Spending an extra 15-20 minutes creating and filling in a monthly review in your bullet journal could help you more efficiently plan for the coming month.
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Whenever I talk to people who are wanting to start their first bullet journal, I preach the importance of sticking to the basics.
Keep it simple.
Don’t go overboard with buying supplies or feeling pressured to create 27 different collection pages.
Spend time getting to know yourself, your preferred planning methods and the basic of the bullet journal system.
Granted, these are all just suggestions and do not need to be taken with strict enfocement.
I’ve met lots of people who dove in headfirst, buried themselves away for days to create their dream journal, and still love and use their journal.
However, that isn’t always the case. And, sometimes adding too much can leave you feeling overwhelmed and underproductive. Which can make the bullet journal system seem
I’m pretty sure I have repeated myself a thousand times, here (see the Top 5 Mistakes ‘Newbies’ Make in their Bullet Journal. But, it’s because I have been there and have witnessed countless others experience the same thing. And I believe this system can work for any and everyone once they find their footing. So, I hate to see people give up because of this pressure to be or create a certain way.
With all that said, I do want to share a page that I have found very valuable in my own journal. The extra 15-20 minutes it takes to set up is so worthwhile; plus, you only have to do it once a month.
A personal monthly review in your bullet journal is a single page that sums up your month.
That’s the brief version. But, in this post, I’ll explain more in depth what a personal monthly review is and what the benefits are, give you some monthly review ideas for your own bullet journal, and show you some inspirational review pages.
What is a Personal Monthly Review?
A personal monthly review is an overview of the previous month where you reflect on different aspects of your life according to your own priorities.
Depending on your preferred methods, you can accomplish this on a blank piece of paper, your planner or bullet journal, or even word processing software on your computer or tablet.
Often times, a monthly review will cover some general points such as top accomplishments and things to work on. But, it also typically includes more personal categories or topics.
For instance, in my own personal monthly review, I like to reflect on my career life, family time, and health and fitness.
Breaking my review down into categories that pertain to my life and goals allows me to focus my reflection. Without using this method of categorizing, I would be all over the place, trying to write an entire month into one page.
From here, these categories are separated within the monthly review to provide a more clean and efficient layout.
In my review, I have small boxes for each topic I want to write about during the month. This layout changes month to month and sometimes certain topics require larger spaces.
Again, this just helps organize the information into useable tidbits that you can later look back on.
However, your monthly review does not need to look anything like this. The following sections of this article will further discuss some monthly review ideas and layout inspiration for you to draw from.
What Should I Include in My Monthly Review?
Like anything in the bullet journal, the choice is up to you what you put in your monthly review page. You can read all the blogs, books, and Pinterest infographics, but at the end of day, you have to find ideas and methods that benefit you.
However, with that, it’s my job to give you some ideas to start you off. And, while I won’t tell you what you have to include, I want you to know that you can get ideas and inspiration here.
The Serious Stuff
When it comes to monthly reviews, many people like to use them to improve in the coming months. It’s helpful to have information from the past to make to look at and dissect.
I highly encourage you to write down your biggest wins for the month. Maybe you only have one, or maybe you have half of a page worth.
Don’t be ashamed to be proud of yourself, especially when you are in the solitude of your journal. In those pages, you are not bragging or boasting. You are giving yourself a pat on the back and acknowledging what went right over the past month.
This little snip of information can serve as a motivational tactic to keep yourself on track for the coming month.
On the flip side, it can also be helpful to include the things you want to change in the coming month– aka, the things that didn’t go well.
While this may seem counterproductive to writing down your wins, acknowledging your shortcomings can be very effective at helping you make any necessary changes to improve the next month.
Try to keep it positive and not beat yourself up with your words. Don’t write how bad you suck at… but instead talk about why it didn’t work or what you could do differently.
A few other more serious ideas to consider:
- Career progress
- Focus for the coming month
- Lessons learned
- School progress
- Fitness/health updates
- Personal development
The Not So Serious Stuff
Many people enjoy keeping track of memories and minor details in their monthly review.
Now, don’t get offended. Everyone deems different categories and topics as important or not important. So, take this with a grain of salt and decide what is important to you.
Some examples of the not so serious stuff include:
- Books you read
- Movies/TV shows watched
- Currently playlist favorites
- Favorite event or memory of the month
- What you’re wishing for
- Favorite foods/drinks
- Favorite outfit/nail polish color/lipstick
How Do I Fill Out My Monthly Review Page?
So, you have your monthly review layout all set up and ready to go. But, as it nears the end of the month, you have no idea how to fill it out. Here are the best practices I have learned to use to fill out my monthly review.
Flip Back Through Your Journal: This is one of the easiest ways I have found to make my reflections accurate and efficient.
Start with your habit tracker and your monthly goals. What sticks out to you? Did you exercise as much as you intended? If so, what was your driving force? If not, what needs to change next month to hit those goals?
After looking through your habit tracker and monthly goals, you can briefly scan your weekly or daily pages. Again, pick out the things that seem noteable and that stick out.
Do you have a tendency to forgo planning on the weekends? Does your productivity suffer as the weekend approaches? Do you seem to get a ton done on Mondays?
Write these things down either in your reflection page and make note of what was good or what needs to be changed.
Sit Quietly and Reflect: It sounds very cliche. I know. But, trust me. Most of the time we are too busy thinking about what needs to get done next and how something should be.
Wherever you usually journal, sit down quietly and just reflect on the last month. Think about times that made you really happy. Think about anywhere you went, people you saw, memorable moments.
As you allow yourself to visualize the past month in your head, you will be able to pick out pieces that feel the most relevant and important.
You can fill in your monthly reflection page however you please. You can use brief bullet points, full sentences, or doodles.
How you fill in your review will depend on the space you allowed yourself to write, as well. If you created small boxes, it’s likely going to be better to use brief bullet points. Or maybe you can sum it up in one well-structured sentence.
If you prefer to not create your page ahead of time so that you have ample room for writing, you could use color coding or simple horizontal dividers across the page as you write about each topic.
What are the Benefits of a Personal Monthly Review?
While each person will have different reasons for keeping a monthly review page in their bullet journal, there are some general benefits.
Learning from Our Actions: On a day to day basis, most of what we do is routine or habit.
For instance, you may get up at
But, because you are in a
So, looking back and thinking deeply about what you did will allow you to be more mindful of the situation. Why something did or didn’t work, or why you felt a certain way.
This allows you to learn, and learning is growing. From reflection, you can make intentional changes and be more mindful about specific actions so that you can change your habits and create new ones.
Gratitude: The next big benefit of reflection is gratitude. When you allow yourself to stop thinking about all the other things you need to do and can reflect on recent events, you give yourself time to appreciate moments and experiences.
Sometimes you lose sight of the progress you’ve made and the accomplishments you have achieved. Reflecting allows you to acknowledge and be grateful for yourself and what you have done.
Even if you had rough patches in the previous month, you can be grateful for the experience and being able to learn from it.
Better Planning: While I don’t always include a planning section in my monthly review, it’s always something I keep in the back of my mind while I’m filling it in.
Flipping back through monthly and weekly pages gives you insight into how each layout worked for you. You’ll be able to tell which pages you were more engaged with and working with and which pages didn’t end up being as valuable.
Doing this allows you set up the following month to fit your personal planning methods even better. And when you can plan and organize areas of your life, you are going to be more successful in whatever you are doing.
Monthly Review Inspiration
Need some inspiration for your next monthly review? Check out some of the pages from the artists below.
Whether you are looking for something more minimalistic, something with a lot of room, or something artsy, I’ve rounded up some different variations.
Do you do a monthly review in your bullet journal? If so, what do you keep track of each month, and would you say it has helped you improve with each consecutive month?