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[Productivity] My First Bullet Journal

At the beginning of December I decided to reflect back on 2018 and all that has happened in the past year. This was more than reflecting on memories, life events, and other big ticket items (think Facebooks Memory feature). Instead, this was a chance for me to go through everything I had accomplished in the past year.

While I’d like to say that I had some big master plan for 2018, I have to confess that I wasn’t that productive. In fact, I went into 2018 having zero idea that I would move, big dreams for my business, high hopes of staying employed for another year, and a few other random “this is my year” type thoughts. What I did not have were any clearly defined goals, what I needed to accomplish them, no criteria for making them measurable and, ultimately, no way to track them in order to hold myself accountable.

Needless to say, 2018 was a bit of a flop.

Now, this isn’t to say that I didn’t accomplish anything in 2018. I had a very successful, albeit painful, stem-cell procedure done on both hips. I was promoted to management at my job. I moved to a new condo in downtown Dallas. All in all, it wasn’t what I would consider a horrible year. What I did not do, however, was make any real progress on my company, manage to hit my goal weight (or even get a regular gym routine down), nor really mark the year with any high-point achievements (other than my promotion at work).

So, what does a super OCD tech nerd do? I turn to Google. At the time, let’s say around the second week of December, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to achieve in 2019. The nagging question was, “How will I get there?” I must admit that I had formulated some very lofty goals…a total of three (four, if you count wanting to travel more)! Ambitious, right? Wrong.

You see, the problem with my goals they were so broad. I mean on the scale of “launch a successful company”, “hit a goal weight of 165-170 pounds”, and “push QuadraByte to the forefront of my priorities.” What do those mean? How do you measure them? How do you get there? All of these were questions I asked myself once I started looking at my little bullet list on an ugly, yellow sticky note. Okay…so the goal weight one is measurable, but that is about the only question I can answer for it.

I digress…queue Google, as mentioned above. The first place I started was making a To-Do list in Wunderlist for each Goal. This seemed pretty straightforward. As I came up with new tasks that were needed, I could just add them to the appropriate Wunderlist. Seemed fine, but how was I to track notes, progress, hurdles, decisions, etc.? I’d need a notebook. I’ve tried digital note-taking. OneNote, Evernote, Word, Google Docs, you name it and I’ve tried it (probably). While I’m a tech nerd, my OCD for note taking is very analog. In fact, I have only ever managed to successfully digitize my calendar.

So I didn’t want to keep a digital journal, and I really didn’t want to carry around a journal for each Goal. It just didn’t seem productive or adaptable. During all of this searching, planning, and trying to strategize how I could better 2019, I guess I hit some kind of cookie/keyword scraper that fed into an algorithm over at Medium (I love getting their E-Mails because you always discover something new in the digest of articles that they send you). One of the articles in my Inbox was about something called Bullet Journaling (or BuJo).

This concept intrigued me for a few reasons. First, I’ve already stated that I tend to take better notes and track better in an analog format. I’ve done notebooks for years, and they just always seem to work. Second, I liked that it had a method for tracking both professional and personal life in one book. Third, it was not only adaptable but I could expand it. I wasn’t limited to one notebook for the year.

I’d like to say I found the magic bullet and that I was all set for 2019. Was I ever mistaken. Have you heard of Bullet Journaling? Ever looked it up on Google, Instagram, or seen it on Pintrest? Let me tell you, it is complex. All these journal artists showing off their pretty drawings, their bubble writing, something something called washi tape. It was almost enough to discourage me from using it and going back to the drawing board. However, I continued to search different keywords on Google and reading how all of these successful people were using the Bullet Journal. It soon became clear to me that, while there is a pre-defined method on the official website, the journal is all about being a reflection of you and how you think.

With this ah-ha moment, I was back on board with the BuJo cult. I set aside 5 pages (counting front and back as a page, not a sheet of paper) for my Index and created a quick “key” on the front inside cover for Tasks (and their various statuses), Events, Notes, and a few symbols to note different things about entries. Armed with an Index layout that would work for me, and a quick and easy Key that doesn’t require me to be super artsy, I numbered my first 20 pages and turned to page 1…Goals for 2019.

I’ll confess that I sat on page 1 for some time, staring at this empty page and wondering if this whole Bullet Journal thing was even going to work for me. Finally, I cut off the bottom page about six lines from the bottom and put “yearly” in neat print at the center. The rest of the page I broke into four even boxes and put Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4 in each box. I now had a way to track up to twelve yearly goals, very high level, and a way to break those yearly goals down into measurable tasks each Quarter. The point is that anything that goes into a Quarterly goal is a segment, or chunk, of what is needed to complete my yearly goal.

The first step in preparing for 2019 was complete. I had a method in mind that I liked, it fit my personality, and the layout is in place. I have some ideas, and rough sketches on scrap paper, of how I’ll approach the rest of the BuJo. As I already said, I am a digital calendar person so I doubt I’ll be using the concept of Monthly sections. I do know that I plan to adapt the Weekly concept to include Weekly goals that will push towards my Quarterly goals, and a habit tracker to try to build some healthy habits. I also have a pretty good idea of how I’ll take notes for ideas, blog posts, projects, conference calls, meetings, etc. Beyond that, anything that comes out of the BuJo will be a stroke of creation at the moment.

To say that I am pumped and ready for 2019 is an understatement. I truly hope that I have found a method that will help make my year better. Even if there are pitfalls and unexpected events, I am hopeful that I can keep the year on track with a better method for tasking and measuring.

Do you BuJo? Feel free to post your ideas, links to your Instagram, or your feedback in the comment section!

So, what do you think ?