The most valuable resource you can’t make more of

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BLUF – “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” –Stephen Covey

Over the past two months, one consistent subject that come up in several events is time. From the individual to the group, everyone has concerns about time: wasting time on things that don’t matter, not using scheduled time efficiently, or simply feeling that there isn’t enough time. In my recent climate assessment survey for our squadron, time is a follow-up focus area to optimize. In a recent wing-level strategic mapping session, one of the goals under the Mission priority is to review the current battle rhythm to determine if meetings and properly scoped in purpose. I don’t think this situation is unique to any organization or individual; I just happen to be a in a position where I can contribute to returning time to everyone so they can work on what is needed (that is assumed to be clearly articulated to everyone on the team, which is a large assumption and will be addressed in a separate post).

I decided to start with managing my time first. No sense in trying to make improvements on a large scale if I don’t have my personal time managed effectively. As usual when I’m TDY, I browse the book sections of Airports, specifically for self-improvement and leadership topics. Something about being unplugged from the grind at 30,000 feet allows my mind to take in and process information quickly, so I tend to fill it with trying to get better in subjects that concern me. I can’t remember where I saw the subject came up (I think it was an Amazon-recommended ad based on my searches), but I decided to try the Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll. The description of the system reads as follows:

The Bullet Journal Method is a mindful practice disguised as a productivity system. Once you’re comfortable with the system, you’ll be ready to move on to mindful practice, and learn how to live with intention.

In 2018 I decided to forgo using my traditional notebook/planner and work and just use the notes app of my phone. I have Evernote, but truthfully never fully got into it. I stopped taking physical media to any meeting and had to tell the meeting chairs that I was taking notes on my phone, not making memes (which was 67.3% true). Honestly, that was not the most efficient use of my time. I say that because tasks hidden on my phone, which have all of the usual/modern distractions, didn’t always get my proper attention. My attention would be drawn to the most recent conversation, task, or e-mail (aka the evil of all evils, the usurper of time). I decided to return to writing things down, but finding a new method to optimize my productivity. The Bullet Journal (BuJo for the cool kids) seemed like a good place to try.

So this post won’t cover my full impression of BuJo, because I’m only three days into it. However, so far I think the system is AWESOME. A brief list:

  • The ability to get a thought out of my head in an organized manner allows me to focus on what is important NOW
  • Crowdsourcing and individual experimentation is encouraged to enhance a system designed for me
  • An artistic element that allows a degree of creativity and fun to the system
  • Organizing multiple levels of items based on time so that items aren’t forgotten
  • The consistent awareness of “does this really need to go into my journal?”, thus reducing items that would waste my time
  • Deliberate scheduling of priorities to ensure focus

I’m going to continue to use the BuJo method and post my thoughts on my system. I’ll provide updates on my system at the beginning of every month for the next three months (recommended trial length) that covers the previous month. I know this because I scheduled the posts! I haven’t fallen deep into the BuJo rabbit hole just yet, but I did notice one thing so far: I don’t see a lot of design methods that are catered to dudes. Lots of designs that use cursive writing and thin fonts, similar to the entire home decorating section of Target or most “inspiration” type of items…which definitely aren’t my style. I’ll probably using some graffiti, street wear, or comic book-influenced designs…and maybe I’ll be the first to offer them up?

Stay tuned for more!

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