Bullet Journal and the analogue revolution

The good thing about getting away from the social media circus for a while is that you don’t get so easily distracted by trivialities; the bad thing is that you miss out on a lot of the cool stuff that everyone’s talking about. Like Bullet Journal, which I only heard about the other day when I was catching up on summer 2014 episodes of my favourite knitting podcast, The Knitmore Girls.

X-17 leather refillable journal and Parker fountain pen

The concept is simple: a single physical notebook in which you jot down all your To-Do lists, appointments, random thoughts, etc. Forget apps – this is Slow Food for the mind. Or Slow Organisation, if you will.

Hang on, you’re saying, you have to give up electronics? Entirely? No, thank goodness! There’s still a place for Google Calendar, Reminders and other apps that help you to collaborate with others or just get prompted automatically to put the bins out on a Tuesday morning. But the idea is that writing things down helps you to remember them, as well as detaching you for a short while from the digital umbilicus that can sometimes feel like it’s sucking your brain out through your fingertips.

Over the past few years I’ve been managing to follow GTD (Getting Things Done) pretty well, using a combination of  Omnifocus (for my day-job) and Things (for everything else). I run two apps mostly because I like to keep my day-job separate from my personal life, so as to avoid fretting about one when I’m trying to focus on the other, but also because the power of Omnifocus which is so essential in my day-job is overkill for creative work.

However I’ve become aware of a couple of shortcomings in my current setup:

  1. Text-based systems are only good at text – you can’t doodle or sketch in them, which as a web developer and writer are vital parts of my creative process. Yes, I have an iPad stylus, but it’s just not the same as pen and paper. Hence I still need physical notebooks, so my planning is split between analogue and digital anyway.
  2. Whilst Omnifocus works well to implement GTD in my day-job, I tend to skip regular reviews in Things because it doesn’t have a Review function, and thus non-urgent tasks get neglected. Any piece of software limits you to the functionality provided by the developer, meaning you often end up using several apps to cover your needs.

I think Bullet Journal will fill a much-needed gap in my organisational armoury – heaven knows I could do with being more focused and productive in my non-day-job life! – so I’ve spent the past couple of days devouring reviews and tips, selecting notebooks and pens, and ordering washi tape to brighten up my journals (I shall of course be using two journals so as to separate work and personal, just like with the apps). Bullet Journal panders to the stationery addict in me in a big way!

Once I’ve set everything up I’ll blog some more – with pictures! In the meantime, here’s the Bullet Journal intro video to whet your appetite: