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Bullet Journal - The Analog Method for the Digital Age

 
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I just discovered the bullet journal and am waiting patiently for the book to arrive from the library.  It looks like I'm not the only one as there are twenty copies and over 400 holds.  It's going to take a while.

It looks like a great way to keep track of all the things I have to do.  I'm having a lot of trouble the last few months with time.  There are only 24 hours in each day.  I want to use these hours better but sometimes I'm lost as to how to prioritize the tasks that need doing.  Enter the bullet journal.



I first learned about bullet journalling here where the author breaks tasks down into sprints.  Something clicked and I suddenly wanted to try this for myself.  


Anyone here use the Bullet Journal technique?  
 
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Reminds of the "Fly Lady" site that is all about easy ways to deal with house cleaning.

Basically it breaks things up into short tasks that are easily accomplished in 3-15 minutes to keep people focused and prevent them from feeling so overwhelmed they don't start at all. The benefit being there is an organized list of short tasks and it provides a dopamine hit every time a small task is finished, plus it keeps people from getting distracted and focusing on tasks that delay the original goal (i.e. spending 2 hours cleaning and organizing the kitchen drawers when the goal was to make the kitchen look nice for company).
 
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I like the idea of breaking projects into sprints.  This is from the aritlce I linked to above

Breaking down long-term goals into smaller, self-contained goals can turn what seems like a marathon into a series of Sprints. Sprints cover the same ground, just in shorter, more manageable intervals. This technique is a slightly adapted variation of a similar approach deployed in agile software development, but it can be powerful for tackling any type of goal. Even more modest-size goals can usually be broken down into smaller goals that can fit into the most impatient person’s life (I fit that description).

...

How are Sprints different from just dividing a goal into phases? Unlike phases, which are not ends in themselves, Sprints are independent, self-contained projects—thus the outcome is, let’s hope, a source of satisfaction, information, and motivation to keep going





Sprint requirements:

1. Have no major barriers to entry (nothing preventing you from starting). For example, to learn knife skills, you don’t have to purchase an entire expensive set of chef’s knives. You just need a basic kitchen utility knife that you may already own or can buy with minimal investment.
2. Consist of very clearly defined, actionable Tasks. Your knife skills might be broken down into holding a knife properly, sharpening, peeling, slicing, dicing, cubing, mincing, and so on.
3. Have a fixed, relatively short time frame for completion (should take less than a month to complete, ideally a week or two). Just making a salad several days a week and mastering a simple vegetable soup recipe would get your knife skills up to speed pretty quickly.

 
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raven ranson wrote:I like the idea of breaking projects into sprints.  This is from the aritlce I linked to above



If you can't wait for the book there are lots of articles online that can get you started.  https://blog.amazingmarvin.com/break-large-projects-tasks-bite-sized-tasks/

Often doing just the first little task gets the ball rolling.
 
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This works in so many situations. As a cycling fan, I always tell people how you should not fear a 100 mile ride and get overwhelmed and demotivated, but instead break it down into 10 manageable pieces so instead of one fat loss you get 10 victories, each one motivating you to go forward.
 
r ranson
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From here
 
r ranson
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Here's my favourite how to video so far

 
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The 'sprint' approach is identical to what my Dad used as he aged and couldn't do hours of strenuous gardening. Though it seems he likely used the same system when he was a young country lad.

He called it 'worrying'.

For example, we had a large multi-branched melaleuca tree in the front yard that decided to partially uproot itself.

Over several weeks he would cut off bits here and there until only the stump remained, then systematically cut through the roots with a spade; finally he built a small fire underneath it to dislodge the last big roots.

Voilà, he 'worried' it out of the ground!

I think the term originated in the Oz rural regions - work was often very hard and the weather dusty, hot and dry, so stuff would be done over a period of time to avoid health issues. It's also an ingrained part of the Australian psyche to do things like that - motivation is achieved in doing the small steps, not the big picture.

It's a good idea, particularly when there's a lot of unknowns or variables, because it allows plans to be progressively modified to achieve the desired outcome.


 
pollinator
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Please note that my first goal in my 5 goals for 2019, is to keep a journal.
 
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I am intrigued to learn that I have been unwittingly practicing a dumbed-down version of this for a while now.  

Around the beginning of each year I will purchase a large (8.5 x 11-ish) planner, with each week laid out as a two-page spread and large spaces dedicated to each day.  I will typically start a list of the things I need/want to get done that week, then start assigning them to specific days, and even specific times of day if necessary.  Things that don't require being done at any particular time are shoehorned in wherever they'll fit, or may just remain on the 'master list,' being copied into the next week, until they get done.  It's interesting to look back on occasion at the things that I 'needed' to get done that never actually got done because, as it turned out, they weren't that important after all.

My even more dumbed-down version, which usually I practice for the first couple weeks (or months) of the year, before things really get busy and I convince myself that purchasing a planner would make a difference, is to take a simple legal pad, write "Week of ____" across the top, and spill my brain onto the lines below.  Just writing it down helps a great deal, by freeing up my brain from the necessity of remembering everything.  Then I'll go down the list and put a letter next to the most pressing tasks, to indicate the day of the week they would best be done on.

It is immensely gratifying and motivating to look at a page with all sorts of tasks with a line through them because they have been completed.  And if I happen to do something significant that wasn't on my list, I'll write it down and immediately cross it out.  I want credit for it!

I have also found it useful to break tasks down into sub-tasks (or "sprints") as mentioned above.  Rather than write, say, "Plant 10 apple trees," I try to make a point of breaking it down as far as is reasonable: "Purchase 10 apple trees," "Prepare planting holes for trees," "Transplant apple trees."  Those are distinct tasks, which can be completed at different times, so breaking them down as such makes completing the 'big' task look less daunting.
 
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I'm trying out a Bullet Journal for the first time this year... I have had a life-long hate/hate relationship with to-do lists, planners, keeping appointments, etc...
I also feel myself floundering. Notes and sketches on random paper, multiple projects at once that when worked on again are as much reacquainting myself (oh yeah, I needed a part to continue?) as making real progress...

Starting was the first hurdle. Keeping it with me, another... (it is not today). Actually journaling, another still... BUT it holds promise!
 
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My wife LOVES her bullet journal! - keeps her mind/life organized and she handletters/watercolors titles and such, incorporating the beauty and relaxation of artistic creation into a quick, easy, and functional outlet.

Recently she got an iPad and found a program to bullet journal and letter there to try it out, and transitioned her physical bullet journal into a writing/study notebook, using the same concepts.
 
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I am now practicing with Bullet Journal spreads. It is even more fun than I thought it would be!

I am amazed at the motivation I get from checking in the blocks in my monthly routine and habit tracker pages. It's just what I need to kick myself in the pants to get the repetitive tasks of my life done day by day, and feel a sense of accomplishment when I've done them.

Also I have a reading tracker for each book I'm currently reading. This is the coolest thing, especially when I have Anthony Trollope's novels on the "to read" list!
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Rachel Lindsay
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I just love planners.(*) I've started a new Dot Journal for the upcoming academic year--the off-the-shelf one I had last year doesn't seem to be made anymore. So, this notebook allows me to create an even better version myself!

I need a month-at-a-glance spread for each month, and a weekly spread per page between the months spreads, and then a notes page at the end of each month. I think this is going to work very well for me!


* At the end of August I will have a daily planner for everything I do, a homeschool planner to keep track of my daughter's everything education-related, and this one to keep track of my online teaching. It's so fun to need multiple books! I love them all.
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Rachel Lindsay wrote:I just love planners.(*) I've started a new Dot Journal for the upcoming academic year--the off-the-shelf one I had last year doesn't seem to be made anymore. .


Drives me crazy but it seems that every year the off-the-shelf planner that I was using isn't being made anymore and I have to adjust to a new layout.  I already make my own wall calendar sheets (no pretty images, just the calendar part) and pretty soon I think I'm going to start making my own journals so that I have the perfect format.  Many printing companies will bind one copy (wire-bind or plastic coil), so that's not a problem.  

I like my calendars to show me birthdays/anniversaries and moon phases, also to show me when it's time to plant, fertilize, harvest, etc. in the garden.  But I also like a clean view.  So I print the moon phases day's numbers in blue for at-a-glance purposes and the date/time of the exact phase change on a line below the calendar.  Why?  I have no idea -- I never look at the exact time but if I wanted to know, there it would be. Birthdays and appointments that I know of in advance of printing the page are in dark colors, so as to not be too distracting. [note that the calendar image shown doesn't have any gardening info yet -- calendar pages are a work in progress still!)

The journal will be more complex.  I have a ten year journal that's already bound (this is my second decade of using them) but that only provides an inch of writing space per day so it's an overview -- still great to go back through but it doesn't have enough room for all I want to put in it.  The layout of the store-bought daily planner I use now will be a starting point for the layout of the annual journal, where I can write more and I have spaces for specific information I like to keep, like weather observations.  I will keep the daily planner's small profile just because of the space it takes up on my already-full desk.  

I'm glad I found this discussion in the permies forum because I forgot that I would be hunting for another annual planner in a few months and I'd be frustrated.  I can start designing my planner now and have the perfect planner ready to go before January 1!
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Sample calendar page - August 2022
Sample calendar page - August 2022
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Daily planner + 10-year journal
Daily planner + 10-year journal
 
Lif Strand
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Here's a link to an interesting page about bullet journaling that also provides templates for making printable journals.
https://www.vertex42.com/calendars/bullet-journal.html
 
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I love my bullet journals.   I've been doing this in many forms for a few years now, and it's become streamlined to my needs and uses.  

I order a custom ring bound journal from plum paper with dotted pages.

I do a monthly spread and tab the page edge with washi tape (craft masking tape in pretty colors).    One one side I have an appointment list,  on the other a block style tracker for all my bills/budgets for both home and work.   Broken into four weekly blocks so I can space out payments, check them off when done, and cross out the whole week block when paid.  

Under that right now,  I'm running a monthly tracker for gas, grocery, and dog food expenses.   Once I have some data on that,  I can set some budgeting goals.

After that,  I just keep running to do lists,  without trying to break it down by day anymore.  I used to.   I find it isn't useful enough for me to make it a priority so it just fell off.

Numbering pages and keeping a table of contents is good and was useful, but again, not enough to keep it a priority so my current journal doesnt have that either.  

I love the flexibility.  I love that I can always add trackers and other things as/when I want or need them.   I also use pages freely to sketch out any design ideas as needed, whenever I need pen and paper to do that.  

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Rachel Lindsay
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Sometimes I want to plan without laboriously making my own spreads. So I love using Day Designer planners when I want pre-made planner pages--I love this company's aesthetic and layout, and all the goal-setting and project management pages. They have all their pages available for free download, too, if you give your e-mail address: Day Designer Free Printables Library. Treasure-trove for planner lovers!
 
Rachel Lindsay
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I have now got something better than my original reading tracker layout as seen above!

Observe what can be done with a dot-grid sticky note:
Sticky-Note-Reading-Tracker-Copy.JPG
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