How the Bullet Journal enhanced my life substantially

Aug 09, 2019

Productivity
Career

What works for one person, might not at all work for another. That’s important in this story. This blog post is about me, about my experiences, and about how the Bullet journal technique saved my live and improved it in many ways.

First, let’s turn back the clock a couple of years. At this time I worked as a junior designer at a startup called Wopify. Here, my goal was to redesign a web platform that they really wanted to have as their main product. This was a lot for me. I was, and still am, completely self-educated in this area. Although I knew how to design pretty websites and applications, this was a challenge like never before. I was only 17 years old, and this company had 100’s of thousands of dollars invested in them by large and fairly famous investors. There was pressure.

When a human species find himself pressured staying organised is difficult, although critical. I did the opposite. I worked really long days, continued working when I got home, and never really progressed very much. This is because I did not have a system in place. Neither for my personal life nor my working life. It was very difficult for me to keep work and life appart. This led to me missing out spending time with family and friends. I didn’t really realise this during this period, and I imagine this happens to a lot of people — especially in the startup world.

This continued, although got better throughout the years. Since the company got more structured in the way my team worked, so did I. This was only really in my working life, and not in my personal life. When I woke up in the morning I never really knew what my first task of the day was. What my plan, or what goals I had for the day. When someone asked me: “What’s your plans for today?”, I didn’t know what to answer. I did know I had a lot of chores to get done but it was not clear to me what they were. I often had a lot of side-projects, tasks and things to complete, but it was never clear to me when waking up in the morning. This led to me often just spending the first hours of the day not really doing anything productive, watching countless YouTube videos and browse through design websites as well as GitHub’s explore page. And, around noon I would start to remember what my actual tasks were for the day and what I needed to tick off.

The discovery of the Bullet Journal

After watching several YouTube video’s about the Bullet journal I soon figured that I would give it a try. I started in a dusty old notebook I found in a drawer in my room. I went to the official Bullet journal website (https://bulletjournal.com) and watched a short tutorial on how to set it up. It fascinated me that there was this whole system in place that you could use anywhere to manage your tasks, reminders, events, and even goals! This could be done in a super fancy notebook, or piece of paper you found in the postal office. I started directly with journaling the same day, but it took quite some time to completely grasp the system. It’s a fairly extensive and the creator (as well as me) certainly recommend that you tweak it to make it your own. It’s not strict unless you want it to be.

Now I am going to try explaining how I bullet journal. I really encourage you to fist go ahead and explore the official website. They have a great inventory of complete tutorials and extensive documentation on how the Bullet Journal System works. After that, come back and read about my implementation.

My system

My way of journaling is fairly basic. I started with following the tutorials but soon figured I didn’t really find it useful to include every feature. I keep it baseline and focus on jotting down what I get done each day, day after day. I do this either the night before or the same morning. It makes me structured and I always get more done than if I wouldn’t have written it done. You might think: “I don not have time for that!”. Well, maybe, but I truly think you will save more time in the end if you constantly can check back in the journal and see what your next task is.

  • Index
  • Future log
  • Monthly view
  • Daily view
  • Project/Notes view

Index

The index pages are to first 2 pages. Here you make it easier to find content in the journal by marking which page a section starts at. Optimally you would also mark the ending of a month for example, but I found this to be more intuitive and quicker to navigate with. Since a month usually isn’t more than 5 pages and not difficult to navigate in. Here you can also see that not every line is month and that’s because the bullet journal method also allows you the jot down project specific ideas and specifications that are completely separate from a certain day or task.

Future Log

The future log is mostly for people who plan long time ahead. I don’t really like this, and therefor (as you can see) have left it empty. I find it difficult to know so long before what I have to get done or what I have planned. If you on the other hand run a business for example this could be very useful since you in that case need to plan long ahead into the future.

Monthly

The monthly planner I tend to use a little bit more frequently. This help get a little bit of an overview of what I need to get that month, and or what events I have planned to attend. To be completely honest I lack a little bit in the monthly view as well, but I do want improve on it.

Daily

The daily planner is were I really find the Bullet Journal system to really shine. With its predefined symbols and characters, jotting down what you need to get done in a day, what has been completed, what isn’t relevant anymore and what you will continue on another day makes planning my days really simple. This method that the Bullet Journal has implemented is called rapid logging. I have changed to front-arrow to instead act as a symbol for me doing the task the next day or later on in the week. Since I don’t use the future log or the monthly log specially much I found this to be more useful.

Project

The project view as a very open and free section. You can basically just pick any page you want and just jot down anything and everything. I find it really great to implement the rapid logging system into my project notes as well, since I already know how they all work more or less. In this example, I sketched down a database architecture for an integration with Medium actually, to use on a project I previously worked on.

My gear

It’s important to remember that you can use exactly which ever notebook and pen you want. You can add your own page numbers, grids and sections. Although if you want to save some time and make your experience more professional you should definitely check out the official notebook (https://bulletjournal.com/products/notebook)

The notebook I currently use:

(https://bulletjournal.com/products/notebook)

The pen I currently use:

https://www.penstore.se/pilot/bg-g-knock-07?gclid=CjwKCAjw1rnqBRAAEiwAr29II5aehBSeAZCoMBbMrtbzsNgHpraDYa-twr5Rf4Hngpj29sIn8zRWDRoCOqcQAvD_BwE

Conclusion

To read more in depth about bullet journaling and the rapid logging system I suggest you visit the official bullet journal website (https://bulletjournal.com) and read their great tutorial and dive deep into the documentation.

To conclude, I would definitively advise you to explore to concept of bullet journaling further. It has taken me far regarding structure and time-management in both my private, as well as professional career life. It will certainly enhance your life in the long run.


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