I’m trying to be more organized this year. I missed several assignments, fell short of commitments, and honestly felt 10 steps behind in the second half of 2019. Even at one point I stopped using to-do lists because I couldn’t get anything done on them and somehow thought this would solve the issue.
Completely by accident I saw an article by Tim Mauer that was shared on social media about analog productivity system. Check out that article here.
I went down that rabbit hole, as many of us are known to do. After reading a few lines, I was intrigued and began wondering if this would work for me. I struggle with a running to-do list on a legal pad, a digital calendar, a reminder list on my phone, and sticky notes that loose their stick before they get done. So I figured if I could combine all of these things and make it fit my own needs, it’d be worth a shot. ]
About the bullet journal
Tim Mauer uses the bullet journal system ( give this a read to learn more about the bullet journal system ). This system is analog and focuses on breaking our hectic lives into three groups: tasks, notes, and events. Each of these has a specific mark to set them out since they’ll be on the same page, intermingled. Additionally, if something is extra important, or has some other significance, it can be marked with a star, or an exclamation point to call attention to it.
So far you’re probably thinking that this isn’t too special. Well the part I like most, at least while I’m getting going with this habit, is the process of marking the items and connecting them to the next day, week, or month. The bullet journal system calls this “migrating,” where you examine any “open” tasks to see if they’re still important, need to be delegated, or migrated to the next month for you to work on.
It’s definitely going to take a few weeks to get into the habit of keeping a journal like this, but I’m eager to get started.
Here’s how I’m going to customize my journal
I like the journal because you can customize the date range to be whatever you want or need. Since I’ve already got a journal that runs through June, I’m going to adapt the bullet journal system for my current journal and the rest of the spring semester. Then, I’ll reflect on what works, what doesn’t, and plan for the rest of the year at that point.
I’m going to expand on the three categories for my journal: tasks, appointments/meetings, notes/ideas, and assignments (well I am a doctoral student, right?). I’ll have modifiers for assignments and tasks to denote if they’re complete, in-progress, migrated, or delegated. I’m also going to keep identifiers to mark important items, notes that need exploration, or notes that are inspirational. Check out the legend for my journal system.
I’m not going to keep a future log, or any other collections for now. My goal is initially just to be in the habit of keeping everything in one place, and organized. Then, hopefully, by mid-year I’ll be in such a habit that I can start to implement these other bullet journal steps.
My hope is that this modification will not only help me keep to more deadlines and commitments, but to be the best version of myself by taking control of my calendar, my time, and my energy as I’m seeking the best version of myself.
to be the best version of myself by taking control of my calendar…JW Harris