I’m posting this longish review here on my Walking with God site because the spiritual life is often messy, disorganized and, yes, lazy. Or the best word might be “neglected.” The Bullet Journal can help here, too, and can help unify one’s life, work, and service to God. So give the article a good read.
There was not a single day that I did not consult and follow the notebook during the first month of using the Bullet Journal. That must be some sort of record for me. I usually tire or feel cramped by organizational systems or PIMs. I did not with this one. Maybe I’m just getting more mature, who knows, but I do chalk up the flexibility of the system to helping hold my attention.
The Habit Tracker
My stated priorities for this month and for the near future is to emphasize prayer, praise, and poetry. Thanks in large part to the Bullet system and the HabitTracker feature, I wrote a prayer every single day. 30 days.
The GiveGlory task wasn’t far behind. In the first 10 days, I wrote it four times. Thereafter, I missed one day only. So I wrote a total of 25 days.
Poetry writing was a bit behind that. In the first 10 days (seems it took me a while to get adjusted), I wrote five times. Thereafter, I missed five days. A total of 20 days.
A surprise was the GoSpeak posts for reports and Extras. It was included in my November Habit Tracker. This month I wrote 11 items. Supporters may not like hearing from me that much, however.
TheFellowshipRoom also got an uptick in my writing activity, some 17 days of posting.
The HabitTracker, one of the most useful features, showed me where I’m strong, and in what habits I’m weakest. It also let me see my sleep habits, average times for getting up and going to bed, as well as number of hours I managed to sleep.
I follow the Bullet system closely on the daily pages. One thing I have done for many years is to draw two diagonal lines through the finished to-do items on the page. The carry-forward feature in Bullet makes this easier to do. The lines help my eyes to skip over these items when I’m flipping through and scanning the pages, or when I’m doing some sort of review.
I don’t recall much said about reviewing the notebook in the Bullet lierature, but from GTD and other systems, that seems important. It helped me from time to time to scan through the notebook. I familiarize myself with it better, see things accomplished on a day page or project page to check off elsewhere, or catch something that might have fallen through the cracks.
I used — and continue to do so in December, until Daughter brings us our genu-wine [sic] Bullet notebooks — the small Moleskine notebook. It’s worked well, but for the calendar and tracker, it’s too small for comfort. I wanted to use up the pages in the Moleskine, however, so I feel good about that.
Because of the small size of the notebook and getting started with the system, I used 50 pages for a month’s journal. That doesn’t seem bad. For December I have left almost 60 pages, so that seems adequate for the need.
The Hairy-Scary Task Page
An original item with me is the project page I called the “HairyScary Things to Do.” (See a photo and description here.) I started it the last week of November, with five really big scary items after a few days. Within a week, one of them has been checked off. I had gone years needing to do this serious task — and I decline to admit how many — and now it’s done.
I even wrote a short poem with a reference to it.
I used to use a weekly planner, a lot. I liked not having to rewrite tasks that I didn’t do the previous day. I tend to overload my daily to-do list. But I get the idea of carrying them forward, rewriting reinforcing the need and the very existence of the task. So I worked with that without too much problem.
In the old systems I used, I would get lost at times having a monthly calendar, a weekly planner, and sometimes a daily list. It was too much to keep referencing back and forth between them all. The Bullet system seems to have just enough separateness while allowing the daily specifics.
Even though I took a loose approach with the index, I found it indispensible. In less than a month’s time, finding all the project pages can take a while without it. The index deserves probably more thought than I gave it. When I move to the new notebook, I’ll think it through some more.
Numbering the pages was a bit tedious, but necessary and helpful. In some older notebooks I had numbered pages and an index and it paid off. Not sure why I didn’t keep it up, but in the Bullet system it’s part and parcel of the experience. I’m glad to be doing it again.
I’m not sure that I like using the hyphen (-) to set off comment on the daily pages, since they seem to get lost afterwards. One can always add them to the index, and I do have something for them there. But more project pages may be better to add such comments (usually, some sort of writing idea, I think).
Prayer Requests and Thanksgivings
One of the project pages that takes up the most number of pages is the Prayer Request and Thanksgivings that I hear, both at church and from individuals. I don’t begrudge the space this project requires, since it’s one of my main objectives, but I note here that it allows me to keep up with them better. At the end of each page I use an arrow and the number of the next page — besides it and all pages being listed in the index. I separate the requests and thanksgivings on the pages by date and place. (We work in both Taubaté and Urbanova congregations.)
As I Went
One of the things that impressed me about the first month’s Bullet experience was how much better it is to get as specific as possible and to detail items thoroughly. I had seen this recommendation before in writings on productivity and organization, but had discounted it, especially in the spiritual area. I am now backtracking on that. It’s time for me to get specific.
This is already having an effect even in the type of writing I do. My devotionals, for example, are acquiring divisions to them. We’ll see how well that works out over the long haul.
Which brings me to a final observation. The more we can plan, the more specific we can be, even (or especially) in spiritual matters, the better we will do. I tend to be one who likes to wing it. I’m beginning to repent of that.
Of course, with every plan, we say, “If the Lord wills” James 4.13-17. Prayer begins, saturates, and ends every plan. We deliver up our plans and ideas to God. At the same time, he works his own plan and certainly does not disapprove of our making plans in our effort to participate in his.
To start your experience with Bullet Journal, go to their website.
Conclusion? Bullet Journal helps me focus, bring it all together in one place, make my priorities actionable, and end guesswork about what comes next.