Bullet Journaling

I've recently been on a real scaling-back-digital-distractions kick. Most recently, I read Deep Work and Digital Minimalism (both by Cal Newport) back to back. I highly recommend them. They really confirmed and validated my efforts to cull distraction in my life, to live more intentionally.

After finishing up Ditial Minimalism, I happened to find my Bullet Journal that I had purchased a few months ago when I stumbled across that system. I had never gotten around to starting it -- my perfectionist tendencies keep me from starting a lot of things that could contribute value to my life. I want to wait until the perfect time and when I'm perfectly prepared. But that's probably a good subject for another day.

I decided now was as good a time as any to try the insanely popular analog method for organizing and tracking your life.

I'm not here to review the method itself. You can hit Ryder's short tutorial on his website (Ryder Carroll is the creator of the Bullet Journal system).

What I'm here to report is that it's a really solid system. If you look for examples on social media, the crazy artistic spreads can be intimidating. But when you look at the core of the system, none of that is important. The system itself is simple, maintainable, and built on core principles that really help maintain focus towards what's important in your life. And it's also more flexible than any system I've ever explored -- which is important because of how different our lives are.

The big question going forward for me is the balance between BuJo (as it's often abbreviated -- I still think it sounds vaguely dirty) and the rest of my existing system: a combination of calendars and Omnifocus tasks where I store everything. I often joke that if it's not on my calendar or in omnifocus, it doesn't exist.

I don't anticipate moving away from Omnifocus or my digital calendars. Omnifocus is just too well-suited to remembering repeated tasks (my quarterly reminder for spraying for bugs just popped up today, for example). BuJo does have ways of dealing with these long term repeating tasks, but I'd rather find what value BuJo can add, rather than trying to shoehorn my whole life into a system that doesn't automatically share with my wife, like my calendar does.

I think what it adds for me is an easy way to keep track of what happens day to day, along with forced re-evaluation as to whether something is actually important in my life. Bullet Journaling involves a lot of migrating -- rewriting old uncompleted tasks in the new day/week/month that you're working on. This friction is intentional -- if it's not worth the few seconds required to rewrite a task, that task can probably be abandoned. This built-in intentionality is part of why the system is attractive to me.

Bullet Journaling is just one of my many efforts to reclaim intentionality and focus in my life. I have high hopes that it will continue to be useful. If it intrigues you, give it a try! It requires very little investment -- just a notebook and something to write with -- along with a desire to bring more focus to your life.

I hope you find it useful!

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