What maintaining a bullet journal can educate you about utilizing to-do listing apps

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On July sixth of this yr, I formally ended my three-year-long experiment with attempting to arrange my life utilizing a bodily bullet journal. I do know the precise date as a result of I’m my discontinued pocket book as I write this. Apparently, 5 months in the past, I wanted to take images of the Corsair K70 keyboard for a then-forthcoming evaluation and observe up with a quote I’d acquired to insulate my roof. I took the images. I didn’t find yourself insulating my roof. 

Since then, I’ve used the pocket book for jotting down issues to recollect right here and there, however with regards to maintaining monitor of every day duties and chores, I’ve switched again to the identical hodgepodge of various note-taking and to-do listing apps that I used three years in the past. These embrace Notion for longform notes and lists, Apple Notes after I want one thing immediately, and Todoist for to-do lists and reminders. However though I’ve ditched the bodily pocket book for apps, I don’t assume bullet journals are a waste of time. In reality, I believe my experiment taught me an essential lesson about the way to keep organized digitally.

Bullet journals could be both bodily or digital (corresponding to with this Notion template), however they’re finest referred to as a way to organize a blank notebook into a personal planner. There are web page codecs in your yearly, month-to-month, and every day duties, a technique for weaving your to-do listing between them, and a collection of frequent symbols and notation to make sense of all of it. In the end, it’s all in service of providing you with a format to design your individual planner and versatile guidelines for the way to use it.

There’s a variety of potential complexity, and folks like to put them out in several methods, however my fundamental method every day was to jot down out my listing of duties, manually copy over something incomplete from earlier days (aka “migrate” them), and tick every process off because the day progressed. Some individuals like to repeat over duties on a weekly or monthly foundation, however every day was what labored for me.

The bullet journal’s core is sensible, however I used to be additionally drawn in by the aesthetics. YouTube is filled with videos of individuals painstakingly laying them out, filling them with delicate illustrations and little visible parts they slowly replenish over the course of the yr. I dreamed of getting a small pocket book full of neat handwriting and perhaps a sketch or two, like those Naughty Dog has its protagonists carry in its video games. I imagined my bullet journal as being as a lot of a scrapbook of my every day life because it was an organizer.  

The truth of my really horrible handwriting meant this by no means actually got here to go, however that didn’t cease my pocket book from changing into a half-decent planner. Essential emails acquired jotted down reasonably than being marked as unread, upcoming articles acquired categorized with deadlines and precedence ranges, and I assigned condominium chores to myself on a daily schedule reasonably than a chaotic advert hoc foundation.

However most essential was that each one of this was being completed manually, reasonably than having an app’s inside logic whisk duties back and forth. Each morning, I’d be pressured to spend a few minutes writing out and prioritizing the day’s duties — and reckoning with what I’d did not do yesterday. You’d be amazed at how rapidly you get round to doing a nonurgent process after forcing your self to jot down it out on daily basis for every week. Different occasions, I noticed one thing that appeared tremendous pressing after I first wrote it down wasn’t value going by with after I seemed again at it the next day. 

Having to jot down every process out manually turned a to-do from one thing I might simply file away in an app and overlook about into one thing that I needed to handle every day. I needed to actively prune and prioritize and take into consideration these chores that previous Jon had lumbered current Jon with. Did I actually want to purchase a alternative pair of go well with trousers with no formal occasions on the speedy horizon? And isn’t it time I let that horrible weblog submit thought go? In every case, forcing myself to simply take into consideration what was on my listing inevitably saved it extra manageable.

Having to hold round a bodily pocket book sucks

It wasn’t that I grew bored with the writing, however ultimately, I acquired sick of getting to hold round a bodily pocket book. A pal would remind me a few movie I wished to look at whereas we had been within the pub, and I’d have to notice it down in a notes app earlier than transcribing it into my bodily pocket book later. Or I’d be passing a grocery retailer on the way in which dwelling and never have my bodily procuring listing with me. Ultimately, the attract of maintaining issues digital on my cellphone and with me always grew too sturdy. 

What I’ve since realized, nonetheless, is that it’s completely attainable to maintain numerous the issues I favored about maintaining a bullet journal with out sacrificing the comfort of apps. In the end, what I favored concerning the pocket book was much less about its physicality and extra about the truth that it pressured me to spend actual time actively enthusiastic about and organizing my life every day. And that’s one thing that’s simply as attainable to do with an app as it’s with a pocket book. You simply should keep away from pondering the know-how can arrange it for you.

Todoist is my present app of selection.
Picture: Todoist

Now, as a substitute of spending time writing out duties every day, I as a substitute take a spin by Todoist, pruning out outdated duties, altering due dates on others, and customarily attempting to maintain issues neat. I don’t should struggle towards my horrible handwriting, and I at all times have my cellphone on me after I have to jot one thing down for later. I can nonetheless profit from the streamlined interface, however reasonably than submitting and forgetting a process, I power myself to maintain monitor of it. 

And though I don’t assume I’ll ever discover an app as aesthetically pleasing as a YouTuber’s bullet journal, that doesn’t imply I’ve to surrender on good designs fully. I just like the choices Notion has right here, permitting you to customise pages with parts like cowl images and emoji. It’s sufficient to encourage me to start out pondering of it as an ever-evolving scrapbook reasonably than a utilitarian assortment of paperwork.

It’s straightforward to assume that an app or to-do listing service will take you by the hand and arrange your life for you, however for those who’re not cautious, it might probably simply turn into an infinite digital locker with a messy assortment of notes filed underneath “forget.”

I’m nonetheless tempted to present bodily journaling one other go sooner or later, particularly after scanning by a few lovely bullet journal illustrations within the means of scripting this piece. However for now, I’m joyful sufficient to be again on the apps. They’re removed from the proper answer, however I’ve discovered that you just get as a lot out of them as you’re ready to place in.

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