The Bullet Journal

I’m a bit of a task manager addict. To be honest, I sicken even myself sometimes with my OCD-grade list making. It’s not a hard sell to get me to try the latest new-fangled task management app.

What gets me hooked is if a system lends itself to meeting your needs at any given time.

When it comes to project management at work, I live most of my days in Asana. It’s been enormously useful tool for planning, organising and tracking progress on multiple projects at once. On the flip side, Asana has also been a life saver with the small stuff – reminding me to do the things every month that keep me in fully functioning adult territory (i.e. paying the bills).

The awesomeness is in the flexibility.

Now, there are loads of digital tools out there to help you get organised. But even for app addicts like myself the simplicity of pen-on-paper will do the job nicely.1

So, if you feel like full-blown project management software is overkill, or you just prefer a more analog approach – the Bullet Journal is for you.

(Don’t worry, this isn’t so much a sales pitch as it is a tip-off on a system that I think is worth your time.)

The Bullet Journal concept was developed by Brooklyn-based product designer Ryder Carroll as a simple way to stay focused on the important stuff. Having struggled with traditional note-taking tactics in school, Carroll evolved the core elements of the method to help him tackle life and work in a more mindful way.

Check out this video for a quick introduction to how it works:

The system is foolproof, really. And, much like Asana has in a digital form, it can be adapted to be as simple (or mammoth) as you like.

"We intentionally used standard conventions, like bullets, checklists, page numbers, etc., so you already know a fair amount before you even begin," Carroll tells Fast Company. "Then the user can can add and subtract features as they need to."

It really is as simple as getting started and evolving your own Bullet Journal system using the framework Carroll provides.

Personally, I use a combination of Asana and my Bullet Journal on a daily basis. While Asana helps me to keep track of larger projects with a lot of moving parts (and of course includes invaluable things like attaching hyperlinks and docs, etc), my Bullet Journal is never far away.

The Moleskine2 I use is home to the key things I want to get done. Each morning I write down the 4-5 things I am absolutely committed to getting done that day. If I don't get to a task, I'll migrate it over to the next day (or week). Nothing slips through the cracks.

It also keeps me accountable. Each time I go to migrate a task, I consider its importance – is it worth migrating? If it's so important, why didn't I get it done today?

Also an organisation freak? Drop me a note with your favourite to-do Thing below.

  1. And can actually help you better remember things:

    Ink on Paper: Some Notes on Note Taking

  2. I'm all about the Squared Soft Notebook (Large)