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2020 Bullet Journal Set Up!

Ah, annual bullet journal spreads - my nemesis. Or is it nemesises... it's probably neither. But anyway, for whatever reason, I have always struggled hugely with those spreads at the start of a new journal - the trackers or spaces you want to have functioning for you all year round. The first year I used a bullet journal, I had a lot of free time on my hands and got very carried away with these spreads. I had like 20 pages all set up, and don't get me wrong; I loved making them and they were pretty to look at - but when I found myself having a lot less time on my hands, I lost the thread with all of them and it was just this messed up, half filled in void. So - and I bet you can see where this is going - the next year I set up my bullet journal, I wanted to avoid this happening again and so I thought, screw it, I never used the annual pages anyway... and spent the whole year forgetting the names of films people recommended to me, or having to open my phone calendar to find out what day a month started on.

So, I know what you're thinking; third time's the charm, right? Well, yes and no. This year, I've found myself with not very much time to put into setting up my bullet journal - and to clarify, I'm not glorifying busy, but setting up one's own business does require some hustle - and what's more, because I'm now lucky enough to use a lot more of my creative energies actually for work than ever before, it means when I sit down at 7pm to do some bullet journal spreads, well it has often been crickets. Or clumsy mistakes - or, in some majestic cases, both.

Wow, feel like I've really pitched myself well in this intro - nothing like asking people to check out your work by pointing out everything that is now and has ever been wrong with it! But seriously, I made these spreads with the time that was available to me, and I did the best I could. While, yes, I'm disappointed with how they came out - I wanted to share them anyway because a) the Instagram fueled culture of only posting the highlights of our lives and creative endeavours is fairly poisonous, and b) ultimately my bullet journal is a functional item, and actually, this might be the most functional set of annual spreads I've ever made. So with all that being said, I just wanted to share the spreads I did create and why, as well as to talk about some I've used in the past and haven't included this time around.

Title/Introduction page

In the past, this has been an elaborate 2 page spread for me, with a meticulously researched quote done in exciting hand lettering - but this year, honestly, I just reached for the quote that naturally came to mind when I thought about how I was feeling about 2020. I'm a huge Tolkein fan, and have always resonated hugely with The Road Goes Ever On - so it was nice to find a way to include it in my journal.  I combined it with a little watercolor painting - I'm still at the early stages of learning watercolours, and although in some ways it kills me to have something so "rough" on such a landmark page, it will also be nice to be able to look back at it nearer the end of the year and see how far I've come!

Year Long Calendar

Like I said, sometimes crickets and mistakes! But seriously, this is a spread I actually reference quite a lot - to check the exact date of someones birthday, or what day of the week the 7th is - so I knew I wanted it in here. I think I do struggle with designing pages like this where the layout is more constrained - by having a clear calendar layout - and there's also less space to play with. Also, pro tip - there are in fact only 7 days in a week; that's why my February is a big tippexy mess!

Year Long Mood Tracker

So, this is one of those spreads that I set up two years ago and completely flaked out on, and for that reason, I almost gave it a miss again this year... but... it's just such a cool idea! What I did do this year is simplify it hugely. Last time around I had like an 18 colour key with intricate mood descriptions, where as this year, I've broken it down into basically a traffic light system, so it should require less thought and therefore time to fill in.

2020 Wishlist

This is sort of an amalgamation of a few spreads from my previous journal - again, trying to keep the functionality, while getting rid of the fluff. I like having a space where I can set some goals for myself - "wishlist" in this context isn't so much about physical things, although a few may appear in here, but it's more a space for like a year long bucket list - experiences I really want to have. I missed this spread last year, as I think there's something really powerful about writing down goals, in terms of helping them come to fruition. I also think it's fun to look back at the end of the year and see, not only what I've ticked off, but also if I've changed my mind on any of the things I was so desperate to do. On a visual note, I was tired when I made this spread, and while I really wasn't wild about the painted flowers, I would have come around to it if I hadn't then drawn in all the writing lines competely wonky - note to self, do not do this job right before bed!

Books and Movies

I definitely missed this one last year! I am always hearing someone recommend a book I might like and then completely having my mind go blank when I'm actually at the library. It's so frustrating! It's the same with films - I'll see trailers, or hear about a film coming out, but then completely forget to go and actually see it. In the past with this sort of spread, I've also included little reviews for if and when I actually consume an item on the list, but honestly, I don't think I'll bother with that this time around - it'll be nice to just have a brain dump space to keep track of ideas.

Spreads that are Missing

So, there's definitely a few spreads I've skipped out on this year and I wanted to just touch on them and why, just in case you're also trying to make some tough decisions.

Dedicated Birthday Tracker

I found that I don't actually need a full spread for this. I'm pretty good at knowing whose birthday is roughly when, sometimes, I just need a nudge on the exact day, and so for me, highlighting birthdays in the main calendar works just fine. Now obviously, if you don't have a clue when birthdays are then this is a problem because with my system, I have to just remember which highlight refers to what person! 

Annual Planning Page

Actually in both my previous journals, and in fact I think in bullet journal convention, there is a space for making plans for the year. A sort of overview of months where you can highlight vacations, concerts, parties, that sort of thing. But honestly, I don't make a lot of far out plans. I'm going on vacation in 2020, for three weeks, so I've highlighted that in my annual calendar... but other than that? I don't currently have any concert tickets or weddings or such planned, honestly, with my friends, it tends to be quite laid back and last minute anyway!

Money and Savings Related Pages

This year, I've decided to separate my business goals out into a different bullet journal. While it's tempting to keep it altogether as I have in the past, so I have everything in one place, it does make my bullet journal feel like a less welcoming place at the end of the day if it's full of work related goals and reminders.

And so there we have it, a not very succinct post about my 2020 Annual Bullet Journal Spreads (or lack thereof)! Have you set up your journal for 2020 yet? Do you have staple spreads you always include or does it change year to year?

Thanks for reading.

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