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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Bullet Journal to Skyrocket Your Productivity

How to Bullet Journal to Skyrocket Your Productivity

With our busy lives, it feels harder and harder to plan our life effectively—to keep track of everything we currently have to do, and to plan the things we want to do in the future. This is where learning how to bullet journal can come in handy.

You may have invested in a paper or digital planner to keep track of everything, or a journal to note down your thoughts and ideas. You may have Post-It notes on your desk or used an online project management tool such as Asana or Trello.

The thing is, we know what we want to do and resolve to do it, but then life gets in the way and our initial excitement and commitment falls down.

In this article, I will help you focus on what matters despite the constant changes in life by knowing how to bullet journal.

Setting up Your Bullet Journal

Here’s a simple guide for setting up your bullet journal:

Lay out Your Index

This should ideally be on Page 2 of your bullet journal. This is where all of your plans and collections get organized and refer back to the specific page number. Start at the top of the page and list down.

Include an index when learning how to bullet journal

    For example, September may be on Page 6. Only index the things that are important to you and that you want to refer back to.

    I will have an Index that Includes plans per month, long-term goals, weekly schedules, gratitude log, inspiring quotes, etc.

    The Key

    It’s suggested that you keep a key at the front or back of your bullet journal to track what all the symbols mean.

    The Future Log

    This is essentially how you lay out priorities, events, and appointments for the months ahead using bullet points.

    This can be 12 months ahead or 6 months ahead. Then, choose how many items per month to list. Try to keep it around 10 in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

    Monthly Log

    The monthly log[1] keeps track of all your current priorities, events, and appointments across the month.

    The aim here is simplicity. Some people will write the date and day down the left hand side of the page for every day in the month.

    Others will create boxes for each day to fill in and complete. Once you decide on which works for you, add in the actual event, task, or project.

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    The idea is to start the next month at the end of the existing month, rather than at the start of the month. As the month unfolds, you can update and add to it.

    Daily Log

    You can fill your day with all of the tasks and events, listed under the day’s date.

    For many, this is where the bullet journal is exciting as you can use the method of rapid logging and use the symbols (from the key).

    Once a task is complete, it gets crossed off with a simple X.

    How to Bullet Journal Effectively

    Now we’ve touched on a brief overview of how the bullet journal works, let’s get into 15 tips that you can use to get up and running with your own bullet journal today.

    1. Define Your Purpose

    Be crystal clear on your objective for using the bullet journal. The core aim of the journal is to increase productivity, but is that your main reason for using it?

    Is it to bring together all of your notes, ideas, and to-dos in one place? Do you want to bring together your personal and business goals to track your progress? Do you want to be more mindful about your day? Do better at remembering things?

    If you know what is motivating you, you have a better chance of really making it work in the long run.

    2. Start at the Source

    The video below is from bullet journal founder Ryder Carroll[2], who runs through the conventions of how the bullet journal works.

    3. Keep It Simple

    Many people start with a simple pen or pencil to get going, while others invest a little bit upfront and buy things like artist pens, midliners and fineliner pens and washi tape.

    Now that you have your notebook, the next step is to number each of the individual pages in your bullet journal.

    Whatever feels comfortable at the beginning, go with it.

    4. Customize to Your Needs

    Be clear why you are using the bullet journal, and customize it to suit the outcomes you’re looking for.

    If you have specific things you want to keep in one place, e.g. a vision board or bucket list, you can carve out space by leaving blank pages for that.

    If you want to track specific habits, such as how many hours you’re sleeping per night or when you’re exercising, you can track that as well.

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    You can spend as much or as little as you want on the planner. You can keep it simple or be a bit more creative and use colored gel pens, highlighters, or washi tape to suit your style.

    5. Review Quarterly

    When I coach private clients, we always set 90-day goals and then review performance on an ongoing basis.

    One of the keys here is that the goal stays, but the path to achieving the goal can be fluid.

    The same is true of your bullet journal. Sit down every quarter and review what’s working—which parts do you love to do and which things aren’t going so well?

    Think about how you can expand the great and remove the bad to keep momentum and fascination with your bullet journal growing.

    6. Plan in Advance

    As with everything, planning in advance will save you time in the long run and will reduce the chance of overwhelm, especially when you are starting out.

    Plan your weekly or daily spreads in advance (I personally do my weekly journal on Sunday night). You will then have a clear picture of your upcoming week but still have time to add things in later.

    7. Set up Your Layouts

    There are two main layouts that almost everyone will use.

    These are the monthly spreads, which give you a clear overview of the month ahead. This is often a calendar style with each day in big blocks next to each other. You may, as you progress, choose to doodle and color-theme these months.

    The next one is the weekly spread, where you lay out your week, typically on two pages, and complete as you would a diary.

    You may be more comfortable with horizontal layouts, but it can be fun to experiment with a vertical listing of each day of the month.

    The key thing is what you are recording. Focus on substance over style[3].

    8. Try New Things (and Stop What Doesn’t Work)

    You may start out using the traditional Ryder Carroll method or follow a method being used by one of your friends at the beginning.

    The key here is to find your own style, one that works for you. If things aren’t clicking, then stop and find something that does.

    This may become a mix of traditional planning mixed with more creative collections and trackers.

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    9. Start with One Collection

    The bullet journal, at its core, is a productivity system, so it’s essential to begin future planning and life management with monthly spreads, weekly spreads, habit trackers, and dailies.

    It is also a place to house your big ideas, a place for self-discovery and self-awareness, and a home for your dreams and goals.

    A collection is simply a gathering together of things that are important to you under a simple heading.

    This could be a bucket list of places to visit, a gratitude log, a list of books to read or podcasts to listen to, inspirational quotes, an exercise regime, or goals and dreams.

    Start with one. Have fun with it and go from there.

    10. Create a Habit Tracker

    Having a habit tracker forces you to be honest with yourself and can inspire you to reach specific goals you may have.

    Many of those who use a bullet journal credit tracking with helping to improve their mental and physical wellbeing.

    How to bullet journal to improve habits

      You can track whatever is important to you right now. On a spread, list out all the habits you want to track on the left hand side.

      This could be related to sleep, exercise, running, blogging, meditation, journaling, etc.

      At the top, list all of the days in the month 1-31. Then, for each individual day, against each habit, color in whether you “completed” that habit.

      At the end of the month, you can see how you are tracking against the habits you wanted to improve. If you have missed a few, look at ways that can improve next month.

      11. Create a Habit

      To ensure that the excitement of starting your bullet journal doesn’t wear off after a week or so, commit to working on your journal for a specific amount of time every day.

      If tasks that you’ve entered haven’t been marked as complete or your collections aren’t updated regularly, you’ll get bored quickly.

      It’s also important to set your weekly pages up in advance so you are ahead of the curve.

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      If you develop a daily habit and enjoy the experience of updating your bullet journal, you will develop your own personal rhythm that will help you organize your time more effectively.

      12. Don’t Compare

      Instagram and Pinterest are full of amazing images of other people’s journals, so it’s important to remember that your journal is unique to you.

      You will develop your own style along the way, so don’t compare yourself to others. Motivation may drop and you may begin to try to copy the style of others.

      The important thing to refer back to is why you wanted a bullet journal in the first place. If the aim is to be able to plan more effectively, then that’s all that matters if it works for you.

      Seeing other planners and procrastinating will stop you from simply just getting started.

      If you’re in the habit of comparing yourself to others, this article can help you break that habit.

      13. Don’t Overdo It

      Start small and build from there. Ease into using your bullet journal and get to know what works for you.

      Overloading yourself at the beginning with lots of collections, daily trackers, and fully illustrated vision boards may lead you to abandon the bullet journal completely.

      14. Give It Time (and Don’t Be a Perfectionist)

      If you’re not used to using a planner or a journal, give yourself a good month to really get into it.

      Don’t stress about your artistic abilities. It should be functional over beautiful every time.

      If you’re worried about making mistakes at the beginning, you can simply use a pencil or an erasable pen.

      15. Include Fun Stuff as Well

      To keep motivated and inspired, use the bullet journal holistically to cover both work and home life.

      Including things like memories, motivations, goals, exercise, gratitude, and dreams will balance out the daily, weekly and monthly work plans.

      One of the great things about the bullet journal is that it should encompass your whole life and give you important events and achievements to look back on.

      More About Journaling

      Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Bullet Journal: Monthly Log
      [2] Bullet Journal: The Analog Method for the Digital Age
      [3] Develop Good Habits: 132 Bullet Journal Layout Ideas & Images to Inspire You

      More by this author

      Mark Pettit

      Mark Pettit is a Business Coach for ambitious entrepreneurs and business owners who want to achieve more by working less.

      How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week How to Bullet Journal to Skyrocket Your Productivity 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life The 5 Most Important Things in Life You’ll Regret Not Pursuing 8 Time Management Strategies for Busy People

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      Last Updated on September 24, 2020

      17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

      17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

      In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

      The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

      Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

      1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

      Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

      For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

      2. Use the Pareto Principle

      Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

      Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

      3. Make Stakes

      Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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      However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

      4. Record Yourself

      Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

      5. Join a Group

      There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

      6. Time Travel

      Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

      Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

      7. Be a Chameleon

      When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

      Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

      “Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

      Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

      8. Focus

      Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

      Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

      9. Visualize

      The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

      Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

      Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

      10. Find a Mentor

      Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

      Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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      If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

      11. Sleep on It

      Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

      Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

      12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

      Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

      His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

      Check out his video to find out more:

      13. Learn by Doing

      It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

      Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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      14. Complete Short Sprints

      Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

      One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

      15. Ditch the Distractions

      Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

      Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

      16. Use Nootropics

      Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

      Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

      Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

      17. Celebrate

      For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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      The Bottom Line

      Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

      More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

      Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

      Reference

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