I think I have found a way to stay on track – Bullet Journaling

I think I have found a way to stay on track - Bullet Journaling

In my back pocket, I carry a small Moleskine notebook* where I write notes as they occur to me. These notes may be from meetings, podcasts, books, or just random ideas I want to capture. Frankly, my notebook has been a mess, at least, until now. Yesterday, I tripped upon a method to help me stay on track better due to better note taking. We shall see how it works over the next couple of months. However, I was so excited about the discovery and potential that I wanted to share. 

This method is called bullet journaling. The system was create by Ryder Carroll. I learned about bullet journaling through an Evernote article on bullets.

Prior to this new method of taking notes and organizing calendars and tasks, my notebook was basically a mess with no organization and no sense of direction.

My messy journal
My messy journal

With this new method of taking notes, I have pages dedicated to collections such as books I want to read or applications that I want to try, a calendar of upcoming events, and a list of tasks that need to be completed and have been completed throughout each day of the month. Here is a video showing this method along with some websites that clearly explain how this method works:

As you can see each individual can personalize their method and basically make it their own. Even though I am now using the bullet journaling method, I have adapted it to my own way of working. Here are some essential elements of a bullet journal:

Index

One of the first pages you create is called the index page. The index page lists all the different collections, calendars, special note pages, and daily logs you have created as you start writing your journal. This will allow you to rapidly find all these various pages so you can continue to add entries or you can quickly find information later.

Index page
Index page

Future Log

The future log lists the various upcoming months along with specific tasks needing to be completed in those months. You basically create a page and divide it into thirds indicating a month for each section. You create as many of these pages as necessary as to reflect the whole year. Within each section, you add tasks as necessary so when you start working on your monthly pages you will have the information that you need.

Future Log
Future Log

Collections

In my case, after the future log, I created a collection page. I actually created a collection page to track my book wishlist. I have another collection page for applications I learn about. The nice thing about these collection pages is you can add a collection page on any blank page, as you come to it. You do not have to put them anywhere special. Naturally, ensure you add the collection page to your index page.

Collection Page
Collection Page

Month Page

On the month page, you number down the page for every day in that particular month. Next to each number, you annotate the day type, for example, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, etc. next to each number so that you understand what day it is. Next to these numbers and days, you will enter event entries or specific tasks you know that you need to take care of on that particular day. Below the last day, add major tasks you carry over from your future logs that you know you need to take care of during that particular month.

Monthly Page
Monthly Page

Daily Page

On the daily page, enter the month, day, and day type. You can either follow each previous section or start a new day on a blank page. You then start adding your various tasks, ideas, notes, research, contacts, etc. It is part to do list and part daily log. Use it as you see fit. Add information as it occurs to you. I just realized from looking at the picture below, I have a lot of stuff to do.

Daily Page
Daily Page

Before each entry, you indicate the entry type with a symbol. Here is a legend for the various types that I use in my journal:

My bullet journal legend
My bullet journal legend

As you complete a task, “X” through the task symbol to indicate the task has been completed. If at the end of the month you need to carry over tasks, you then will make the appropriate annotation and ensure the tasks get listed on the monthly page so that you know that you’re going to continue to work on them. This will help you stay on track.

Additional Tips

As you create a new page, ensure you add a page number at the bottom of the page. As appropriate, you will add the new page to your index page so that you can find this information later.

As you can see from the various articles I shared, there are many ways that you can keep track of your information. If you so choose, you can color code it, you can use stickers, you can save it into Evernote, etc. There are lots of great different ways of making this system work for you.

I’m excited to see how this works out for me. If anyone is doing this or anyone starts to do this I would love to hear your experiences.


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