Wednesday, January 9, 2019

TIOLI: Number One With a Bullet...Journal, That Is

Welcome to my first Take It Or Leave It report! I've never really been one for personal journaling, but last year, in my perennial quest to be better at tracking my time and activities, I bought a planner--7 rings, loose-leaf calendar pages, shiny plastic dividers and pockets. The works. I stuck with it for the most part, and I think it helped me be more organized. At the very least I had a place to collect all the little bits of paper flotsam--receipts, fortune cookie wisdom, appointment cards--that somehow become important in my life.

This year, I'm trying to refine my technique even further using the Bullet Journal method developed by digital product designer Ryder Carroll. Full disclosure: I'm not exactly on the cutting edge here, folks, as the Bullet Journal, and systems like it, have taken social media by storm over the past few years. Though Carroll's occupation implies that the BuJo® (as it is also known but I will never call it) is a digital product, it is actually a pen and paper notebook system. (At one point in the tutorial, he referred to it as analog, which cracked me up. I'm not old; I'm just analog.)

The shorthand of the system is called Rapid Logging, which allows for quick, brief notations. In the spirit of the process, I will break the general concept down in a bulleted list:

  • Begin with a blank journal.
  • Designate index, monthly, and daily pages as instructed.
  • Track tasks, events, commitments, and ideas using the differentiated bullets: a dot for a task, a circle for an event, a dash for a note. Asterisks and exclamation points signify special entries.
  • Follow up with items as needed. Cross off if completed, strike through if irrelevant, migrate to a different date if necessary.
There are a few other guidelines and details, such as using an index and compiling collections, but not many.  

I spent last week getting acquainted with the Bullet Journal. As someone who has a tendency to overthink things, I'm pleased with its simplicity. In fact, the website describes the methodology as "a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system." It is structured yet flexible, with quite a bit of wiggle room.

Because I had already purchased my 2019 binder pages and didn't want to waste them, I'm not using a notebook, but I am able to insert blank pages as necessary. So far, I've added two symbols to personalize my notations--a heart for gratitudes, and a droplet for exercise--and I imagine that I will continue to tweak things until I arrive at a system that feels right for me. (But I'll probably skip the companion app.)

And the TIOLI verdict...after seven days, I can say that the Bullet Journal is a definite Take It for me.

I'd love to learn about your experiences with bullet journals. And I hope you'll join me next Wednesday for week two!


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