Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bullet Journal: First Impressions

I have been experimenting with a new-ish journaling "protocol". It's called the Bullet Journal and I'm really liking it so far. Watch this video for more information:

Bullet Journaling was created (or at least made public) by Ryder Carroll, a graphic designer in NYC. He synthesized a method for keeping track of notes, to-do items, and calendar events in the same place. I'm giving it a try to see if it will replace Evernote, which I use on my computer, iPad, and my Android smartphone. Here are my observations so far. It will help if you watch the video before continuing. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Index (or Table of Contents)
It's integrated. I no longer need a day-planner, a songwriting journal, and a prayer journal. They are all together in the same place. I can keep Bible study notes right there with my task list and calendar entries. If I want to start a collection (like a prayer list or a shopping list or a to-do list based on a larger goal), I just go to a new page and start it, making sure to log the page number of the collection in the index.

Monthly Calendar and To-Do List
It's non-linear. When I think of analog, I think of the old recording days when you would record to tape. It was linear recording. If you wanted to make edits, you would have to cut the tape and splice it back together. In the digital domain, recording is fragmented and non-linear. It makes editing easier. This journal is a hybridization of analog and digital. It is analog because it is pen-and-paper, yet digital because it is non-linear. If I am keeping up my daily calendar and I run out of room, I can turn the page. But what if there's a collection on the next page? I just go to the next blank page and continue there. That's why the index and pages numbers are so important. Here's a tip: If you have to skip a page because you've already started a collection on the next consecutive page, simply write "Continued on page ___" at the bottom of the previous page so you know where to go next.

Daily Calendar, To-Do, and Notes
It's not technology-dependent. I don't know about you, but I get tired of looking at my smartphone, or iPad, or my computer for that matter. After my job of 10-and-a-half years ended back in July, I have tried to break (or at least reduce) my tether to technology. I think the Bullet Journal helps me do that. It's a good practice for me to put pen to paper again. (I know it's ironic that I just typed that.)

Prayer List (could be any number of collections)
It helps me feel less busy and be more productive. In the recent past, I have gone without written objectives (aka goals) for the day, week, or month. Relying on my memory to create tasks based on my priorities, though, has failed me. I have found myself overwhelmed with all the things I think I need to do because I do not have an objective plan in order to accomplish them. I can be busy busy busy all day long and come in from my office without feeling like I actually accomplished anything. That is extremely frustrating and I am looking forward to seeing how bullet journaling helps that.

If you're interested in starting a Bullet Journal, you can find graph-ruled (also called squared, quad-ruled, or grid-ruled) journals pretty much anywhere. The cheapest way to get started is to get a composition notebook (you know, with the black-and-white marbled cover). I started out with a faux leather padded-cover 400 page journal. It's nice, but probably a little too large to be convenient to take everywhere with me. Once I fill this journal, my next one will be this one [affiliate link]. It looks like a better size for portability.

Do you think this system might work for you? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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