I’m back after a social media detox with, as promised, an update on my first attempt at Bullet Journaling. Fair warning: this is my plain vanilla work #bujo so it’s a pretty banal example. It’s the no-frills poor cousin of the creative personal #bujo i’ll be starting later this month so it’s intentionally functional and not at all pretty – but let’s not hold that against it!
Going in, I was still a little confused about the Monthly Log. I got the date column, but I felt that having a task list here would only be a duplication of the task lists on my weekly spreads. If I do it again, i’ll simply make them ‘goals’ instead. Also, as expected, I very quickly hit the issue inherent in a list format: not enough space for multiple appointments. The Monthly Log was somewhat useful initially but as the month progressed and I moved further away from it I found myself forgetting to look at it.
The Weekly Spread is quite self explanatory and I really liked having an overview of my whole week. Much of my work is oriented by week so it makes more sense to track meetings and appointments on my weekly spread. I’ve ditched the monthly log for the month of April, but I like to be able to look 1-2 weeks ahead so I will try to incorporate a mini future log in my weeklies. The Future Log itself is something I didn’t really use but would actually be useful for some of the forecasting I need to do each quarter.
In my weeklies, there was still the issue of space and I experimented a little with different columns for different appointments. I plan to play with this more this month. I also experimented with columns on my dailies as I found a lot of tasks were action = response oriented. Initially I flagged these ‘waiting on’ items with a little triangle, but as the number grew it made sense to separate these into their own list:
In the third example above I tried to group tasks according to category. In theory this would help me work on a set of similar tasks at a time as per the time boxing method. However, this was only partially successful as I found it distracted me from those critical tasks since they were spread over multiple lists. I did like the idea though and will try this again.
A couple of times this month I made use of custom spreads for meeting minutes and – in this case – the offers I had going on. It was good to be able to group related ideas so i’ll definitely use more of these going forwards.
As planned, I attempted Mike Rohde’s Daily Plan Bar early on but I wasn’t very successful. I really really like the idea, and I think the added graphical element brightens up my otherwise boring pages, however I really struggled to stick to my hour blocks. I attempted it again a couple more times and last week morphed it into more of a habit tracker where I gave myself 15 minute periods. I really liked this latest version, however i’m so absent minded I forgot to fill it in! I’ve started it again in a simpler format this week in April (Featured Image at the top of this post) so will see how it goes.
One thing you might notice from most of these snaps is, despite the numerous completed tasks (X’s), there are also many migrated tasks (>’s). I seemed to be migrating the same tasks every day that were either important but boring admin, or more of a wishlist of spring cleaning jobs that I want to get around to one day. At this stage i’m thinking maybe a brain dump spread would go a long way to capturing these before I then add only the necessary tasks to my daily pages.
Has my attempt at Bullet Journaling been successful so far? I think so. I’m not sure i’m any more efficient (yet) but I do feel quietly confident that i’m no longer forgetting things. Everything goes in my #bujo so I know it’s reliable. Overall i’m just really pleased that i’ve managed to stick with it every day so far.
It’s also fit comfortably into my use of MSOutlook: I now drag emails into the Task List (Right-Click Drag, release, Move to Task List with Attachment) without worrying about setting Due Dates since these are in my #bujo. When I complete a task that’s also in my emails, I clear it out.
I enjoy setting it up each day and – time allowing – I can play around with the layout each morning before I sit down to work. Despite some days being better than others and some tweaks just not working out, I love the flexibility of the system: Every day is a new day and I can keep trying new things. If something doesn’t work, I simply turn to the next page and off I go again.
Going into April i’m keeping my weeklies and dailies (though I often forgot to set up the former in March!), while dropping the monthlies. I now have some line management responsibility so have started tracking a colleague’s priority tasks (it was he who defaced my lovely #bujo with that annoying red squiggle today!) and i’ll keep doing this. I’m tempted to make my dailies into a double page spread too because of this.
I plan to stick with the daily habit tracker and see if I can’t add some more embellishments to my basic dailies format. I’ve got the signifiers down now too so I might start playing around with those. Oh the possibilities!
Do you have a bullet journal? Any tips or tricks to share?