You Can Use a Bullet Journal to Maximize Your Productivity

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Raise your hand if you're not as productive as you'd like to be! That's what we thought. Considering the overwhelming amount of media constantly surrounding us, it's not hard to see why we're all so distracted. While there's no shortage of apps to help keep your mind on track, maybe your best bet is to roll everything back — all the way back to pen and paper.

Do You BuJo?

In the past few years, you've likely come across the bullet journal craze. Bullet journaling hit the public consciousness in 2013 thanks to Ryder Carroll, a Brooklyn-based digital product designer who developed the method as a student struggling with attention deficit disorder. It quickly became a social media trend: just searching #bujo (that's "bullet journal" for short, grandpa) on Instagram yields more than one million results.

In short, bullet journaling is a productivity method that gives structure and organization to a plain old notebook in a variety of ways — something Carroll desperately needed to cope with his learning disability. Tutors had tried to help him in the past, but nothing stuck. "I was spending all my time trying to be organized," Caroll told Bloomberg. Of course, you don't have to have ADD to struggle with organization. As Carroll tells the BBC, the bullet journal "was designed for me, but it was also designed for my kind of mind, which had to be flexible. Sometimes I use it to draw, sometimes I use it to write, sometimes it would be for planning, sometimes it would be for 'whatever' and I wanted a system that could do all those things."

The only way to really know if bullet journaling will work for you is to try it out. We recommend the hour-long Skillshare class "How to Maximize Your Productivity with a Planner or Bullet Journal" to get yourself started. All you need is a notebook and a pen. Easy.

The Everything Journal

Bullet journals are almost hard to describe because they are so highly customizable. You can think of them as a cross between a to-do list, a planner, and a diary, with more or less of any one of those based on how you'd like to journal. Most include a future log for long-term plans, a monthly log for this month's events and deadlines, a daily log for today's tasks, and an index so you can find everything.

The main feature of the bullet journal, however, is rapid logging. By doing this, you essentially jot down notes, tasks, and events in the same place, and use different bullet points to distinguish among them. A task ("drop package off at the post office") gets a dot bullet, a note ("roommate is out of town") gets a dash, and an event ("office holiday party") gets a circle.

But does it work? For many, the analog approach is better than any digital interface. Quartz's Belle Beth Cooper has found bullet journals incredibly helpful. "Using analogue tools has had the extra benefit of encouraging me to spend quiet time every night away from screens, reflecting on my day and planning for tomorrow. This process, and the simplicity of the Bullet Journal system, have helped me get things done without being overwhelmed by digital productivity apps."

To give bullet journaling a try, check out the introductory Skillshare class. But why stop there? Skillshare is an online education community with more than 18,000 classes on just about everything including expert-led classes on photography, marketing, graphic design, and more. Sign up with this link and get 3 months of unlimited classes on Skillshare for just $0.99!

Written by Joanie Faletto January 4, 2018
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