Productivity Tools: a Bullet Journal Makes You Smarter

Productivity Tools: a Bullet Journal Makes You Smarter

If you want to be productive, you need good productivity tools. Not only can the right tools save you time, they can make you smarter as well. I’ve always been interested in productivity software; I used to review software for computer magazines, back in the day.

Hands down, my favorite productivity app of all time is the dear departed Lotus Agenda. Agenda fans have been looking for a replacement for 20 years. The program had a steep learning curve. But once you’d figured it out, with the help of a couple of thick manuals, Agenda did what no other software has done as well: it made you smarter. You shoveled information in, and it showed you what you need to know when you needed to know it, as well as making connections between bits of information for you.

I think I’ve found my own replacement for Agenda, and it’s not an app. It’a a bullet journal.

I’ve written about my bullet journal here, and here. I won’t cover the same ground. Watch the brief video on the bullet journal website, and try it for yourself.

You might find as I do, that it fills a gap in your time management and productivity efforts. Or it may not be to your taste all all. However, as the days go by I’m more and more impressed by how elegantly simple a bullet journal is.

Bullet Journaling: Am I Going Totally Analogue?

A reader asked this, and my answer is: NO, of course not. I have so much material in Evernote, OmniFocus and Things that that could never happen. Evernote is my general business Inbox. I use OmniFocus for client stuff, and Things for everything related to my writing students and ebooks/ books/ programs. I need the repeating tasks in those apps, otherwise I’d never keep track.

I’ve always used paper journals; my bullet journal is an enhancement to my collection of productivity tools and time management apps.

My bullet journal helps me to see what I need to do NOW, today, and what I need to do over the next few weeks. I don’t duplicate tasks and appointments I’ve entered into apps at all, there would no point. The bullet journal emphasizes what I MUST focus on throughout the day, and collects sudden rushes of blood to the head. :-)

Here’s how this works in practice. It’s mid-morning on a Sunday. I’ve worked through everything scheduled for the day in OmniFocus; I have four tasks left in Things; and I have four tasks and several notes in my Leuchtturm bullet journal. One of the bullet journal tasks I decided against doing after I’d entered it, so that has a line drawn through it.

I’m not looking to replace my apps with the bullet journal. It’s an added safeguard so that I won’t miss anything. The Collections are brilliant. I’m a big list maker, and most of my lists are in Evernote. I tend just to scan them, then delete them. Writing a list by hand helps me to remember, so I’ll be keeping my lists in the bullet journal going forward.

The bottom line: for whatever reason, the bullet journal helps me to feel in control. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s fun. What’s not to like? The “fun” comes from my obsession with fancy fountain pens and inks. :-)

I get the same feeling of comfort and security from my bullet journal that I once got from Lotus Agenda, and haven’t been able to find from any app since. I feel more in control of my schedule, and I even imagine that it’s making me smarter. Who knows, maybe it will. :-)

, 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 36: Journals and Story Journals

Writing Journal 36: Journals and Story Journals

My writing journal for Wednesday, September 17, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Another slow start this morning. Late yesterday a copywriting client called and asked for a rush job. He needs some marketing materials by the end of his week. He’s bought out another company’s inventory. The new stock is a change of direction for him.

So before I could get on with the novella, and the nonfiction book edit, I needed to rearrange some of this week’s projects to make room for this new copywriting project. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of wiggle room, which means that I’ll be working late.

With that done, it’s onward with the novella. Yesterday’s brainstorming means that I’ve got a firm grasp of the story and the characters, so things should go more smoothly. They do; I manage 2,700 words.

A couple of readers have asked me about journals.

Journals and story journals

I have two kinds of journals, this journal, which is an expurgated version of my daily journal (a work diary, if you like), and project journals.

Journals are invaluable because they keep you writing. I handwrite my daily journal, three times a day. Always before I start writing, then after lunch (sometimes before lunch) and again after the writing day is done.

People keep journals for many different reasons. My reasons:

  • My journals clear my mind; they keep me focused on my writing tasks;
  • They help me to both capture and work out ideas;
  • They get any emotional stuff out of the way so I can focus on words.

Focus is especially vital when you’re writing fiction; a novel, or as I’m writing currently, a series of novellas.

Over the years, I’ve ditched several novels because I lost their emotional thread. Anytime you take time off from fiction, you take a risk that you’ll lose your inspiration.

Keeping a story journal helps: you can talk to yourself on the page. Mystery author Sue Grafton often talks about her book journals.

Journaling is a form of pre-writing, and it helps my productivity. Whenever I get “too busy” to journal, I end up writing less.

I don’t have time for the nonfiction ebook edits this morning; I’ve slated them for tonight.

Time for Honey’s breakfast. Then I eat my own, while dealing with email.

Next, some phone calls, and then onward with the company history. I manage to write 2,400 words; it’s going well.

I’m tempted to eat at my computer, but that would be stupid. I didn’t go for a walk this morning, and I need a break. It’s a lovely day, so I go for a quick walk, then come back and have lunch.

The two presentations are almost done. It takes another two timer sessions, then they’re ready for Julia to check.

More email and phone calls, and then it’s back to the company history book, so that I can read over what I have, and make some notes for tomorrow.

Research for the rush copywriting job

I called the client, to get some phone numbers. I need to do a couple of quick research interviews. I manage to catch both people in their office, with time to chat. That’s wonderful; it means that I can get most of the material I need.

My Livescribe Echo is perfect for these kinds of interviews, because I don’t need to record the entire conversation, just important parts.

The time slips away. Before know it, the day’s done. I do my daily review, and total my word counts. I’ll need to work on the nonfiction book edits later tonight.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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