Earlier this year I took a page from my supervisor’s book and started keeping my lists and notes in a journal. This came after years of loose leaf to-do lists bound together in 6 month increments with binder clips. (I know what you’re thinking: what a fast learner!) I had developed a system for myself wherein my to-do lists were broken down by the hours each task would take to complete, with checkboxes to track my progress throughout the day. I drew boxes around meetings and appointments. I drew circles with arrows pointing toward the next day around items that didn’t get completed. I took notes in meetings and brainstorming sessions, writing headers at the top of the page so I could ostensibly have an easier time finding those notes later. It worked…it just didn’t work as efficiently as another system.
I had heard about Bullet Journaling, but I hadn’t seriously considered it because a lot of what you see online makes it look more like intense scrapbooking and documenting feelings than a time and task management system. I didn’t want to deal with a color coded system, flowery lettering, and washi tape. After looking further into the system, I found that all you need is a writing utensil and a notebook. Aspects of the system paralleled my own, but Bullet Journaling had a key element that I lacked – an index.
Bullet Journaling is now my time and task management system of choice at work. The rapid logging method forces you to be concise and quick. The index makes the system flexible and efficient because you don’t have to leave empty pages to keep notes on a specific topic all together, guessing at how much space you’ll need. The notes can be spread out on nonconsecutive pages, whose page numbers are added to the index, making it easy to find exactly what you need later. The future, monthly, and daily logs allow you to express projects in their big picture and small picture forms.
I’ve ditched my own checkboxes, meeting boxes, and circles for the Bullet Journal’s bullet system of dots, dashes, and circles to represent tasks, notes, and events, respectively. I’ve adopted the signifiers to indicate importance “*,” inspiration “!,” and further research needed “ʘ” (that’s the best “eye” I could find). When I have to push a task to the next day, I draw a “>” over the dot, and when I have to push it out further, I draw a “<,” and write it in my future or monthly log. When I complete a task, I draw an “X” over the dot with great satisfaction. REALTORS® perform 184 tasks for clients! Why not bullet them?
It took less than an hour to set up the journal, and about a week to get used to the new set of symbols. The only trick to any system of this sort is keeping up with it. It has to be a daily habit. The payoff is being able to find notes quickly, see long term and short term goals at a glance, and not wasting time approaching projects too broadly, but taking the time to break them down, schedule the tasks, and complete them in an orderly fashion.
Bullet Journaling was created by Ryder Carroll as a personal system to organize his own life, and he chose to share it. Do you have a system that works for you?
Keep in touch and informed: Follow Information Services on Twitter (@asknar) and Facebook (NAR Information Services). Contact us next time you have a research project or question toll-free at 800.874.6500, email@example.com, Skype narinfoservices, or text AskNAR to 66746.