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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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How to Fight Information Overload

How to Fight Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

  1. Set your goals.
  2. Decide whether you really need the information.
  3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
  4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

The Nature of the Problem

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

Why information overload is bad

It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

1. Set your goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. What to do when facing new information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

3. Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

In Closing

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

(Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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