A thought from Rachel Smith

25th November 2016

Positive remote working habit - bullet journaling

Soon, I'll be sharing a post detailing how I've moved from working in an agency environment to remotely working from home, and the habits I've developed to stay productive. Rather than publish a mammoth post with all the details, I'll instead break down the most beneficial habits into their own post first. Today, I'll talk about bullet journaling.

First, a little about me. I am not a type A personality. If anything, I detest time management and planning and have always railed against such activities since I was a teen. The idea of todo lists and timetables (outside of the necessary work-related ones) always felt suffocating to me. And for a long time I had managed to get by and even succeed by storing key information in my brain and flitting about doing "whatever I felt like" in the moment. There came the point, though, which I'll talk about in a later post where that wasn't working anymore.

When I first heard about bullet journaling, I wrote it off as another unappealing type-A planning activity, as I had always disliked planner journals and apps with set layouts. However, a friend of mine had a lot of positive things to say about the process, so I gave it a proper second look. And after doing some research, I realised this might be the perfect "planning" system for non-planner types.

The bullet journaling system is a planning, ToDo and note-taking system in which you take a blank notebook and create your own "modules" in which to record your notes. The creator of the system, Ryder Carrol has defined some guidelines as to how to go about this, but my favourite thing about the bullet journal is you can make up your own rules and layouts. If you check out the #bujo hashtag on instagram you can see some people have turned making their own "spreads" into an art form. Although I don't have a nearly as impressive journal as other people, the fact I can scribble down some quick notes one week, and elegantly letter my headings the next, means this journal system perfectly fits my natural tendency to lean into chaos and reject perfectly planned order.

Some pictures of my journal pages
Some pages from my journal, full of mistakes, kind of a mess (like my mind!) but they get the job done.

I have experienced many positive side effects after getting into the habit of bullet journaling, some of which I will share in my positive remote worker habits summary post. The best thing about bullet journaling has been not having to carry around the cognitive load of remembering what needs to get done, or what's happening next week. By writing these data points down, my brain is free to focus on the task at hand, and that's an amazing feeling (type-A's are saying "duh, Rachel" right now!). I also go to bed feeling satisfied a lot more than I used to, instead of just feeling guilty about all the things I was supposed to do that day but had forgotten.

So if you too identify as a free spirit who doesn't want to be restricted by time-management, but you keep forgetting about stuff or missing deadlines, maybe give the bullet journal method a try. I find it useful, enjoy it, and it gives me a good excuse to buy stationary!

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