Tag Archives: productivity

Time Management, Self-Management: Bullet Journaling

 Time Management, Self-Management: Bullet Journaling
Time Management, Self-Management: Bullet Journaling Resources

Time management is self-management. We all have the same amount of time; it’s what we do to manage ourselves that counts. I became interested in time management again a few months back when I discovered bullet journaling.

I’m a big fan of paper; working something out on paper is powerful. For a couple of decades I fell in love with tech, because I was writing for several computer magazines. That made me feel slightly guilty that I still used so much paper. I got over that very smartly, when I realized that using both paper and digital tools helped not only my productivity, but also my creativity. It just makes sense to keep doing what works.

Unfortunately, my diaries, journals, binders, and planners were a long way from being a real system. Not only did I have more paper notebooks than I could keep track of, I also had a blizzard of sticky notes on my bulletin board, my library shelves, and on just about any flat surface.

Although I’d been hearing about the bullet journal, I scoffed at it. Then in desperation, I decided to give the system a trial. Not only did I find it powerful and effective, I discovered something else. There’s a huge paper planner community. Who knew? My battered old Filofax is 25 years old, so I ordered a Hobonichi Techo, which is superb. Just right for bullet journaling in 2015.

Combining bullet journaling with digital tools like Evernote works for me, and I’ll write more about that in the coming months.

Bullet Journaling Resources

If you’re interested in trying bullet journaling, here are the resources I found valuable.

The Bullet Journal Website: Here’s What You Need to Know

Start by visiting the bullet journal website. Watch the video, grab a notebook, and get started. You’ll learn a lot about yourself. Here’s what I discovered immediately: I was more productive.

You can hide and ignore tasks you haven’t done with a digital task management tool. With a bullet journal, you can see that you’re migrating tasks over and over, and that fact alone irritates you enough that you DO that pain-in-the-rear task, or tasks. I hate administration, and while that won’t change, my bullet journal ensures that I DO those tasks.

The Bullet Journal Communities

I’m a member of two groups, the Bullet Journal Community on Google+, and the Bullet Journal Junkies Group on Facebook.

Lovely people on both those communities. If you have questions about notebooks, signifiers, methods, or anything else, ask.

Blog Post and Videos: Tips From Bullet Journalers

Here are some blog posts and videos which helped me to get started with bullet journaling.

33 Days Later: an Update on My Use of the Bullet Journal Method Task Tracking System: Jewel Ward offers this insight:

“What I like about the Bullet Journal method is that the act of manually transferring my tasks from day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month forces me to be more aware of that I need to do, what I have done, and, what is feasible to do within the time frame I have available. It does take more time, but overall, it saves me time.”

How the Bullet Journal Cured Idea Overload Syndrome — Renee Shupe’s insight:

“I discovered that using pen & paper over a digital process actually has me reviewing the ideas and taking action by either crossing them out as they are no longer valid or hashing it out and building a plan for implementation.”

Video: How I set up my Bullet Journal – from Hailey Cairo, an excellent primer.

Video: My Bullet Journal from Miss VickyBee, another excellent primer on how to get started.

Will bullet journaling work for you? I’ve no idea. However, if you’re as desperate to develop a sane time management system as I was, you’ll love the system. Watch Ryder Carroll’s video, and start. You’ll know whether it helps within a day or two.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Get coaching, and build your skills at Angela’s online store.

Writing Journal 44: Creativity Tools for Writers

Writing Journal 44: Creativity Tools for Writers

My writing journal for Thursday, September 25, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

The first draft of the client’s novella is done; now for the editing. In preparation for that, I compiled it from Scrivener to MOBI, so that I can read it tonight without distractions.

That just took a couple of minutes, so I’ve got time to write a quick draft of a short story for my Christmas collection of 25 stories; I managed 1,500 words. It will grow to around 3,000 words at a guess. I’ve just sketched in a couple of the big scenes. I created a graphic of how many scenes you need for various types of fiction projects. Students have found it useful.

Next, onward to the company history I’m ghostwriting. This went slowly this morning, only 800 words. I need to get more information, and I need to backtrack too. Whenever I feel uncertain about a project, it’s always wise to go back. As I tell my students: you can’t have a strong book without a strong beginning, and it may take you a while to get there.

I fix Honey’s breakfast, then have my own, while reading email. I caught up on some email last night, but there’s still a backlog. I need to deal with some of it before it gets out of hand.

Then it’s time to get to work on the company history, and check my draft blog posts until lunch.

Readers have asked about productivity, and how to stay creative.

Creativity tools: clustering, free writing and doodling

You can’t push creativity. However you can use tools which will help you to be creative. My favorite creativity tools are clustering, free writing, and doodling.

Vital: give yourself space. If you’re working with clients, you’ll be tempted to push yourself hard, so that you can meet deadlines. When you do that, you risk burning out. Years ago, I went through a burned out period, and once was enough. I always pull myself back if I feel that I’m pushing.

A tip: have fun. I can’t emphasize that enough. That’s not a frivolous statement. New writers tend to think “having fun” is the last thing they should be doing, but as Carl Jung said:

“the creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by play.”

If you haven’t discovered this for yourself, you’ll soon learn from experience.

When you stop having fun with something, take it as a warning that you’re pushing yourself too hard. Step back.

Another tip: take BREAKS. I use timers, and after every 30 to 40 minutes (depending on the project), I take a five minute break. I’ll do a crossword, or listen to some music. I might make a coffee, or take Honey outside. I might send a couple of texts. Whatever — I get up, move around, and clear my mind.

Yes, sometimes I get so involved that I don’t do this, but I know that I’ll be more productive when I take regular breaks. I use various timers, my current favorites are Repeat Timer Pro, and Tomatoes.

Lunch at my computer today, while browsing social media. I didn’t get a chance to walk this morning. It’s raining.

A full afternoon

I start off the afternoon with the company history, and do 2,800 words. I’m pleased. However, it’s taken over three hours. I didn’t want to stop. I knew I’d have trouble getting into the right frame of mind for this section again.

Next, the Kindle ebook for my coaching client. I made notes and did some research an managed 1,000 words on that.

I had to break off to return some calls, and respond to an urgent email message.

With that done, it’s time for the daily review, and totaling my word counts. Tonight, I’ll need to catch up with email, and read the MOBI of the novella.

Team Up: yes, it’s the final one for the year

We’ve received some questions about Team Up.

Yes, this is the final program for the year. Once we hit October, we’re coming into the very busy holiday sales period. It usually means a rush of copywriting projects, so look for the next Team Up to be scheduled for March or April 2015.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 38: More On Bullet Journal

Writing Journal 38: More On Bullet Journal

My writing journal for Friday, September 19, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

A complicated morning. I managed to complete the nonfiction book edits; that’s now ready to go off to the client. I need to complete the rush copywriting job; that will take a while. I make a good start on it.

Time for Honey’s breakfast, and my own. I read email while I eat my toast, and have a couple of extra-strong coffees. All the student feedback will need to wait until tomorrow. I have a meeting late this afternoon. It will take several hours, so I won’t be able to write tonight. Julia can handle the general email enquiries.

A quick walk, and then it’s back to copywriting. I’ve promised the client that he’ll get it today, and he will. :-)

iOS 8 seems to have downloaded itself to my devices, so there’s short diversion while I get them updated. I’ve been so busy the past week that I haven’t had a chance to check what’s new in this iOS. I’ve heard that you can now copy straight into Evernote, which is good.

Love the bullet journal system

As you may know, I procrastinate, if I allow it. After just a day of using the bullet journal system, I’ve managed to complete two tasks which have been hanging fire for a couple of weeks. There’s something about seeing something written on paper which inspires a “must do this NOW” feeling. No idea why that is, but it’s working for me.

Ryder Carroll, the creator of bullet journal, is currently running a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign was fully funded within eight hours. And yes, I’m a backer. Not only do I like the bullet journal, I’m also a big fan of Leuchtturm1917. So Ryan’s new “unlimited” funding tier appealed to me.

More writing on the copywriting project. It’s moving right along, so I’ll get it done after lunch.

Ghostwriting: the company history

I manage 2,200 words on that; I’ll need to do more over the weekend. Julia’s scheduled more chats with the client for next week. Let’s hope we can keep up the momentum. That’s always a challenge when you’re ghostwriting — you need the information to keep flowing, so you can keep writing.

And it’s time for lunch. Today, we’re having our usual Friday lunch out. Hummingbird cake, here I come. :-)

Back again, and on with the client’s copywriting project. Finally, it’s done. Julia will proof it, and send it off to the client.

Back to the novella

I feel odd writing fiction in the afternoon. To me, it’s an early-morning activity. I get into it, and a manage 1,800 words, which is good. I need to outline the next couple of scenes, so that I can start work on them tomorrow morning.

That’s it for today. I’ve done my daily review, and totted up my word counts. A meeting tonight, and the week is done too.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 37: Bullet Journaling

Writing Journal 37: Bullet Journaling

My writing journal for Thursday, September 18, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

No fiction this morning, because I need to get the client’s rush copywriting job done by tomorrow. (The one to promote the inventory of new products.) I worked on the nonfiction book edits late last night , because I need to get those done by tomorrow too. Therefore, I spent the first three hours of my day focusing on those two projects. This week has zoomed by so quickly.

Oooh… the embarrassment…

Last night, while rearranging my schedule for the next couple of weeks, I discovered that I’d allowed a small copywriting project to slip through the cracks. Highly embarrassing, and guilt-inducing, because this client has been with me for years.

How could this happen? I use OmniFocus, Things, Evernote, and my handwritten journals. After I stopped slapping myself upside the head, I decided to implement a bullet journaling process. Not only because of the missed project, but also because I forget to add ideas, insights and inspirations from my daily handwritten journal to OmniFocus et al — I tell myself I’ll do it “later”, and later never arrives.

More on bullet journaling later today.

Breakfast for Honey, and breakfast for me, while I scan the day’s email. I deal with the responses which will take just a few minutes. (The two minute rule makes sense.) I leave the rest for Julia to schedule.

Then I deal with the missed copywriting project; I make a good start on it, and will have it done by close of business today. Before I start, I call the client and leave a sincere apology on his machine. I feel horrible over this. It should never have happened.

Next, a super-quick walk.

Copywriting marketing materials, and blogging

I need to get this rush job with the product inventory done tomorrow, so I spend the rest of the morning on that.

Phone calls, and lunch at my computer, while scanning social media, and checking over my draft blog posts.

Next, blogging for clients

I love blogging, but it’s relentless. No matter what else is happening, you need to keep up with your blog posts. I complete four posts, and create drafts for several more. I also add content for other posts which will be published this week. I schedule three posts.

Then it’s back to the copywriting project I missed. I leave it for Julia to proof and send to the client. I draft a quick note from me, apologizing again. Thank heavens that’s done.

Bullet journaling: write, see, remember

As I said yesterday, I keep several handwritten journals, because they help my productivity, by keeping me focused on the tasks at hand.

Journaling averts inertia. Inertia is always a big danger for writers. You’re battling inertia every time you begin a project. You battle it during projects too… You daydream and muse, instead of writing. Yes, thinking is important. However, general “thinking” tends to drift off into floating clouds of fantasy, and before you know it, you’re mulling over your next vacation, or wondering what happened to your red-headed best friend from second grade.

It’s no wonder that writers procrastinate. I used to be the queen of procrastination, and it’s an on-going battle to keep it under control. Journaling helps.

I investigated bullet journaling a few months back. A couple of writers I trust are keen on it. However, I didn’t see the need at the time. Now I do, because there’s a big problem with digital scheduling. Yes, it’s effective. However, it’s also possible to back-burner tasks endlessly, and there’s no real day by day archive of what you’ve done, and why you did it.

I’m not calling out any product, but have you seen the archive in OmniFocus, for example? Totally useless. Everything’s jumbled in together. I should say that I’ve used OmniFocus for years — even before it was OmniFocus, and will continue to use it. OmnifFocus started out as Ethan Schoonover’s Kinkless GTD — which was amazing for its time.

So, I decided to implement my own bullet journal. It’s easy to set up in just a few minutes — watch the video here, and you’ve got the gist. Once I’d set it up — in the Leuchtturm1917/ Whitelines medium hardcover notebook I received the other day — I immediately entered the starred items from my handwritten journal. I star items I want to transfer elsewhere, but I rarely get around to doing it.

Of course, it’s MUCH too early to judge how my new system will turn out. I do feel more in control, however. And in the course of setting up the Leuchtturm1917, I remembered several tasks I’d forgotten to enter anywhere else. Yes, writing by hand is slower, but it helps your memory. I’ve created a couple of Collections too, and have added them to the index so that I can find them again.

Fiction, at the wrong time of the day

I returned some phone calls, then opened Scrivener to get back to the novella. I thought that I’d just write a few hundred words, so I wouldn’t lose the thread of the project, but I managed just over 1,000 words, which is excellent, considering how distracted I’ve been.

Finally, my daily review — of my bullet journal and others :-) — and the day’s done. I’ll spend some time on the company history tonight, and the ebook I’m writing for a client. You end up having to scramble to catch up when things slip through the cracks. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.