I’ve been using the Bullet Journal System (Bujo) and Getting Things Done (GTD) for awhile now. This year’s review of my merging of these methodologies have resulted in a few new opportunities now that I’ve included Rockebooks into the mix.
GTD and The Bullet Journal System
I adhere precisely to The Bullet Journal System with no creative variations. No habit tracking, no elaborate designs or meticulously designed spreads. Does this make me a minimalist? No, I just use the system as it was intended. While social media loves artfully laid out spreads I use the system exactly as described in the website. Pencil to paper, usually in a basic notebook.
Getting Things Done is the methodology I use to process everything. Capture, Clarify, Organize, Reflect and Engage with what I need to do.
The capturing process is where they differ. I mostly prefer Rapid Logging. GTD is flexible and adaptable with loose sheets of paper ready to be processed as non-linear actions. BuJo works best in a linear notebook. Merging the two has become personal process and here’s how I’ve evolved the two.
My Combined Methodology
Capture and Collect Everything as I discover what needs to be done.
- Inbox tray, everything analog
- Email, text messages, Basecamp, Twitter, everything digital
- Next Actions Lists & Project Lists
- Calendar items and deadlines
Clarify what comes next, I clear my inboxes once a day or as often as needed to keep current.
- GTD’s Two Minute Rule, if it takes two minutes do it now.
- Gather everything into a single place. This varies. Sometimes it’s my Bullet Journal’s Daily Log, or a Rocketbook spread.
- Not actionable yet? I’ll trash it, place it on a Projects List or archive it as reference.
I don’t stare at my inbox constantly, I process the items or perform the action. Ideally, I’ll let the inbox sit and gather several unprocessed items before it needs my attention.
- Update Projects Lists with new information or to-do items, keep them current and when possible in one place.
- Migrate a single next task for each project to a Next Action List, anything that could be done right now but only one!
- Every week I review all my projects
- I review my Bullet Journal’s Daily Log
- Review what I’ve finished
- Verify there are no open loops or unfinished actions.
- If I need to follow up on something I’ll place a note in the Bujo’s Daily Log or a sheet of paper placed into the in tray, Often I jot it on a single Rocketbook page then place that in my In-Tray for clarifying later.
Engage by moving each project forward by it’s next action
- Perform the next action for each project on the list
- Update that action’s Project list, add that projects next task to the Next actions list.
- Decide to keep working on that project or move onto another next action from the list.
My method is to engage with My Next Actions Lists in such a way that I review all that needs to be done often enough maintain a big picture outlook on all my projects. I may dive further into a project and tackle a few more items or simply do the one action. By looping though the process I am able to keep non-linear lists current and drill down into any one of them at a time of my choosing.
What’s Best? A Rocketbook, a Journal, Evernote?
The short answer is all of them. While re-reading Getting Things Done and reflecting on the last few months of this pandemic I realized that there is no single system that does everything perfectly for my needs. Chances are you feel the same way.
I’ve found that a Bullet Journal excels at linear organization by Rapid Logging everything that is on my mind. However, it fails in keeping all the non-linear and digital items from slipping by. I’ll create a two page spread for a new project only to discover a few hours later that the project has concluded leaving me with nearly two empty pages. It’s a bit of a waste. It takes up physical space in the book between other ongoing projects.
My Rocketbooks excel at non-linear and temporary collections or Project Lists. Over the course of the last couple weeks I’ve create a spread in any one of them and upon review a project discover it’s not longer needed. I’ll archive the pages in Evernote and during a weekly review decide if there are any next actions.
However, If the project was particularly important or insightful I’ll migrate key information back to my Bullet Journal.
The failures of Rocketbooks are also the features that make them invaluable. While fantastic for capturing notes and daily activities they are temporary and never intended to be used as an archive. Evernote allows me to archive their contents but once erased from the page are not as easily accessed as flipping through my Bullet Journal.
Monthly Future Logs, Someday Lists, and other long term information won’t work well in a Rocketbook as they need to be completely erased within a few weeks or risk the ink permanently staining the page.
While Evernote is invaluable as an archive reference, it really sucks for casual reading. That’s where the Bullet Journal takes over.
Every December I review everything I did and didn’t do that year. I’ve found that a Bullet Journal is ideal for this task a single A5 notebook if maintained properly takes me from 12 to 14 months to fill up making it ideal to browse my life page by page, project by project.
My process has become a funnel of sorts. I collect tasks from a dozen or so sources daily and organize them onto a page and refining them into a single place where the actions are precisely organized.