the objectives to manage those goals well. If you’ve decided you need to change up a previous goal, adjust and make the new objectives for more optimal success.
Are there any other things that you can put in your ‘month in review’ area?
I’m sure there are, and the sky is the limit! Some examples:
If you track your finances in your bullet journal, this would be an optimal place to see how your maintaining your money.
If you or a family member have a disease that you need to monitor (such as epilepsy- seizure frequency and medication given), this would be a great place to determine if there is something that needs to be adjusted. Your medical provider will appreciate the data, I’m sure!
What other things would you review in your month in review page? This is where I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on the subject matter! Who knows, maybe you’ll introduce something I never thought of… and if you can find a tool that I can use, I’ll always make sure you get a shout out in a future post on social media or the blog!