Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Balancing the To-Dos with a Bullet Journal

Thanks to the YNAB Forum, I have discovered and started using a bullet journal. Where have you been all my life?

I've tried so many methods to organize all my scrambled thoughts and to-dos, but the bullet journal addresses the flaws in every other attempt I've made.

It allows you one central place for everything. Instead of having one method for work and another for home (and one for non-profit activities and one for personal goals), I now put everything in the bullet journal.

Mine is so not fancy; it's a spiral notebook I received from a friend who works for the credit union that the cover advertises. But it totally works.

I don't use it exactly as described in the link above, but to my mind, I have simplified it.

I went ahead and added a monthly calendar as suggested, and on the accompanying page, I write tasks and events scheduled for that month. Then I just put all my notes, thoughts, to-dos under the heading of the day that I think of them on the following pages, and add a letter to the right so that I know if it's W (work) H (home) or something else. I add a down arrow to the left of a check-box for tasks that are low priority. I do use the first page as a Table of Contents (though next time, I think I'll leave the first 2-3 pages blank). I add to my Table of Contents while I'm watching TV or listening to a podcast. 

I like this system because anytime I think of something, I just add it to the Bullet Journal. I was reading about the Little Free Library in our local paper, and I just added a task "Look Up Little Free Library" - and then did so the very next day. Previously, I would've kept that paper to look it up later, then wouldn't remember why I was keeping the paper and hold onto it until I later either remembered or just threw it away.

It's a great brain-dump for anything and everything that goes through my crazy little head every day and night. I no longer have to chase down post-its (or try to remember what they mean) or find long forgotten task lists at my desk at work.  I put my non-profit activities, the girls' activities, my errands to run as I think of them. Then, when I have a moment of asking myself, "what's next?" I just look at my Bullet Journal and it tells me.

I don't bother to re-track things like work meetings in my Outlook calendar or phone numbers that already have systems. I have a couple prettier journals on my Wish List in Amazon, but I may stick to the spiral 5x7(ish) notebook because it fits easily in my purse and doesn't add a lot of weight - and I can keep a pen with it. I may upgrade to a notebook with a holder for things like paperwork that I want to remember to bring to work from home or vice versa.

I haven't used it every single day since starting it, but certainly more often than not. And I totally missed it the weekend I forgot to bring it home from work! Though I actually do like that it's analog because I don't necessarily remember to check my tasks or even create a reminder.

When you have responsibilities in multiple different areas of your life (and hey, who doesn't?), the bullet journal is quite effective in helping get everything out of your head, and your brain focused on the task in front of you. (And you can still multi-task by putting those random stray thoughts on paper!)

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