We all want to get organized, but we don’t all agree on the best way to do it. For me, the calendar, tasks, contacts, and notes have been digital since 2001. More than a decade and a half later, many people still prefer paper. Tactile people like the feel. Some people talk about the flexibility of being able to use it anywhere.
I used the “one book” method for over a decade before going digital and can understand why people are attracted to this medium. One movement has caught my attention, and quite frankly, has left me a little puzzled. It’s the “Bullet Journal.”
Having used a Day-Timer, the Bullet Journal seems overly complex with its “spreads,” “index,” “migration,” and so forth. The biggest drawback to me is the lack of a day to schedule future tasks. With my Day-Timer, if I wanted to be reminded of a task two weeks from Thursday, I would flip ahead in the planner and write it on the page for that day.
The Bullet Journal uses a blank journal and has no provision for assigning specific pages for future days. Still, the system has its followers.
If the thought of housing your system in a paper journal is appealing, I have something for you that I think is better and simpler.
Jason Womack and the Journal
Back in 2011, my friend Jason Womack recorded three short YouTube videos which outline how he uses his journal. Take a look at this first one, and then I will fill in some background.
Jason began his career as a high school teacher. Every teacher is told how important it is to document phone calls, conferences, and other interactions. Yet, nobody gives you a good way to do it. Jason’s principal was different.
Jason’s principal gave him the technique you just saw:
- Take your notes from front to back.
- List your actions from back to front
When the phone rings, you always know where to write. Flip the book open from the front to the next blank spot.
When you are planning your day or have time during the day to tackle your pre-defined work, you always know where to go. Flip the book open from the back.
Keeping It Current
Any system works at first. (In fact, you probably just read that post from me last week.) The trick is keeping it clean. In this video, Jason shows you how to do that.
Those of us who plan digitally like the idea of having all of our information with us no matter where we are. We can get to it from any of our devices, including the phone in our pocket. If you organize with paper, the same idea of having all of your plans and to-dos with you is likely also appealing. Jason just gave you a simple way to do it.
The Secret Pocket
The nice thing about a journal is the pages are bound to the spine of the book. Nothing is loose. Nothing falls out. But, we live in a world have we have to handle loose stuff. This final video will leave you with some good ideas.
Several times, I have gone to my mailbox and found a hand-written notecard from Jason. I know he travels a lot. Sure, you have time on the plane to handle small projects, but who is going to have the materials at hand in a situation like that? Now, you know the answer!
If you like the idea of having a small fold-up calendar in the pocket, check out this site. You can have the whole year on one side of a sheet of paper. Print the next year on the back if you like for some way future planning! Fold it twice and slip it in the pocket of your journal.
We’re All Looking for a Better Way
My hat is off to anybody who spends the time to put together a productivity system that works for them and is willing to share it with the world. If digital works for you, I hope you find best practice for handling your world digitally as you read my work.
If you like paper, use paper. After all, for a tool to make you productive, it must be one you will use.
By the Way…
…how are you at meetings? Take a second to try your hand at this quiz to see how effective you are at leading and getting benefit from meetings.