In a clear sign that I needed a better system, I’ve had “start a bullet journal” on my to-do list for months. But my to-do list, up until now, has actually been lists — plural — with no organization or simple way of moving unfinished tasks to a new list.
So every Friday afternoon, as I wrapped up my work week, I would take my sad, scratched-out list (example) and migrate it to a fresh new one. By 10am on Monday, it was already a mess again. And I don’t do well with messes.
Especially because I’m a Type A and I like.things.the.way.I.like.them., the bullet journal appealed to me. Plus, with several clients and events to juggle, I really wanted a way to give everything its own label or assignment, so I could quickly see what was open on any particular project, as well as what priority tasks needed my attention.Have you tried a bullet journal for your tasks? It's changed my to-do list!Click To Tweet
- It’s all about rapid logging, which is sort of its own language or system. Logging is broken down into four components: topics, page numbers, short sentences and bullets.
- The bullets also have sub-categories: tasks, events and notes.
- From there, each task has a series of states, which is just a fancy way of saying it gets a little dot if it’s an open task, and then an X, < or > depending on whether it’s completed, rescheduled or migrated.
- The migration is, for me, the best part. Because instead of having one list or a calendar-based planner, you use the marks (states) to keep track of what you’ve done and what has been moved. Every day gets its own short to-do list. At the end of each day, everything is either marked completed or rescheduled, and then a new list is set up for the next day. Once a month (or whatever works for you), you totally refresh things.
That migration means that everything stays in one notebook, but because of the page numbering and other labels, the order of the pages really doesn’t matter. The key and the index are really helpful.How to use a bullet journal for blog and social media tasksClick To Tweet
How to Use a Bullet Journal for Blog and Social Media Tasks
The Bullet Journal website has some suggestions on the best ways to set things up but it also makes it clear that the system itself is fairly flexible. I’ve already made some big tweaks (based on things I’ve seen in other Bullet Journals) and ditched some things that don’t make sense for me.
For example, I use:
- A brain dump page.
This is where I add ALL of my to-do items, brainstorms, “I should consider this someday” things, regardless of priority level. I add little box next to each one with pink (blog and social media tasks), yellow (Make Media Over client tasks), blue (other work tasks) and green (personal things like “replace garage door” and “sign Audrey up for swimming lessons”).
- Priority labels.
One of the biggest things I’ve done in recent months is create a #1, #2 and #3 task for each day. They are the priorities, and they MUST get done before anything else. If they are the only things that get completed…so be it! So on my daily journal/task list, I assign the three numbers and start there.
- A client list.
I have some clients who are on short-term contracts, some who are on long-term contracts, some who have contracted me for one-off projects and some who have booked me for weekly or monthly mastermind/coaching calls. Having their names and statuses in one place is really helpful for me, especially since I make a point of trying to check in on them (and look at their online activities! #consultantcreeper) regularly.
- Blog post ideas.
I already use and love CoSchedule for drafting and scheduling my blog posts and social media (see my review here) but sometimes my best ideas come when I’m in the car or away from my computer. Or often, they’re not fully formed ideas but I want a place to jot them down (that won’t get lost or crumpled up later). So, this page helps me brainstorm ideas that I can then later add to my calendar (part of my batch processing routine!).
- Course/ebook notes.
This isn’t a single page, but is actually just a regular part of my journal (organized by non-chronological page numbers and my index, which will make more sense if you go to the getting started page). I’m constantly registering for webinars or buying ebooks or online courses (or publishing my own!) and while I go through the tools, I jot down notes by hand. In the past, all of these pieces of paper got stuffed into a folder, never to be revisited, but now I know that everything is safe and sound in one journal and it makes it much easier to go back and find the notes and scribbles when I need them.
I’m a really big believer in SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely. But that doesn’t mean I don’t dare to dream! So I have a page that acts sort of like a vision board, with everything from double my July revenue in August to run three times a week. This isn’t the place where I map out strategies…it’s just a home for the things I want to achieve in my personal and professional lives.
This is a little hippie dippie, but this is my doodles and dreams page. It’s a collection of quotes and phrases that I find powerful and uplifting and sometimes I’ll add some color or drawings. I often repurpose these and make them into social media graphics (examples 1 2 and 3), but they’re really just for me.
I have found it to be the most flexible type of planner…and believe me, I’ve tried them all. Calendar- and date-based journals just don’t work well for me because often, my to-do list is fluid, and tasks just need to get done sometime in a day, week or month, but may not have a set time. Also, I have come to learn that I get overwhelmed at feeling like all of my items have to be grouped together. With the bullet journal, I might have five pages for my brain dump, but they could appear as 5-6, 13, 25 and 60, rather than five sequential pages.
I still use and rely on my online calendar for day-specific tasks, but I also put them on my bullet journal lists, so that I can keep track of my must-do items.
I’ve been pinning as many bullet journal resources and examples as I can, so you can check back there for updates. And here are some other posts that I found really helpful.
WTF Is A Bullet Journal And Why Should You Start One? An Explainer via Rachel Wilkerson Miller/BuzzFeed
Minimalist Bullet Journalists via Tiny Ray of Sunshine
Bullet Journal for Freelance Work via Pretty Prints & Paper