My first month of Bullet Journaling

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BLUF – In a digital world that pushes you to move at dangerous speeds, using an analog place to organize your thoughts can optimize your efficiency and help you develop a better sense of calmness amongst the chaos.

After returning home from a work trip, I came across the Bullet Journal (BUJO) system and decided to give it a try. I’m always fascinated and interested in improving efficiency in my life, and after reading The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll I felt confident to begin my experiment. I wanted to see if the reverting back to an analog method of task organization would help me “track the past, organize the present, and design my future.” I picked up the Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal edition, which has a bunch of items already included for me (page numbers, key legend, index, and future logs). After one month, I’m happy to report…it really works for me, and I think I can improve my system even more. Here are four highlights after my first month of BUJO life:

1. Having a place to offload my thoughts

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One of the immediate benefits of the BUJO system is a place to write down any thoughts, experiences, or tasks that I come across throughout the day (assuming I have my BUJO next to me). I still use a smaller notebook to scratch down meeting notes, of which I then transfer over only the stuff that matters. Eventually I’ll get to the point where I only write down what matters, but that usually takes a little bit of “meeting decompression” for me to understand what I actually need to do. Regardless, I gain a sense of calmness knowing that I won’t forget my thoughts. Having the ability to return to my BUJO to find my organized thoughts keeps me on task and helps prevent me from wasting time on things that probably don’t matter as much. Because if they mattered, I would’ve written it down.

2. Better Daily Habits

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On my Calendar month page, I included three habits I wanted to gain consistency on: RomWOD (daily stretching program aimed at improving my overall fitness), taking my multi-vitamin (nothing fancy, I’m just terrible about remembering to take my vitamins), and weekly Project Rise posts (my Sunday ritual of drinking coffee and writing in the morning). Instead of trying to remember these habits, I look forward to accomplishing and manually “checking the task off” in my BUJO. That simple analog action kept my daily habits on track than trying to remember. Again, I don’t have to waste energy on trying to stay on top of my desired habits because I know I have my BUJO to organize my daily actions to “check the box” and move on with my day.

3. Tailored Key System

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Based on the guidance to modify the notation system of BUJO entries to my liking, I created two more Bullet types: Workout and Project Rise. The Workout symbol is a solid triangle. Originally it was going to be the Delta sign for change, but I kept on filling the shape in, so now it’s solid. I still have digital methods to log workouts (Beyond the Whiteboard and Strava), but I use those methods sparingly. By writing down my workouts in my BUJO, I gain a sense of accomplishment of something I have done for myself. So if my day ends up being hectic or filled with meetings that ended up being time sucks…at least I did some Snatch complexes, hahaha! As for my Project Rise thoughts, I stay on top of my Sunday articles fairly consistently, but I need to use the BUJO more to organize and take action on other aspects of the site. I recently redesigned the template and color scheme, but I have other ideas to enhance the site and I still have a goal to write a book before the end of 2019 on my adventures as a Squadron Commander. Just typing that last part of the sentence makes me want to get moving, but I should finish this article first!

4. Specialized Pages 

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I have specific pages set aside for major projects at work, Hiking Backpack Training log, our upcoming Spring Break trip to Vegas, Books that I’ve read, and Books that I want to read. All of these pages I enjoy writing entries in, as I can see my past accomplishments and know I have I have more room to go. Seeing the past helps me remember I’m not starting from scratch every time and often refocuses me to a near-term task that I can dedicate my time and energy towards. Instead of trying to swallow the whole elephant at once, I can focus on one toenail at a time (yes, a completely disgusting analogy, but I keep on using it because it works). These pages are different than daily journaling as they are progressive in nature and deserve their own special place in my BUJO.

Bottom line, I’m really digging the BUJO method and

I don’t get as artsy as others do with their journal, but I can see myself eventually coming up with some designs to add flair to my journal. But I haven’t written that down just yet as a priority, as the simple version of the system is doing wonders for my time and thought management. I’ll write another update after a full three months of BUJO, which would make that…end of April. Snap, need to add that to my Future Log!

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