From Digital to Analog Productivity (The Bullet Journal)

podcast Mar 06, 2020

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I have a confession to make.

When I first got into the wonderful world of productivity, I really thought it was all about calendar, to-do, and notes apps.

Yeah, I know. Silly, clueless me!

Then I came to my senses! (Thankfully!)

First, some context

At 54 years young, I can remember a time when there were no cell phones (let me know if you remember even before there were cordless phones...when the phone was hard-wired to the wall!).

And then technology came of age.

This was followed very quickly by the Internet and apps.

It's no secret that in our day and age, we’re obsessed with all forms of technology (including social media and all the other apps).

Personally, I believe technology can be a blessing and a curse. The key is we get to choose. We have to be the human and in control of technology instead of the other way around.

Tough question: how many minutes, I’m sorry…HOURS, are you on your phone each day?

If you have an iPhone, check your Screen Time (if it's not enabled, enable it!). If you don't have an iPhone, go download an app from your App Store to find out how much time you're really spending on your phone.

According to research from RescueTime (in 2019), one of several apps for iOS and Android created to monitor phone use, people generally spend an average of three hours and 15 minutes on their phones every day, with the top 20% of smartphone users spending upwards of four and a half hours.

How about you?

In early 2019, Vitamin Water held a contest where they would give one winner $100,000 if they gave up their smartphone for a year. Would you have done that? Could you live without your smartphone for a year?


You don’t need technology to be productive.

Does that statement shock you?

It's the truth.

Which brings me to...

I recently began using the Bullet Journal created by Ryder Carroll (who authored the book, The Bullet Journal Method).

If you're not familiar with Bullet Journals, it's a simple notebook (thus the analog part) where you keep all your tasks, events*, lists, and collections.

Now, lest you think that this can quickly become a chaotic mess, the key to the Journal is the Index. At the beginning of your notebook, you allocate 4 pages and label them "INDEX". Then, you number the subsequent pages and place whatever is on the page (the topic) in the index. This makes finding things incredibly easy.

I have collections (special pages in my journal) for quotes, books read, books I want to read, daily logs, goals, repeating tasks, gratitude and more! The options are literally limitless.

Find out more at bulletjournal(dot)com.

(* - I still put my events on my iPhone.)

Mr. Carroll says that the purpose of the Bullet Journal is to "help people become mindful about how we spend our two most valuable resources: time and energy. The Bullet Journal Method will help you accomplish more by working on less. It helps you identify and focus on what is meaningful by stripping away what is meaningless.”

The Bullet Journal method is endorsed by David Allen (author of Getting Things Done) and Cal Newport (author of Deep Work and Digital Minimalism, two of my all-time favorite books.)

Why I love the Bullet Journal

  • There is no wrong way to set up your Bullet Journal. Use any notebook (I'll share what I use in a moment).
  • Unlike productivity apps, your Journal is totally customizable. You can even doodle in it!

My Bullet Journal

After reading Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism, I went out and purchased a pocket-sized (3.5” x 5.5”) Moleskine Classic Hard Cover Notebook. I love this notebook because it fits nicely in my pocket.

Oftentimes, believe it or not, I leave my house with only my cellular Apple Watch and my notebook. It's so freeing.

But then I fell in love with the Bullet Journal and converted my pocket notebook into a Bullet Journal.

Now, I have what I consider the best of both worlds. It goes with me everywhere.

The journal I use for my Bullet Journal (affiliate link)

The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future (Ryder Carroll) (affiliate link)

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