Working Tools 18. – Bullet Journal Update

Working Tools 18. – Bullet Journal Update

At the end of this month (April), I will finish my third consecutive bullet journal. I started here. Six contiguous months, planned, noted, bulleted, journaled. Six months counts as a consistent practice and I feel qualified to write a review.

Bullet Journal Update

What works?

By far the biggest win for me, is how the practice fits into a morning routine. The morning routine is beloved of productivity gurus and enthusiasts. I once bought access to a course on the morning routine, and when we got to the section on “go to the bathroom”, I realised that I may, with no formal tutoring, be a guru myself. I have been regularly going to the bathroom for years. That aside, getting the day started right certainly beats getting the day started wrong.

Morning routine

Leaving out the bathroom, my days starts with an espresso (or more likely two) and my journal. I write the date and then my first note of the day, which is always a gratitude note. I simply write one thing for which I am grateful. Isn’t that nice? Try it. You might be surprised. It does make you feel good.
From there, I’m automatically jotting “To Dos”, reviewing calendar events, just getting an idea of how my day is going to unfold. Once I am down in the office, I will more formally review the previous days – and check if there is anything that I want to migrate forward; either an uncompleted task, or a note that I took. At this point, I will decide which of my tasks are priorities, my “must-dos”. These, I mark with an asterisk.

At that point, the journal gets closed. I don’t constantly refer to it during the day. In many ways, it is the act of the practice that is important, rather than the output. An analogy might be that the journal is an old-fashioned road map rather than a satellite navigation system. I look at the map before I set off.

Reference

Generally, I start the day with creative tasks. I stay away from e-mail and social media, lest my day start by other people prioritising my day for me. As I go through the day, I do sometimes refer back to the journal, either to check completed tasks off or to make a note. At some point, I will review “inbound”, where there will undoubtedly be tasks for me to deal with, note or ignore.

Evening routine

In theory, I review the day and make the odd note. Often, I don’t get to it. It is a lovely way to close the day out, if I can be disciplined enough to do it, but sometimes, well, life happens.

What doesn’t work?

Collections

I have some that I setup at the beginning of each journal, but adding to them does not come naturally to me, I’ll concede. I also create some on the fly, when I have need. At a conference that I recently attended, rather than using the pad provided for notes, I created a collection in the journal. Similarly, I have drafted blog posts in the journal – rather than carry around another notebook.

Bullet Journal Update

Conclusions

Ryder Carroll, the guy behind #bujo gets a bit of stick. Some suggest that his book on the subject goes OTT on what the system can do for you: “Bullet Journal to the rescue!” One can see where people are coming from, but I get the impression that Ryder is self-aware and maintains a balance between promoting the system and staying humble. I find my bullet journal practice helpful and will continue it. I will customise it and evolve it, which is exactly what Ryder suggests you do.

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Working Tools – 4. Bullet Journal

You may know that I run Nero’s Notes, where I sell notebooks and the odd bit of stationery. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that I use quite a lot of notebooks myself.

I am resolved for 2019 to keep a bullet journal, or indeed, a series of them. If you are not familiar with #bulletjournal, where have you been? That aside, go check out this excellent overview from the man that created the system. You can read about my earlier experiences with the journal here.

Quarterly System

I have decided to use one book for a quarter, at which point, I will move on to a new one, regardless of how much space remains in the current book. This is a departure; typically I flog a notebook until every single page is covered.

Why the change?

It’s all related to goals and flexibility. I do like a bit of goal setting. Traditionally, I draw up a list of annual target and goals for each area of my life, the hope being, that these will guide my every action throughout the next twelve months. It may be my age, it may be the scale of my endeavours, or it may be the modern world – but I now find that twelve months is a very long time. Therefore, I’m splitting the year into quarters, and setting goals for thirteen weeks rather than fifty two.

I will still consider the outcomes that I’m hoping for at the end of 2019, but in terms of actionable items, I’m going to focus on just the first quarter. As that quarter comes to an end, I’ll conduct a review and set targets for the next three months. There is nothing original about this approach – I’m sure that I have read it in several different places and guises. However, I’m just co-opting the time frame, in an effort to keep my goals relevant to my reality.

My goals are more diverse now, than they have ever been. There’s Nero’s Notes, Lime Training and Consultancy, this website, 1857 and my novel – just in the ‘Work’ sphere. Breaking things down into quarters forces me to focus on small, “doable” actions. This, I hope, will help ensure that my goals do not overwhelm me and become irrelevant.

Migration

A part of the bullet journal method involves a process of migration. From day to day, month to month or even journal to journal. This is a kind of enforced review and will keep reminding me of the goals set. That is not to say that they cannot change, only that if they do it will be something that happens with intention, rather than by default.

Furthermore, having lots of pages available in each journal will encourage me to make more notes. This is in part inspired by the concept that when looking to have a good ideas, a great way to get going is to focus on having lots of ideas. Joey Cofone, CEO and co-founder of Baron Fig, reminded me of this on a productivity podcast that I listened to just the other day.

Conclusion

You can find my 2019 set up here – and I will continue to update here on the site (category Journal), for better or worse.