I have been using the Bullet Journal method successfully for an entire month and I feel more organized than ever before. I was first attracted to the artists versions of the bullet journal but it didn’t take me long to simplify. For me, the organizational powers of this method stand out and adding a creative component, even for a creative person, was stressful and time consuming. Once I dropped that pressure and just kept my lists and calendars, it became easy to maintain.
While a journal with only scribbles may sounds kind of bland and simple compared to a journal filled with art, it is beautiful to me. My book is full of line drawn calendars, to-do lists and notes. I take it everywhere I go. I am aware it is only February, but I haven’t missed an appointment or double booked my time yet. By seeing all my tasks broken down, I am more efficient and in fact, I have found time be creative and to start painting.
I sit down almost every evening, while watching tv and migrate my tasks. Migrating is the magic power of Bullet Journaling. It is the managing of your to-do lists by looking at the items you didn’t check off and deciding what to do with them. Do you move the task to the next day, eliminated the task or break it down into smaller tasks.
I set up my weekly calendar on Sunday evenings spending about 15 minutes of time migrating tasks and looking at the monthly calendar for that weeks appointments. I usually add a touch of color with washi tape or colored pencils. I like the feel of the weight the tape adds to the page and the color makes the weekly calendar stand out. That is about as artsy as I get.
The monthly calendar takes about the same amount of time. At the end of the month I create a simple calendar and transfer appointments from the future log (yearly calendar) to the new month. When I consider the time I use to spend wondering what I was forgetting to do and looking for where I scribbled a note, these are a few minutes well spent.
If you read books or blogs on Bullet Journalling, there are keys for symbols to use when migrating your to-do lists–lots of symbols. There are so many, that some people actually put a key for the symbols in their journal to remember what to do. Perhaps, there is great validity in the more complex method, but I have kept it simple to increase my odds of continuing the journal.
When I create my daily to-do lists, I put a small box next to each line. During the day, I check off completed tasks. Each evening, I migrate my list by evaluating the undone tasks. An arrow pointing to the right goes beside the tasks that are going to the next day’s to-do list. I do a straight up arrow if I am taking it off the list but want to keep it in my master goals and then I add them to the weekly or monthly notes to address later. If I decide I no longer want a task on any list, I draw a line through it.
Often a task is left undone because it is too big and should really be considered an event that is broken down into several smaller tasks. These tasks are marked with an arrow pointing left. I create a to-do list for that event and break down the tasks. It is listed on a page by itself and that page number goes in the index. Then, these smaller tasks are added to the next daily to-do list.
My journal style is a work in progress as I decide which parts of the method work for me and which don’t. The main trick is to stick with it, keep your book handy, use it for all your notes and lists. Nothing is too unimportant to be in the journal. My goal isn’t to complete every single task, but more to keep up with all the things I need to do or would like to do, no matter how small. By migrating the to-do lists each evening and creating the next day’s list, I get a glimpse of how productive I have been and I have the opportunity to evaluate why something isn’t getting done and do something about it. Sometimes the “do something about it,” is letting it go. And letting go of the right things is a powerful thing!
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