The one thing that keeps me using the Bullet Journal method is that it is, at its core, a framework. There are basic elements to it and you can use them as best suits you. You can change how you use them as you and your needs grow and evolve. I’ve been practicing the method for nearly five years. Since then I’ve been a kind of BuJo (Bullet Journal) evangelist, helping others get and stay organized. Now that Ryder Carroll (the creator of this method) has published a book I thought it was a good time to highlight some of the unique ways I’ve adapted the method to my own world.
Note: I’m posting a “before and after” set of posts. I wanted to document how I’m currently using then journal, read the new book which arrived today (this link is to the collector’s set which is the book and a limited edition “stealth” version of the Leuchtterm journal, while supplies last), and then post what I plan to adopt based on the book. Stay tuned for Part 2. Also note, while you can use any notebook you want to use this method, preferably one with a grid layout, there is an “official” Leuchtterm1917 Bullet Journal notebook with very nice Bullet Journal specifics added to it.
Digital or Analog? Yes.
While I work in IT as my full-time gig, and generate content for digital distribution for fun, I’d say 99% of what I do begins in the analog world of my notebook. Some of the more important reasons include:
- Analog helps me focus. Because I don’t enjoy writing for extended periods of time, Bullet Journalling helps me condense everything down to the essential bits of information.
- Analog forces me to not focus on format and order and it just gets the information out of my head. I tend to get hung up on formatting and ordering to the point it bring actually getting the information out of my head to a halt.
- It gives the genuine impression that I’m paying attention and documenting what needs documenting. When I take notes or make tasks lists on my phone, I look like anyone else checking social media or playing a game.
- Analog is less distracting. It helps anyone who is trying to do anything where not being distracted is important.
Analog helps me focus. Because I don’t enjoy writing for extended periods of time, Bullet Journalling helps me condense everything down to the essential bits of information. #bujo #bulletjournalClick to Tweet
There are some things that are always digital.
- Calendar. While I might plan and list appointments in my BuJo (Bullet Journal) they always go in a digital calendar with an alarm. Repeating events also go in a digital calendar.
- Repeating tasks with alarms. Taking supplements throughout the day, a reminder at the end of the day to review tomorrows calendar, tasks in the future that aren’t appointments.
Once it’s out of my head and into a journal, it almost always finds it’s way to a digital home. But now I have a record of where it all came from in context.
Beyond The Bullet Journal Basics
As I mentioned, the point of this post is to share how I have adapted the BuJo method to my own needs. If you are unfamiliar with what be considered the basics, there is an embedded video and some links at the end of this post. Keep reading before you check those out.
I don’t rewrite everything that doesn’t get done on a day.
I tend to be able to get four to six days documented on a two-page spread. A purist would rewrite unfinished tasks from one day under the next day. Nope, not this guy. If a task doesn’t get done and I run out of space on one page/spread, that’s when I will rewrite it. In other words, if it’s visible on the page, I don’t rewrite it.
Date and page-number threading.
There is a concept called “threading” that is used to link Collections of information that aren’t on pages that are right next to each other. I’ve adapted this to tasks.
- Dates. If I have a task written on Tuesday and I end up finishing it on Friday, and that Friday is on the same spread, I will mark the task as finished and note Friday’s date at the end of the task so that I know when it was actually complete. If I see a date next to a task, I know it was completed.
- Page Numbers. If I have a task written on Tuesday that doesn’t get done that week, but I know it needs doing very soon, next to it I will write the page number for where it gets forwarded (see Move It To Monday below). If it isn’t urgent, I will migrate it to the Monthly Task List and note the page number. If I see a page number next to a task, I know it was migrated and not completed.
Move It To Monday.
Come Thursday or Friday, I know some stuff just isn’t going to get done that week. What do you do? Move it to Monday! I’m testing this one of two ways.
- On the next empty page I start a Monday list and forward all of the uncompleted tasks from that week to that list.
- Open to the next full blank spread and put the next actual Monday on the top left (which is how I start weeks anyway), and write them there, making sure to note the page number
When I was a full-time pastor I used to do Bucket Days. Each day of the work week had an area of focus. Monday was administrative day. Tuesday was meetings and planning day. Wednesday and Thursday were creative and sermon-prep days.
Now I find myself with an 8-5 job but with lots of project/hubby areas I want to do. I’m currently experimenting with Bucket Weeks.
- First week of the month – content creation. This is where there might be overlap with the other weeks, but I try to spend time writing and creating content that isn’t specific to the other areas I’m about to describe. Book ideas, story ideas, reviews of stuff I’m reading, using, or watching. New products/projects.
- Second week of the month – stand-up comedy. This week is about writing and performing at open mics. There is an open mic the second Thursday of the month I’m fond of so that’s why this falls on this week.
- Third week of the month – IT related. I still do some freelance work, and I’m starting to do some product reviews (content creation).
- Fourth week of the month – spiritual/faith related. I don’t have a good name for this, but basically I’m still a Bible teaching at heart and I like to create resources and write stuff that helps others grow as they follow Jesus.
- Fifth week of the month – either catch up on the urgent from the above weeks, or do something that isn’t generating anything. Read a book for fun. Build a model. House stuff.
- For each area I have a Collection where I track ideas, projects, and tasks.
Why not do these as Bucket Days? Because days can get away from you and you find yourself never working on the area that was planned for Tuesdays for too many Tuesdays in a row.
To help me remember which week I’m on I will write something like “Stand-up” or “Faith” at the end of the line where I wrote today’s date. (BTW, I’ve also started to draw a water tracker to track if I’m drinking enough water. I put this next to today’s date as well and fill in grid boxes with blue pen.) I also have a different highlighter color for each week and I will highlight the days of the week on the Monthly Calendar page so I know where I’m at.
Summary and Resources
- Everything starts analog.
- All calendar items go digital, as do recurring tasks, all with alarms.
- I don’t rewrite everything everyday.
- Page number threading for incomplete tasks.
- Date threading for completed tasks.
- Move It To Monday
- Bucket Weeks with themes and highlighters for visual cues.
Those are my consistent adaptations. I’m looking forward to reading the book and refining them.
Here are links to the book, the Collectors Set.
Here is the overview video of the Bullet Journal method and a link to the step-by-steps basics to get started. (I apologize if there is a huge gap between this and the video. It’s a glitch in this theme that is being fixed.)
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”