Bullet Journaling

on Life  

Whilst travelling in beginning of this year, I binge read productivity books and decided that 2016 would be all about focus. How well that’s actually gone is neither here nor there (okay mostly not there), but one thing I’ve found that makes a big difference is the Bullet Journal system.

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The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.

I’ve said before that I like physical, handwritten to-do lists rather than digital for actually getting things done, and this system is kind of a collated set of to-do lists with a bit more organisation. There’s a few basics to Bullet Journalling but everyone is encouraged to adapt it to their own uses. In the couple of months I’ve been using it, I’ve simplified it quite significantly to suit my personal projects and admin that always seems to pile up.

Here’s my version:

  1. At the start of the month, write a list of things to complete on a fresh page. Rewrite any items from the previous month that still need to be completed.
  2. Each night before sleeping write a list of items to complete the next day, referring to the big list for the month.
  3. Put a star next to the most important/urgent item on the list.
  4. On the day, go through the list, starting with the starred item if possible.
  5. If any items are left over at the end of the day, they can go onto the next day’s list or remain open for a future date.
  6. Use a fresh page for sketches/ideas/wireframes/plans/detailed lists.
  7. Keep an index at the beginning of the notebook for easy referencing.

I use the standard tasks bullets, and skip the future log and monthly log in favour of my big monthly to-do list. I use Google Calendar synced to my phone for appointments and events, so I generally don’t bother noting these down in my journal anymore. I’ve started to get a better gauge for how many things I can get through in my spare time before and after work – I try to keep it under 5 items where possible.

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It might seem like a waste of time rewriting an incomplete task into the next day’s task list, but it does force you to firstly consider why it didn’t get finished as planned (usually scheduling too many things) and secondly if it’s even important enough to keep rewriting each day, especially if it’s continuously getting put off.

Having an index is useful for me, because I tend to have pages that I’ll want to refer back to later – long term goals or ideas of things to make – that tend to otherwise get lost in the mess. I’ve switched to the Leuchtturm 1917 notebook for its page numbers and index pages, which make it ideal for Bullet Journalling.

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Have you experimented with analog task management systems, or are you firmly in the digital camp? If you want to give this a go, check out the Bullet Journal website.

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