My bullet journal obsession is no secret but the fact that in the latter part of last year it became more pretty doodles less functional was no secret either and I kinda fell out of love with it. Don't get me wrong I still doodled, I still designed my weekly spreads and I still used it but it just wasn't working for me anymore and I was itching for a new journal to get stuck back into it.
These days my 2017 bullet journal is basically my life. It holds all manner of things from blogging to home life to shopping lists and the only thing I don't micro manage in it is my business (and that's only because I have another notebook for that!)
This time around I have made a conscious effort to make sure my journal is working for me at all times and if it isn't anymore? It gets binned. I no longer stick with one weekly spread layout because it's all nice and uniformed - lives change, weeks change, your needs change and now each week is drawn out with THAT and only that week in mind.
"I do not say it lightly when I say my most recent bullet journal has massively impacted (and positively) on my life and my general productivity."
I have always been a list maker, I have always written things down from my homework planners when I was in school to post its and A4 checklists of what to hand in on assessment day when I was in university. It'll come as no shock that running your own small business requires a lot of lists and checking off and reminders but for a while I got a little lax on my own personal life.
I have a good memory, hell I'd even go so far as to say I have a great memory. I never miss a birthday, your present will always be in the post on time, I can remember dates and days and names and memories like nobodies business but as life gets busier - the smaller admin side of living seems to be slipping.
I'm organised don't get me wrong, I'm actually very organised and I always know what needs to be done when, what needs to be done in advance and how to plan....it's just remembering to do those things on the right day that's gone for me. If I think of something and don't immediately remember to write it down it's gone, I'll never remember to do that again.
I do think it's because I have a busy life and with my head so full of what I need to make for tea and what days I'm having my niece this week and which days Mum is working and what Joss needs to remember to do and then you through business on top....the life stuff just gets slung on the heap. You know the stuff; remembering to iron that shirt that needs doing, sending that email, giving someone that recipe. They're all falling by the wayside.
"But...my 2017 bullet journal is changing the habit of a lifetime."
I am really making my 2017 bullet journal work hard for me, it's certainly been a good investment as I'm getting every bang for my buck back in productivity. Instead of segregating my life into separate planners and notebooks I have basically chucked everything into the old bujo. Holidays, work, blogging, life, babysitting, plans, family, shopping, goals, dreams, EVERYTHING is in that one planner and it makes managing and organising my time so much easier.
I no longer draw my monthly layouts weeks in advance, I don't have 4 weekly spreads already planned out anymore; everything is made for a purpose. My weekly spreads are created on the Sunday before the week begins. If I need a to do list to get all my work done on a particularly busy Tuesday then I'll just draw one. The next few weeks I'm commuting into Cardiff every day which I never normally do so all the train timetables have been drawn in there for those fateful times when 4G in the countryside has failed you again. Everything has a purpose.
So that's great, everything has a reason it's been made, you're more organised and you use a to do list well but how does that affect productivity you might ask?
The answer is very simple; I have more time. Because my journal is working for me I am not spending an hour every morning thinking ok what do I need to do today? I already know, it's already written in front of me and if something arises I simply jot it in and add it to the day. I can much easier manage myself, manage my time and prioritise what I need to do first and when I need to do it. Because my bullet journal suits me down to the ground these days I simply have more time to work, more time to get shit done and less time to faff trying to find that list of things I needed to do on 20 post its and try and come up with a coherent list.
"So how can you make your productivity soar using your bullet journal?"
1. Don't use anything that you don't love.
My biggest tip. Sure a spread might look nice but if it's not useful and it's not helping you then ditch it for something that does. I learned the hard way that keeping the same spread just for uniformity is no good to you if it's not inspiring you or helping you in any way. Try 100 spreads until you find a system that works for you. It's all about that personal touch when you bujo.
2. Don't work too far ahead.
It's tempting to block book months and weeks ahead and you might think it's being more productive but it works in quite the counter opposite way. Planning ahead means you're likely to have a big bulk of content and what happens if you need an extra to do list right now? Now suddenly the only place to put it might be 40 pages away when you next have a gap. If you work to now you'll be able to find your today to do list right around the corner from your week's spread. Much more organised, much easier system to work from.
3. But do plan your week.
On the flip side planning a week ahead isn't such a bad thing - in fact it's very helpful when it comes to being productive. Toward the end of your week it's always helpful to plan something for next week. It might be jobs you know you won't finish now, it might be plans you have coming up, it might just be a list of things to remember but having somewhere to jot it down is essential for becoming more productive.
A master to do list is your absolute best friend. Start a running to do list of whatever you need and then when it comes to writing out your weekly spread you know all the things you have planned for the next week, deadlines and things to remember. I write a master to do list which I add to whenever I think of something and then on a Sunday evening I draw out my weekly calendar and allocate the jobs to the days they need to be done. Suddenly my week is planned out for me with no room for forgetting to do something.
5. Get micro if you can.
Something I do do, just not as often, is micro manage my week down to the hour or to sections of the day. Some weeks I have a really full on timetable and I know some things need to be done at specific times. Layouts I've used have included a week split into morning, afternoon and evening in which I delegate the appropriate tasks and even lately when I had a particularly manic day I drew a vertical line down the page and checked off specific timings I had to do things. Ultimate productivity when you know what you're supposed to be doing each hour.
6. Use the first of the month wisely.
Planing at the beginning of the month can be vital to your productivity levels. Whatever way you like to start the month, with a cut off page, with a title page, with a checklist like I do - having a segregated part of your journal for a new month is important. That way you have a clean slate, a fresh start to try something new, a chance to up your bujo usefulness again. This is your space for your monthly calendar, your blog calendar, your work rota...whatever it is use the beginning of a new month wisely to manage your tasks, jobs and arrangements and you'll be on to a winner.
7. Utilise the rollovers.
Ah the migration of tasks. Every bullet journal owners best friend and worst enemy. The migration or rollover of tasks is the things you didn't manage to complete but still need to ie. not obsolete tasks that didn't get done but now don't need to be. If you can successfully use the migration of tasks if something happens or life gets in the way of your perfectly micro managed bujo (as is always the way) then your productivity will benefit. You'll have to find time to put them into another day or week's schedule and that in turn will help you to manage your time and prioritse what needs to move and what goes where. Just don't fall into the trap of 'oh that can just be done tomorrow'.
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