My Bullet Journalling system (Evan's Questions)

Evan has kindly agreed to help me write about my Bullet Journal system by asking prompting questions.

How does your BuJo system differ from the original?

Whew, that’s a big question. Let’s start with, how does my BuJo system not differ from the original? I’ve kept:

  • index
  • daily log (although it’s split into two types)
  • the migration concept
  • page numbers (mostly)
  • the concept of modules
  • the concept of bullets (including tasks, events and notes)
  • the concept of signifiers (mostly different)
  • my monthly log is really a calendar.
  • threading

I’ve changed pretty much everything else.
I’ve designed a completely different set of symbols for everything except note:

More info about my key here.

Currently I have two main bullet journals which serve different functions:
‘Walter’ (after the character from Fringe - Walter is a crazy scientist who comes up with plans but gets easily distracted) which I use to compensate for deficiencies in my short term memory. The intention is that when Walter is full, I will migrate any items from it that I want to keep into a new ‘Walter’ and discard the old Walter. In the front of Walter I have an index of project pages, and other temporary modules, followed by said modules. In the back (the journal turned upside down) I start immediately (no index, no page numbers) with daily logs that generally only contain tasks. Walter, a Noto Large is big, scrappy, utilitarian, monochrome:

‘Olivia’ (another Fringe character, who remembers tiny details forever) which I use to compensate for deficiencies in long term memory, i.e. for any information I want to keep forever. When I get to the end of an Olivia, I can archive the previous one, and continue almost as if it was the same book. There’s generally nothing to migrate because it’s just a record of the past. There’s an index at the front, for all the various modules. And at the back (flipped over) I have a daily log for recording any significant events in detail that I might want to read about later. My calendar goes in Olivia because, although it is technically a ‘future’ thing, it provides an excellent overview record of the whole month, without me having to really do any work. Unlike Walter, every bullet point in every Olivia can be referenced. For example 4/136:8 means the 8th point on the 136th page of the 4th Olivia book.
Olivia, a Clairefontain Age Bag Threadbound A5, is relatively slender, has nicer paper, more attractively presented by still plain and functional, and I use coloured pens to help me find specific types of logs. It’s also pre-numbered:

The reason I put daily logs in the back, is because daily logs take up a lot of space, and it’s difficult to predict exactly how much, you always have to keep allocating more. If you put the daily log at the back, then it will just meet the other modules in the middle, or wherever.

I actually have a third journal, ‘Astrid’ (yup, another Fringe character, who spends most of her time assisting Walter) which is a much smaller version of Walter, for travelling, so that I don’t have to carry Walter. Astrid contains modules for travel plans, train times, and context-specific lists, such as things to talk to a specific person about when I see them next:

How many BuJos have you filled up?

3 so far. Currently filling 3 more simultaneously. The rate of page use has dropped a lot since I started in September 2016.

What do you do with tasks you want to get done sometime soon but not today?

Put them in the daily log and then mark them as ‘neglected’.

For a while I tried having a general task page, but I found that I would only really pay attention to those tasks when migrating them, and the rest of the time the tasks would just accumulate until I run out of space on the page. Also as GTD points out, you shouldn’t have mulitple places where tasks can be as it just splits your focus and makes it harder to decide what to do.

Lately I’ve started writing tasks that don’t necessarily need to be done today, on the next page from the current daily log. This prevents me from totally ignoring the list, since it’s still part of the daily log system, but allows me to distinguish between tasks I want to do today, and tasks I want to do whenever. I’m not sure if this will lead to task proliferation.

Do you have a daily BuJo routine?

Minimal. It used to be longer, but the longer the routine, the harder it is to keep doing when you’re not functioning very well.

My routine goes something like this:

  1. Set up Daily (task) Log:
    1. Write the date in my task log and underline it
    2. copy out the list of daily tasks, of which two are BuJo tasks, and draw a box around it
  2. the first listed BuJo task is calendar:
    1. write any appointments or tasks from today’s cell into daily log
    2. look to the left of the calendar and write any tasks that need to be done on this day of the week, into the daily log
    3. extend the line down the left of the cell to indicate that these two tasks have been done
  3. the second listed task: towards the end of the day, if anything worth recording happened, write diary entries in Olivia.
  4. There used to be third task: ‘diagnostics’, but I’ve abandoned doing self-diagnostics for the time being.
Forgive, and you will see this differently.