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You Only Need A Tiny Journal To Supercharge Your Productivity

You Only Need A Tiny Journal To Supercharge Your Productivity

You know next month will be busy. Several big projects are due at work, your friend is getting married, and your sister wants you to babysit while she goes on vacation. Suddenly, you start to dread those reminders popping up on your smartphone. That little screen covered with pinging reminders and to-dos is making you feel claustrophobic.

Technology is great for so many things. But sometimes old-fashioned tools just make more sense. Making use of a simple handwritten journal will not only save you from the stress of technology overwhelm, it will also make you more productive in your daily life.

The Challenge of Staying Organized

Chances are you have tried different methods of organization in the past. Post-its, phone apps, calendars. They all have their place as organizational tools. Yet, each of these tools lacks the ability to cover all of your organizational needs in a given month. The sticky side of a Post-it note wears out, and somehow your Post-it reminder about this week’s dentist appointment ends up in the goldfish bowl. Phone apps are easy to ignore when reminders pop up while you are busy doing something else. Calendars don’t usually have enough room for you to list all your daily tasks.

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The Bullet Journal

The Bullet Journal — Invented, ironically, by a digital product designer, this handwritten organizational system is now increasing productivity for people around the world. Ryder Carroll of Brooklyn, NY experienced the same challenges with organization that all of us face in the digital age. Yet instead of turning his smartphone to silent, hunkering down, and hoping the barrage of reminders would stop, he decided to invent a new strategy for getting organized. In the process, he wound up returning to old-fashioned pen and paper to get the job done.

Setting Up Your Bullet Journal

The Bullet Journal only takes about half an hour to set up at the beginning of each month. Setting it up involves creating a simple index along with monthly and daily logs. Carroll invented a collection of symbols to easily separate tasks, events, and notes. As a result, you can write down everything you need to get done all in one list, while easily distinguishing between these three categories. The monthly log allows for an overview of the weeks ahead, while the daily log breaks down your to-dos into bite size chunks. Check out this video for more information about the Bullet Journal and how to set one up for yourself.

The Bullet Journal has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, and it enjoys over 100,000 followers on various Facebook groups. In a time where smartphone apps reign supreme, this handwritten system has gathered quite a following.

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Simple Ways to Get Started

1. Buy a paper journal of your choice.

It doesn’t get any easier than that. The Bullet Journaling system works with any type of journal or notebook.

2. Find and make use of a pen.

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Yes, I am actually putting this as a step. Considering that most of us spend our time typing or inputting information on our phones, finding a quality pen takes attention these days. I also want to highlight how ridiculously simple it is to get started with a Bullet Journal to show you that you really have no excuse.

3. Watch Carroll’s short video about setting up the Bullet Journal.

You can find the video in the middle of this article. Pay attention to the symbols he uses and be sure to record each page in your index. Other than that, his tips are pretty self-explanatory.

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4. Enjoy increased productivity and less stress.

With all of your reminders and notes in one place, you can scan your daily log in the morning and then relax, knowing that you will remember to get everything done.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay.com via pixabay.com

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Lindsay Shaffer

Freelance Writer, Artist, Photographer

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

Reference

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