When I first started using the bullet journal system, my aim was to become more focused, more organised and to get more stuff done. I definitely think it’s helped me to do that and I feel like I get more done each month then ever before. I always used to write lists and get the essentials finished, but using the bullet journal has helped me to get more of the things done that I actually want to do, as well as the things I need to do.
Each month, I jot down everything that’s in my head. I don’t worry about making a layout or creating something picture worthy – I just want a no pressure page where I can empty my head. It feels so much better when it’s all out on paper.
This is not my full list as I have a lot of client specific tasks that I can’t share, but this gives you a good feel as to the types of things on my mind. Once I have written the list, I quickly categorise my thoughts: M – for me, W – work, H – home and C – creative. From a look at my list I can see that the area I need to focus on the most is things for me – isn’t that always the area that gets neglected! This ranges from seeing my family more, looking after my health and fitness, catching up with correspondence and exploring new places.
The next step for me is thinking about the month ahead. What realistically can I do to move ahead with these areas?
I use the same categories and pick things from my initial list that I think I will have time to work on during the month. I don’t worry too much about the detail at this stage, just the broad subject, such as ‘health plan’ or ‘explore’.
Each weekend I then think about the week that is approaching and set out my plans for that week.
I look at my appointments for the week and then list the activities from my monthly plan that I want to work on the most, perhaps adding a bit more detail to those areas. To make sure I stay focused, I add my most important goals for the week on a tip-in card. I find this useful as I can leave this card open when I am working on other pages in my journal, meaning that my goals for the week are much harder to forget about. I use a combination of some old Project Life cards, cards people have sent me or tip-ins I have made myself. I then washi them onto the edge of my page.
Finally I create a plan for the next day. Each evening I look back through what I have achieved during the day, what tasks need to be migrated to the next day and anything else I want to add from my weekly plan.
I use the same categories, marked with an initial. I also try and estimate how long each task is going to take me. This is to help me with being realistic about how much I am going to be able to get done. I have a habit of massively over-planning for my days and then giving myself a hard time for not checking everything off. Writing down the anticipated length of tasks helps me with this. It’s very easy to believe I have 8 hours ahead of me to get everything done, but of course, I never actually have 8 hours – unanticipated work phone calls and emails realistically take up at least half of my time every day.
I use the * signifier to help me easily see the most important activities for the day. I know that I work the best and have the most energy in the morning, so I make sure that I tackle the most complex and important tasks first. This means that by the afternoon I can spend time on simpler or more enjoyable tasks, when my energy levels are at their lowest.
I find the evening is the best time for me to plan, I have had enough distance from the busy day to think clearly about what I want to get done the following day. It also helps me to relax knowing that I have a plan in place for the following day and that nothing has been forgotten. I genuinely believe that despite the time I spend setting up my bullet journal, I get more done than ever before, feel more focused and start each day with a clear plan in mind.
So, my focus for the next couple of months will be doing some more things for me 🙂 Sure, I need to get lots of work and home things done, but I will be taking some time out to spend with family, work on my fitness, explore more and play with paint!
Anyway, I hope you have a great April and find time for the things that are important to you.