I took most of the summer off from writing, but now that school is getting back into swing, it’s time to start thinking out loud again.
Back in May, I wrote about using a new to-do system to stay on top of my work.
Then, Robert Talbert tweeted. Again.
I did a Google search for “bullet journal” and I was down the rabbit hole. After a lot of reading and clicking, I agree with Robert’s initial assessment: most posts are about making your notebook look just right instead of working just right.
I’ve been playing with the bullet journal (you’ll see it called a bujo on most sites…I refuse to use that term) idea for a couple months and I now have a system that works really well for me.
One complaint about the journal is that it cannot possibly hold all the tasks that need to get done day to day, quickly becoming laden with redundancy and non-helpful pages. To mitigate, I use my digital todo list to manage the small tasks (which is actually one of the lessons in Getting Things Done) as a part of the larger project. The todo list helped me with the parts, the bullet journal helped me get the big picture under control.
I wanted something functional, which meant I needed something small. I had some old Field Notes notebooks lying around, which fit perfectly in my back pocket. Bingo.
Each book turns out to be just right for a month’s worth of work. So, each one is labeled with the current month out the front cover. It also provides a nice doodle space during meetings.
Field Notes flickr photo by bennettscience shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
Inside, I break up the first few pages into the month’s calendar and large project logging. After the index, I keep a couple pages for books I read that month, beers I drink, and blog posts to write. There may or may not be a correlation between the number of items on each list at the end of each month. Research is ongoing.
Task and activity logs flickr photo by bennettscience shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
Books, beer, blog flickr photo by bennettscience shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
My week setup is new to my workflow. Taking a spread and breaking it down into day to day helped me get my mind in order. Large project milestones and appointments tend to take up this space. I’ll take the project milestones and add them to my todo.txt file for completion as I move through the week.
Typical week layout flickr photo by bennettscience shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
The thing I do like about the bullet journal system is that you always have blank pages later in the book. I don’t have to cram everything in between pre-printed week layouts. It’s flexible and it works well for me, especially because my role is expanding this year, with lots of moving parts on a number of projects.
Other pages flickr photo by bennettscience shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
I’m in my third full month of the combination bullet journal/todo.txt list and I haven’t dropped many balls yet, which is good. I feel more prepared day to day, laying out obligations and needs on paper and then adjusting small tasks to make sure those get done.
No frills, no tweeting my immaculate page layouts, no discussion over what type of pen I use. Just a good, efficient, simple system to get stuff done.