Productivity, Here I Come: Starting a Bullet Journal!

Just a couple of weeks ago, I posted about my to-do list conundrum. I’m a lot busier these days, and I’ve been desperate to find a single journal/planner/to-do list method that would work for everything. Something I could use for work, for personal things, for my writing WIPs – for my LIFE, basically.

I couldn’t find a single productivity app or method that seemed capable of doing what I needed it to do. When I wrote the post, I’d decided to just go back to the DIY planner I’d made last year, as it was in a nice Moleskine and was still partially blank. And I would just date stamp the pages and put my to-do lists on there.

I had lovely comments on that post, some of them with great suggestions. I really liked Bernadette’s description of how she uses Remember the Milk (RTM), so I set up an account there, and downloaded the app. (I love the way you can have repeat tasks on RTM that are based on a time period "after" you last performed the task – their example was, "clean out fridge three months after cleaning out the fridge", which I thought would be pretty awesome for a lot of household chores.)

But RTM didn’t work as well for me because of all my lists. Not to-do lists, but just lists of things, whatever things happened to be on my mind. I do that list thing a lot, you see. And you definitely can use RTM to make lists, but on the iPhone app, if there’s no set due date for an item (which I wouldn’t have on a "books to read" list, for example), you have to choose "never" and I didn’t really like the sound of "never".

So I searched around for some list apps for the iPhone, figuring I’d just use that in conjunction with RTM and Google Calendar (with which RTM syncs really nicely) and ended up downloading an app called Quick Drafts, which has the ability to turn any list you make on it into a to-do list.

And there I was, all set to be super productive. And guess what? It didn’t work. There were too many pieces to my system and the only thing I really used was Google Calendar because I’ve got so many deadlines and I find some days I’m having to scare myself into working by pulling up a monthly view of my calendar and staring at it.

Then, this past weekend, I came across this: the Bullet Journal. I actually discovered it when I was searching (yet again) for a productivity app on my iPhone. One of the apps I was looking at included a line from someone’s review in the description, and the review said something like, "If you use the Bullet Journal method, this might be an app you could use in conjunction with it."

That had my head spinning. Bullet journal method? What the heck was that? So then of course I had to Google it, and I found the site, and I watched this video:

And I was hooked. I was so hooked I spent another couple of hours searching Google to see how others had implemented the system, because it’s such a flexible system and I was in the mood for more tips and ideas. Unfortunately, not too many people seem to have written about their own personal implementation of the method.

I did come across some cons of the system, like not being able to plan ahead, but honestly, I plan to do forward planning in my bullet journal and it seems easy enough. I figure when I have something that comes up in the next month, I’ll just add that month’s page right then and there, even if it might be a few weeks away. Since the index is the fabulous thing that holds the bullet journal system together (and you can imagine how much I love that, being a professional freelance indexer and all), all I’d have to do is add that month to the index and away I go. If I got at all concerned about being able to find the various monthly calendar pages (I probably won’t, but anyway …) I’d just highlight them in the index.

Anyway, I was so thrilled and excited by the Bullet Journal method, I immediately rooted through my stash of notebooks to see if I had just the right thing. Only to discover I didn’t have a blank Moleskine of the type that I wanted – the hardcover squared, in large (which is about 5" X 7"). So I ordered it then and there.

And it just arrived today!

I will be happily occupied getting my life completely organized over the next few days. (Well, I’d settle for nearly completely organized. Actually, who am I kidding? Even partially organized will do.) I even plan to do bullet-point journaling in it. I’m really hoping the Bullet Journal method is exactly what I’m looking for. One place for all those notes, lists, scribbles, ideas, thoughts, to-dos and events. Plus Google Calendar, of course.

11 thoughts on “Productivity, Here I Come: Starting a Bullet Journal!

  1. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    I don’t have everything in one place either. Siri on my iPad keeps all my lists and I use the calendar feature for personal and musical stuff, but my blog calendar is in a notebook by my desk.
    Hope the bullet calendar works for you.

    Reply
  2. charlesgramlich

    I’ve been keeping a journal for a lot of years now but I always keep it electronically, which makes it easy to search for specific dates or events. I often forget the dates but can find them again by searching key phrases. My handwriting is also so bad that I couldn’t read my writing after six months if I did it by hand.

    Reply
  3. Charlie

    Glad you found something that works perfectly for you :) That’s one of those awesome things about the internet, so many options whereas before there were a few or, if you were unlucky, one. For me it’s a combination of paper (I like ticking things off or ruling through them with a flourish) and digital documents.

    Reply
  4. Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

    I saw that Bullet Journal video awhile ago and was totally enamored with it. But I couldn’t find much online about how people were using it and if it was working for them, so I couldn’t quite figure out how to make it work for me. I hope you’ll share photos/info/updates about how it’s working once you get started!

    Reply
  5. Bernadette

    Sorry RTM wasn’t for you but I’m really glad you’ve found a solution that seems like it will work – it’s definitely the hardest part of any “getting organised” scheme and I do think it’s as individual as DNA. I look forward to hearing how you manage and adapt the bullet journal idea.

    Reply
  6. Lavender

    That’s how I found your post…I was searching for ideas on how others do forward planning with bullet journaling. I would love to hear your thoughts on the system now that you’ve used it for a while and what modifications you’ve made.

    Reply

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