The “Bullet Journal” Time Organizer Method: I’ll Give It a Go

Sticky NotesI’m going to try the “Bullet Journal” time organizer method. Yes, in a previous post I criticized it and called it a “recycled version” of the Franklin Covey Planner.

However…I thought over my current task organization methods, and they aren’t working. I haven’t used Franklin Covey in years, because it just didn’t work for me once I became a doctoral student. I tried Getting Things Done (GTD), including buying OmniFocus, which is based on GTD. I input multiple tasks per the GTD method, but that has become a fancy grocery list app on my smart phone. OmniFocus is great software to use, but I find once I enter a task, the task turns into “out of sight, out of mind“. My tasks just pile up, because I don’t clean them out. Don’t get me wrong, GTD is a great task and time management system, and OmniFocus is great GTD software, but they don’t seem to work for me.

After reading this brief comment from one reader, I thought about how sometimes “inefficiency” can make us more efficient. As RoyM noted:

I also thought that the transcription of the todo list from month to month was a bit silly, but several months in I realise now that it is such a good productivity tool. The very act of sitting down and going through the previous months todo items and transcribing them is almost therapeutic – any important tasks you’ve previously forgotten about bubble back up to the surface, and I find that a lot of things I thought were important at the time may, a month later, be a task I can safely forget about. I never had that sense of closure with an electronic todo list, it just kept getting bigger and bigger.

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The GDP Monster: Always Under Revision

Gross Domestic Product NBC NewsAh, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Does it keep you awake at night? No? Well, it should. “Why is that?” you ask, “I’ve got other things to worry about.”

Investopedia defines the GDP as “the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period, though GDP is usually calculated on an annual basis. It includes all of private and public consumption, government outlays, investments and exports less imports that occur within a defined territory.”

So what does that mean in plain English? It means the GDP is an indicator of your standard of living.

If you would like to learn a little more about the GDP, then watch this (U.S.-centric) video. NBC News created this animation to provide a simple explanation of the GDP. (All countries have a GDP; NBC News is focusing on the United States.) | December 20, 2013

The GDP monster: Always under revision

The Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, is constantly being revived. That‘s because counting all the goods and services sold in the country can be a challenging and overwhelming task. Usually, the government issues at least three versions of the GDP, but last year, the figure was revised all the way back to 1929. Watch this video, reported with CNBC’s Jeff Cox to learn why.

Now will you worry about the GDP of your country? :)

If you are in the United States, you may review data about the GDP on the web site of the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Surfboards & Golf Carts: Inflation’s Mixed Costs

NBC News Consumer Price Index AnimationHave you ever wondered how U.S. government economists determine inflation, i.e., whether or not costs in the United States are going up or down relative to salaries and the U.S. dollar?

Me, neither. But NBC News did.

They created this short and entertaining animation about the Consumer Price Index, or CPI. The writers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics define the CPI this way: “The Consumer Price Indexes (CPI) program produces monthly data on changes in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative basket of goods and services.” | December 16, 2013

Surfboards & golf-carts: Inflation’s mixed costs

Every month the government issues its measure of consumer inflation, and every month slews of Americans scratch their heads in puzzlement. For a better understanding of this important, but complicated, economic indicator, watch this animation, reported with CNBC’s Allison Linn.

Do you think you understand the CPI now?

The “Bullet Journal” : a New Time Organizing Method or a Recycled Idea?

The Bullet Journal MethodI love organizing things. Ideas, notes, calendars, appointments, and tasks. You name it, I can organize it. I’m the queen of sticky notes and reminders.

Thus, I’m always interested in finding a new and better way of organizing my life, either digitally or on paper. The first method I used was Franklin Covey, complete with paper calendar, task list, address book, and Mission Statement. I later moved on to Getting Things Done (GTD). I have tried other organizing methods, but I tend to revert back to the Franklin Covey method. Maybe because it is the first one I learned?

In truth, each method has its pros and cons, even paper versus digital “life stuff” organization. Paper is actually faster, but I have to carry something else around with me. Digital organizers can make it hard to find information — I like to lay my non-digital calendar, schedules and tasks out in front of me to review them — but it’s less burdensome to carry around a smart phone tied in to my laptop via the Cloud.

When I saw this article promising a more efficient way to organize my life, I was intrigued. Could it really be this good?

I admit, I was disappointed by what I saw in the video. However, I was intrigued enough to read through the entire web site for the Bullet Journal method.

In my opinion, the Bullet Journal organizational method is a handwritten, Moleskine-oriented, hipster version of the Franklin Covey system. (I show a typical Franklin Covey daily page in the photo below.) To me, it’s not a “new” method, just a recycled version of an existing method. Franklin Covey also organizes by task, event, and note. As well, it uses notations to decide how important a task is. It is also organized by monthly calendar, daily calendar and schedule, and daily tasks. Franklin Covey also provides a way to organize by monthly and weekly tasks, and to plan ahead months and years in advance, if I remember correctly.

Franklin Covey

The Bullet Journal method doesn’t seem to provide a way to plan months ahead on a calendar. I guess that goes in a note until you create your new calendar at the end of the current month? That doesn’t seem very practical, and depending on your schedule, hand writing every task and event and moving them each month seems tedious compared to the Franklin Covey paper method or using a digital time tracker like OmniPlan, which is based on GTD. It’s also not very flexible. If I try to write out my tasks by day a month ahead, and then I need to add a significant number of new tasks, I am likely to run out of space! This photo, below, is an example daily task page in the Bullet Journal method.

The Bullet Journal

I suspect, also, that the author doesn’t have a family. I am skeptical that this method would scale. If you happen to lose an analog time tracker, there are no back up files. In addition, I am not a fan, anymore, of letting outdated paper organizers pile up and take space. That happened to me with my Franklin Covey paper planners. Eventually, I shredded the paper to save space when I lived in a small apartment in Los Angeles. I did not refer back to them after a certain amount of time passed, and it was unnecessary to keep them. It was a relief, actually, to let go! Personally, I don’t have time to manage my current and future tasks, much less to sit around and flip through my past ones.

I will give Ryder Carroll credit for creating a well-organized, manual, paper and pen system for the Moleskine or a Composition book, though. Should you use it, I have no doubt it will help you. If I still used Moleskines or a Composition notebook, I would adopt this system to organize my life. He has put a lot of thought into developing an analog organizing system. (I just think it is too similar to the Franklin Covey method to be called an “original” method. And, like all methods, it is not perfect.)

What do you think of the Bullet Journal method? What method do you use to organize your life? Do you have any tips and tricks you swear by?

Addendum, 31 December 2013: In spite of my criticisms above, I am going to give the “Bullet Journal” method a go. Please check back as I report on how well it does or does not work for me. Happy New Year 2014!

Addendum, 2 February 2014: I have an update on my use of the Bullet Journal method, 33 days later. In short, success. I am happy to eat my words. :)