Evolution of a Spread

Recently I started using a new weekly spread layout in my bullet journal and I thought I would go into some detail about how I designed it, what I tweaked to perfect it, and what tools and stationery I used to make it.

Above you can see an overview of the first version of this spread. I was inspired by Mossery Co’s horizontal weekly spread in their 2019 planners. I love their planners so much! If they made an undated one I just might have to switch from my bullet journal… but I digress.

I wanted to make a spread that felt a bit more streamlined and maybe even elegant than my previous weeklies. I had been using a great rainbow check washi tape (that I still love!) but when I saw that Mossery layout I knew I wanted to see if I could translate it to a hand-drawn version: vertical, timetable heavy, but still feeling light and fresh.

Here are the essentials I know I need in a weekly spread:

  • Header showing month, year, and week number
  • Timetable for Monday through Wednesday appointments and events
  • Plenty of space for to-do lists, mostly work tasks but with an area for personal tasks, too
  • Space for a habit tracker
  • If possible, a tiny calendar, mainly because I like how they look, but it’s also nice to see at a glance which week of the month you’re in

So for this first version, I got so excited about diving in and trying something new that I totally forgot to leave space for the header! Thus the little circle with the month number (no year). I knew right away I didn’t like how that looked, so I decided to just roll with it and experiment and not take this first version too seriously, and instead try to just get a general idea of if I liked the spread at all.

I also forgot to space out the days and numbers of the week with one character per box, which I knew I’d change the next week too.

I used a solid gray line to delineate the to-do list from the timetable but I thought this looked a little heavy.  I stuck with my current favorite way to record tasks: in alternating “ruled” gray highlights using my Tombow Dual Brush Pen (no. 95), inspired by Full Flourish.

Finally I left space for the mini-calendar and habit tracker. I “weighted” the calendar to the timetable header and the habit tracker to where the to-do list area started but I didn’t like the weird white space left in the middle.

By the end of the week, despite the fact that I thought it wasn’t very pretty, I definitely liked the layout and wanted to find some ways to tweak it. And so, behold…!

In the revised version of the spread, I took time to think through some of the functional aspects of the spread more completely, and also added a few decorative elements, to give more cohesion and elegance to the spread.

I left space for the header and added a sticker (from Life Story in Edinburgh, Scotland) for some interest and a nice gold shine.  I used a gold gel pen for the dates to connect the rest of the spread visually to the sticker — and I use the same pen to check-off my to-do list items as well.

I got rid of the solid gray line separating the tasks from the timetable (it wasn’t necessary anyway as you “read” the new section already because of the gray highlights in the tasks section). At the last minute I added that gold line to the edge which I really liked even though it serves no purpose.

I kelt the indentation on the whole left side – two boxes in, mainly to give some space for the left-hand hour notations on the timetable. Now that I’m looking at it here though, that probably isn’t necessary and I could have stuck with one box indentation instead, which I might do next week.

Finally I streamlined the right side of the page. The habit tracker and calendar are now one on top of the other and leave more white space at the top of the page. I used the gold pen to outline the days of the week section to further connect the whole spread visually.

I also made the choice to make the weekend days slimmer (which might not work for everyone but does for me since I usually don’t work weekends). This gave me room to fit the notations for my habit tracker without having to go into the margins of the page which would have really looked weird since I had so much breathing room on the lefthand side. Although it kind of bugs me that all the days aren’t the same width, I think the weight of the calendar and tracker even out this discrepancy so it doesn’t feel wonky.

This week I made one final adaptation to the spread that I can trade in or out…

Inspired by Mark from Men Who Bullet, I added a “next week” preview area to the right hand side of this spread. I think it looks SO sharp and I’m excited to see how it’ll do in my workflow this week.

Here’s a closeup of the next week preview. I used my Ink by Jeng Row & Cols stencil to easily divide the boxes into six (all that could fit), making the weekend one box. I’m not sure why I decided to put the days of the week vertical like that. I think next time I make this I’ll write them horizontally and add the date number because I realized when filling in my spread I missed having that right noted there.

Overall I really like it though and I’m excited to put it to use! Hope you enjoyed this look into my thought process in creating and tweaking a new spread. (If you’re curious about the tools I used, by the way, they are all from my Everyday Carry.)

If you found this post interesting, let me know and I’ll do more of them! My previous weekly spread went through many subtle transitions over a six month period (this was just a few weeks!), so if you all are intrigued I can write more about it. Tell me below!

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