If you’ve read some of my other posts, you probably know that one of my favorite ways to keep myself organized is with my bullet journal. For me, this journal functions as a planner, diary, and creative outlet. It gives me a record of my days, weeks, months, and years, as well as a central place to store most of the important information I need to remember.
If you’re new to bullet journaling, I definitely recommend checking out originator Ryder Carroll’s website, where you can find information on the original system. The basic form is very simple, and from there you can customize it to your own needs much more easily than trying to start by imitating all of those picture-perfect layouts on Pinterest and Instagram. Each person’s journal looks and functions a little differently, because each person has unique needs when it comes to planning and organizing — not to mention different artistic preferences.
My Bullet Journal for January-June 2020
Oh, 2020. You started off with so much hope, promise, and inspiration.
My bullet journal setup for the first half of 2020 was very much inspired by Frozen II, as well as a general theme of navigation/exploration. One of the movie’s quotes that I chose to include was this one:
“Just when you think you’ve found your way, life will throw you onto a new path.”
At the time, I thought of it as descriptive of my change of career path after moving home from China. Little did I know it would apply so fully to so much more about these months, and not necessarily in exciting ways.
In any case, here we are at another new beginning of sorts, ready to enter the second half of 2020. And for me, that means it’s time for a new journal, new goals, and another fresh start.
July-December Bullet Journal Setup & Planning Process
For the second half of 2020, I decided to stick with a similar overall theme of navigation. But this time I took heavy inspiration from South Korean pop group ATEEZ. Many of their songs talk about going after one’s dreams in terms of searching for treasure, so my overarching concept for this journal is related to treasure hunting and adventure.
As I was trying to choose a quote from ATEEZ’s lyrics for the title page, I had too much difficulty narrowing down my choices, so I decided on this design which incorporates pieces from many of their songs. As the songs are originally in Korean, I had to rely on English translations, and I took the liberty to cut and paste the sentences into a somewhat coherent narrative.
I also included the same little mouse/rat that I had in my previous journal, since 2020 is the Year of the Rat according to the Chinese zodiac.
This was a new page for me to try, but I’ve already found it useful in setting up the other spreads. It’s a handy little reference page that makes it easier and faster to divide pages into sections.
I left the page next to it blank for now. I think I’ll probably use it as a collection for ideas or other information that I need written down, but don’t necessarily have a specific page for.
Since I only set up one month at a time in my journal, the future log is where I keep track of important dates and events happening in future months.
Originally, I had thought about including another quote or title here, but in the end I decided it looked better uncluttered and with as few labels as possible.
Goals & Vision Board
My current system of setting goals includes two pages. On the left side, I list out my top three goals for the coming six months, and break each goal down into smaller steps. On the right side I create a sort of vision board, where I write out little phrases that describe what I want my life to look like by the end of the six months.
To keep with my theme, I designed it after a world map, with a compass in the top left corner. I divided the circle on the left into three sections, one for each main goal. Then you can see I have sketched smaller circles inside the one on the right, as a rough estimate of where I will place the “items” on my vision board.
I decided to use this quote from Pirates of the Caribbean, because it fit with the theme, and because I think it illustrates really well the idea of smaller, concrete pieces making up a larger, more abstract dream:
“That’s what a ship is, you know. It’s not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails. That’s what a ship needs. But what a ship is — what the Black Pearl really is — is freedom.” -Captain Jack Sparrow
Printable Planner Pages
Don’t have time to draw out a goal planning page? You can download one from my free resource library! Sign up with your name and email using the form below to get access. You’ll also find weekly and monthly review pages there.
In my journal for the first half of the year, I drew out a compass shape, divided it into 12 months, and used that to map out a timeline of when I wanted to have accomplished certain goals. The problem, of course, was that 2020 happened, and things got in the way of almost all of those plans. So, while the page looks pretty, it turned out not to be very useful.
This time I decided to try a setup of two timelines. The top one I will use to plan out my (tentative) personal deadlines, and on the bottom I will keep track of when those things actually end up happening.
This is another new page that I threw in to fit the theme, but I think it will be a lot of fun to use. I plan to fill this page with a record of happy things that happen unexpectedly. Since the theme is treasure, my idea is to draw out the shape of a jewel or other precious item and label it with the event it represents.
The quote here says, “So let me ask you: What is your treasure?” It’s another ATEEZ quote, from the intro track of their first album.
My goal for this page is to remind myself that things not going according to plan doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.
These are pages to keep track of savings and recurring bills. In the past, I’ve kept track of bills in a separate finance tracker for each month, but I think it’ll be helpful to have all the recurring ones on a single page. And, on the left, the bottles serve as a nice visual of how much I’ve saved over time.
This is where I keep track of TV shows and how many episodes I’ve watched. I kept this very simple, because I like to color in a symbol that represents each show instead of checking off boxes.
Here’s an example of a completed DramaLog from a previous year:
When Did I Last…?
This is a handy little chart for keeping track of semi-monthly tasks. I track some habits on my monthly spreads, but these are things I only do once or twice a month, or every few months.
This last spread in my six-month set up is my mantras page. It’s another quotes page, but specifically quotes that have special meaning to me or that I want to remind myself of often.
And lastly, I have my July setup. It seemed fitting to start off with a starry theme, because it echoes what I did in January with stars and auroras.
This is my first time to use such a large calendar setup in a bullet journal. Before, I’ve had a much smaller calendar and listed out important dates on the right-hand page. But, since there are much fewer events happening these days, I decided it was a good chance to try something really new.
So here I have the main calendar taking up the majority of the space, with room underneath for projects and monthly goals. Then to the right I have my habit and mood tracker. I also created a little tab at the top with washi tape. In my last journal, I put tape down the entire edge of the first page of each month. I found it extremely helpful to be able to see at a glance where each new month began, but I decided to make the tab a little smaller this time.
Make This a Fresh Start
2020 didn’t start off the way we wanted it to, but it’s not over yet. Now that we’ve hit the 6-month mark, it’s a great time to re-evaluate goals and set a new course if necessary.
Another download you’ll find in my resource library is a worksheet to help you get back on track if your plans have been thrown way off-course.
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