I’m someone who juggles various systems to manage all the ideas, information, chores, research and commitments that run through life. I use white boards, pin boards, paper and digital lists, Evernote, Pocket, calendar pop-ups, sticky notes and photos.
At some level these systems sync with the mother ship (my brain) and instinct kicks in when the network overloads. It works - I meet commitments and arrive on time.
Under stress, I move to a centralised and ruthless paper 'to do' list so I can navigate priorities until things settle down. During these times, I completely focus on the tasks needed to achieve one or two critical activities and discard everything else. Once things calm down, I slowly revert to my multi-system – often rebuilding from the ground up because I’ve cut out everything that wasn’t essential.
Whilst it works, this model of organisation has a downside! Unexplored ideas, abandoned projects, unread books, fun people I haven't got to know ... opportunities for interesting I’ve missed because I’ve lost track of second and third tier ideas.
Then, last week, I stumbled on idea that’s inspired me to try a new way of getting organised.
Slight deviation. If you like to handwrite thoughts and ideas, check out stationery giant Rhodia’s blog, where they curate interesting and creative ways to use journals.
It was in this post I learned about the Bullet Journal. It's a bit complex, which is why it's grabbed my attention, as things need to have a degree of challenge or creativity to get me curious. Also, the developer, Ryder Carroll, has done a great video and visually lovely notes on how to create the journal.
In principle, this is the information the bullet journal captures:
• Monthly and daily calendars
• Task lists
• Simple structure to record events, notes and ideas
• Index and catalogue
And, this is what the bullet journal offers:
• Clean view of activities, tasks and ideas
• Centralised system to capture and manage information
• Ease of process to carry information forward
• Discipline to separate solid from whimsy
What's motivated me to give the bullet journal a go is that I’m working on many activities at various stages of gestation. Also, I’ve playing with a bunch of ideas that I’m keen to research and write about. To assess their potential, I need to stay focused, and not rely on a timeline stress (with its associated shedding) to pin me down.
Getting better at managing all the information systems I work with is one of my 2015 goals. There are many theories about how long it takes to form a habit and I expect a hard (as opposed to pseudo) scientific formula is out there. My personal experience has shown that for a habit to take hold, four conditions need to be in place:
• Want the benefits, and see they're achievable
• Doesn’t overburden my willpower
• Can see/measure progress
• Can maintain the effort for 3-months
Talking about it also motivates me. I’m gearing up to start on 1 April, and I’ll let you know how it goes.