Look up #bulletjournal on the social media platform of your choice, and you can feast your eyes on a sea of neatly inked notebook pages designed to track everything from daily to-do lists to inspirational quotes. Go ahead, roll your eyes. But bullet journals are an amazing productivity tool, if you can learn to adapt them to your life. No coloured pens required.
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Last week, I tried to get a subscription to Microsoft Office. I expected to simply find an Office licence that included what I needed for a simple price. Instead, I discovered that Microsoft's Office licenses are infuriatingly complex, making it nearly impossible for anyone to get what they need without overspending.
Are you desperately holding onto a failing Getting Things Done system that worked perfectly for someone you know? Do you find yourself trying out every single new productivity app that ... some blog or another points you toward? The Cranking Widgets Blog recommends starting over for both those GTD types (the "copycats" and the "fiddlers") and getting back to the bare essentials to see what works:Get rid of the fancy notebook, the expensive software and the pen made from the carcass of some endangered species. Go buy a couple boxes of crappy manila folders, a box of bic pens, a few reams of plain white printer paper and a pocket dayrunner-style calendar ... Force yourself to live in the GTD wilderness for awhile (which is paradise to some, by them way) and you'll start to appreciate the way some of the higher-tech setups work.Or, as the writer suggets, you may just fall in love with the joys of paper. Have you ever realized your productivity system was failing you? How did you get back on track? Share your stories of rebirth in the comments.
Your GTD System Isn't the Problem
Whether you're using a paper calendar or a computerised one, there are a few steps you can take now at the beginning of the year to maximise its usefulness.Here's a few things I did when I started my 2008 diary.1. Add in public holidays if they're not pre-printed in your diary. My Moleskine didn't have Australian public holidays, so I wrote them in myself. They vary slightly from state to state, so check here for a link to your state's public holidays for 2008.2. Add in the events you already have planned for the year. Often by the start of the new year you already have a number of trips or theatre tickets booked - make sure they get into your diary!3. Add in the birthdays and anniversaries you want to remember - and if you're using an online calendar with a reminder service, set it to remind you ahead of time so you can arrange a card or present. And here's a nifty idea from The Student Help Forum - carry paperclips with your diary so you can attach the documents you need while you're out on the road or at meetings. My old diary had a plastic sleeve at the back which I used to carry documents like flight booking details, but paper clips let you attach documents to the page for the day you'll need them.So how are you tweaking your calendar to get set for the new year? Share ideas in comments please!
In the course of planning how I'll run my personal organisation system next year, I've had to do some thinking about whether to use an online calendar, or continue to use a paper one. In my job, which involves a lot of travel and external meetings, I need a portable calendar which contains not only my appointments but also the information I need about them (ie who is attending, their contact details, maps or directions for getting there, etc). I also need to be able to make new appointments on the spot - I hate having to say "I'll need to check my diary when I get back to my desk" - so my diary goes with me everywhere.There's no reason why I couldn't use a PDA for this, in fact I've done so before. This gives the benefit of being able to synch information from your desktop computer to your portable one. But to be honest, I return to the paper diary because I prefer to write
notes in my diary to having to synch the PC and PDA, or update a PDA with it's fiddly little keyboard.More recently the ability to share invitations and events via Google Calendar has gotten me using that for planning joint events, so for 2008 I plan to use Google Calendar for joint events, and my Moleskine for planning my personal day to day schedule.So will you be an electronic or paper diary person in 2008? Do you use a blend of both? Share your system in comments please.
Web site Planner Hack details how to turn your pocket-sized Moleskine into a custom weekly planner with an at-a-glance look at your upcoming week. With no shortage of pre-made weekly planners in the world, why would you want to put together a DIY version? There's really just one (albeit very good) reason: You've decided it's time to get your schedule in order, but guess what: It's neither the start of a new year nor the start of a new school year, and since most planners run on these calendars, you're either stuck buying a planner that's only half usable or you just don't buy a planner because it seems like a waste of money at this point. So while this Moleskine planner hack is far from mind-blowing, it's the perfect, cheap interim planner.