How often do you feel overwhelmed with your endless To-Do lists? Do you always feel like you are expected to make more out of your life, to deliver better results, to meet more personal and professional goals in less time that it actually needs? With the ever-increasing fast paced world we live in, it is no wonder that many people have 100 good ideas, 200 things to do and 1000 scribbled post-it notes with all these things joined and at the end of the day they never feel like they got anything done. How easy would it be to immediately list all the areas where you are not being productive? How to take control of your time thieves?
Stress became a word in our everyday vocabulary and it takes a heavy toll on our overall health and lifestyle (check this 3 week diet plan). It seems like we are constantly in a rush to solve our relationship problems, work challenges, health issues, housework… Do you feel me? If you do than you should definitely keep on reading because I’m about to explain to you the best method to organize your daily tasks, notes, long-term goals, events, thoughts and feelings, all into one place – your old school paper notebook.
Yes you read that right. I’m not talking about some electronic to-do app for your phone or computer that promises to help you stay focused and organized. If you are more like me and you simply love pen and paper but you have never found a planner that meets all your needs, than you should check the mind-blowing system called bullet journaling created by the smart Brooklyn-based designer Ryder Carroll. He spent 20 years mastering this technique so he could stay organized and then he decided to share his wonderful idea with the rest of the world. It even has its own website which you should read. Bullet journaling turns your notebook into powerful productivity tool that brings mindfulness into your daily life.
If you’ve been on Pinterest in the last 6 months you have probably stumbled upon to the internet craze that is bullet journaling. The journal itself can be any notebook you prefer, it’s the system that’s the best part. It’s actually a DIY diary, a place to dump all your tasks and thoughts and develop your creative side. It takes a little time to perfect and personalize you bullet diary skill but once you start you will never look back. For me it has revolutionized the way I work and how I feel about working.
You can learn more about it by watching the video below which explains the basics. If you don’t seem inspired just yet keep on reading to go deeper into details.
In relation to his method, Carroll says that traditional journaling wears out after two weeks, what causes people to bail out very soon, before it transforms into a habit. On the other side bullet journaling is based on rapid logging which enforce usage of short simple sentences, topics, bullet points and page numbers to keep it simple enough for you to stick to it. This method will simply teach you the best way to organize your to-dos, notes, projects, events and even your thoughts and feelings, into one single place. There is much more to this system than you might think. For an example there is a method to move your items from one month to another and an index that helps you find that particular page without having to flip through a lot of pages.
Here are your next steps:
Get a notebook and pen you really like. Remember that you’ll only need one notebook to put your whole life into it. Ditch your dozens half-started notebooks and put everything in one place. Then find some nice pen that doesn’t bleed because you don’t want to stain those beautiful pages, right!? If you want to write different items in different color, then you should decide about buying a set of 10 assorted colors. Next you need to do is create an index page that will help you find your entries even months after you created them. Next thing you should probably do is creating your key. Tasks are signified with a square, notes with a dot and events with a circle.
Turn to your first blank pages and add the name of the month on two pages. This will be your monthly calendar. The left will be your actual calendar so you should write all the dates on the left page and write the first letter of the day next to the dates. On the right page write the tasks, events and notes of the present day. You write all the things you need to get done in bullets. Keep in mind that the bullet journal gets its name from the bullet.
The symbols that you put in your key will help you distinguish a lot of data you write there. If you want to prioritize some item you can simply place a star to the left of it. When you are done with a task just check of the box next to it. If some item becomes irrelevant to you just strike it through. If you want you can get creative and mark the urgent tasks with exclamation mark, items that need to be researched with a little “eye” and so on. As you log tasks be sure to add them to that months calendar page, to have a good overview of what happened month to month. Here you can also put some big events like vacation or birthday parties you shouldn’t miss.
At the end of the month add the pages to your index page and create the next month calendar with only one significant difference; check the tasks in your previous month and if you find a task that still need to be done put a right arrow next to it and migrate it to the new month’s calendar. The arrow will remind you that you moved that item in the future.
Make your own rules
If you have some tasks that are related you should consider including specialized pages of anything you want eg. shopping lists, vacation to-dos, books you want to read in 2016, movies you plan to watch, health goals, financial goals etc. Daily logs will take a lot of spaces on the pages but the beauty of this method is that you can track anything you need to do to make your day works. Want to make sure you workout four times per week? You need remind yourself to drink 2 liters of water a day? The video shown above explains the basic formula for logging tasks but if you feel the need you can also include tracking of your hobbies, meditation classes, meals, walks, coffee breaks etc. Personalize your diary as much as you prefer. Keep in mind that you don’t want to clutter these pages with grocery shopping lists, or detailed job assignments unless they are really important to you. If you need to write more tasks about your college or work, than consider making another planner. The original bullet journal should represent your productivity growth and your personal wellness.
My last task of the night is usually some relaxing activity like reading a book or watching a TV show. At the end of the day I enjoy writing a grade for my day from A to F. This way I motivate myself to be more productive the next day. Then I write a little paragraph called “What am I grateful for today?” where I document the beautiful things that happened to that day like moments of joy, fulfillment and love. The last paragraph I call “What would I do differently today?” where I write about the things I want to improve in my work or behavior or some personal challenges and obstacles I want to overcome with positive thinking. If you have a creative soul like me you can consider writing down an inspiring quote of the day to cheer you up help you get through the week.
I’ve been bullet journaling for a couple of months now and it had already changed my productivity on a higher level. Some days are better that others, but that’s perfectly fine because we are humans, not robots. The whole point of keeping a bullet journal is to be more mindful of what you’re actually doing with your day. If you don’t like the calendar format for March that’s OK! Change the format next month! It’s totally up to you and you should keep in mind that you may need to use this system for a couple of months or so until you fully adapt to it. I take my bullet journal everywhere I go and now it’s like my best friend, always there to inspire me, to remind me about the things I need to get done and to remind me of the things I’m grateful for. If you are like me and you are in a constant search of inspiration than you’ll definitely integrate this journal into your routine in no time. Search the internet for some amazing examples and new ideas to try something new with your bullet journal once you get bored with it. If you have some cool techniques of your own, please share them with us in the comment box bellow.