Less is More (Bullet Journal + Things)

I’ve settled into my new hybrid system of using a Bullet Journal alongside the Things task manager. My morning routine is to open the Bullet Journal and first look at the monthly log for any tasks I might want to do from there. Then I go to the daily log and see if anything was left over from the day before and decide if it is worth copying into today. I finally open my Things Anytime list and pick 2 or 3 tasks to put into my daily log. I will then work from the bullet journal until these tasks are complete. Once they are, I’ll open the Anytime list again and do tasks from there. Sometimes I only finish the 3 tasks I chose in the morning and I’m perfectly happy with that.

I will still use the Things inbox to capture tasks throughout the day. But in my weekly review (which I do on Friday), I’m relentless about paring down my task list. I make sure I only have a few personal projects and a few work projects active at any one time. If I don’t think I will work on something in the next week, I move it to Someday. If it has been hanging around for weeks or months, I’ll just delete it.

I find this hybrid system is working better than a pure digital system which I was using before. I no longer feel like I have an endless task list that only grows. Physically writing the tasks by hand each morning forces me to think about what is really important. I also have the Things inbox to capture random thoughts, that will then have to pass this more rigorous filter before it gets done.

I don’t know if I’m actually getting more done, but it feels like I’m doing more of the important work and less of the trivial tasks that can easily fill up my digital system.

Another cool thing the Bullet Journal has helped me do, is I’ll write quick notes in the daily log throughout the day and then in the evening, I will sit down for 10-15 minutes and turn this into a fuller diary entry in Day One. I will also pick one thing to highlight from the day in the Monthly Log of the Bullet Journal. It is fun to look back over the last 2 months and see these highlights of my life.

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I have found a hybrid digital + analog system to be effective for me as well. I use a combination of a full focus planner and things. I capture in things but work out of the planner in the day to day.

Interesting, this has actually been my workflow for the past week, aside from using things for capture. I use the bullet journal for capturing most thoughts, although now you have me wondering if I should use things, lol. I also have been taking some of the daily prompts from Day One and writing them out in my bullet journal and scanning in to the appropriate entries just for a digital log of sorts.

I switched to noteplan about 6 weeks back and use it like a bullet journal, been working well for me so far.

Previously used Omni which I found overkill and then things which was too simplified and I couldn’t adapt to.

The linking of notes etc is the best feature for me. Like to free format things but hate carrying a notepad, I have this mental block that my iPad is meant to stop that.

Equally I agree with the above, noting things down helps me to map the day out and not miss things.

Yes, I’m looking at noteplan 3 as well currently, I have access to the beta. Especially interested in how @ryanjamurphy uses it with Obsidian. Check out his most recent post on it!

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Love it! I’m a big fan of the hybrid system as well. Analog is more inefficient, but it more than makes up for it with intention setting and focus.

Thanks for sharing this! If anyone else is using a hybrid system, I’d love to hear details of how you’re doing it.

My handwriting had gotten so bad because I was just typing most of the time. I learned to slow down and think about writing neatly. My handwriting has gotten much better, but this conscious slowing down is also helping me think about what I’m doing more deeply.

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I’m BuJo + OF3 myself. Frankly, I don’t think a non-hybrid system would work for me ever.

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Are you just capturing via OF3 and using the journal for a list of what you need to get done that day? Can you elaborate a little further? The hybrid systems always intrigue me.

Me too. I’m intrigued but do not know how people manage routine / repeating tasks in Analog for example.

I went paperless years ago–I really use no paper–it can be a little embarrassing at times when people come into my office because they may wonder if I have anything to do! It works wonderfully for me. I’m able to plan, view, and do from the micro-level to 30,000’. For ME, analog + digital would be unnecessarily redundant. :crossed_fingers: So far I don’t have a habit of dropping balls or failing to focus on the strategic. I like the look and feel of fine paper and pens but as far as actually getting my work done, digital is serving me well. This was taken as I wrote this, I made no changes to my desk.

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OF3 + paper (Leuchtturm 1917 Softcover B5 dotted) works pretty well for me. OF is where I capture, clarify, organize and check off all my tasks. My journal is a place to take daily meeting notes. Each morning I review yesterday’s notes (any tasks captured go into OF), write down my schedule (writing helps to remember/internalize), and my 3-5 most important tasks for the day.

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I see an iPad on that desk :blush: That’s where it started for me - I was planning my day using my Apple Pencil in GoodNotes. Eventually that became a fancy notebook and expensive pens.

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I’ve tried going all digital for a long time but it never clicked for me.

I use OmniFocus as my second brain to remember all my projects and tasks. Then I use my BuJo for my daily driver.

I look at OmniFocus and pick a Big Rock project to work on for tomorrow. Then I choose 2-3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) for tomorrow. I write them into tomorrow’s page. When tomorrow comes, I look at my pre-planned MITs and Big Rock. I work on them when I find some nice time blocks throughout the day. I work in retail so I do have busy hours and quiet hours. I’ll work on the MITs or Big Rock during the quiet hours.

I never look at my digital task manager. I risk getting sucked in and looking at all my pretty projects and will tinker endlessly.

My iPhone or Mac hides task manager. My BuJo is laid open on top of my work desk and the only things I see on the daily page are any appointments or events, the Big Rock, and the MITs. There’s something about seeing those in the physical world on my desk that motivates me to work on them. Having them hidden in the digital ether in my app doesn’t feel tangible. I wanted to hide my task manager so that I can do the actual work and not stare at an endless task list.

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For whatever reason neither my task manager (nor email) suck me in. I don’t find either of them particularly enticing. :slight_smile:

I do much of what you describe but digitally. The simple version is that I conduct daily and weekly reviews. I block my primary projects/tasks on my calendar, close email and my task manager, and get to work. Because my EAA manages my work calendar, I have generic blocks on the work calendar but then I add my to-do’s on my personal calendar [yellow], see example below. That way I see the specifics but all she sees is a block of time in which she cannot schedule meetings. On a monthly basis I’ll go through a 30,000’ exercise (review of Big Rock Life Goals, e.g., complete book) and when appropriate I add discreet projects/tasks to my task manager and then proceed with the daily and weekly reviews. My digital analog is Apple Notes where I’ll quickly capture thoughts, ideas, a phone number, etc., using the Apple Pencil and if needed transfer that information to my calendar or task manager. This gives me the benefits of a digital workflow along with the benefits of an “analog” system.

All of us are different of course but this digital approach has worked for years for me. As I said previously, I like the look and feel of paper and pen but I find the redundant writing and transfer of information to be unnecessarily time consuming.

That’s the whole idea! If I don’t want to transfer the unfinished task to the next day, I would finish them. If I planned to finish 5 tasks but i finish 1 tree ask then I know I over planned. I only choose 3 MITs or 1 Big Rock project each day because I expect daily interruptions to keep me busy throughout the day. The act of rewriting one task takes all of 2 seconds so it’s not time consuming. The negative reinforcement does encourage me to avoid over planning.

Another way to avoid rewriting is to just cross of finished tasks and add a new task to the end of the list. If I have an unfinished task, it stays on the page until I cross it off. I might still see if it on the same page tomorrow. If it’s still on my page, I’ll need to reconsider if it’s worth doing and either delete it, defer it to another day/week, or delegate it.

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I understand the rationale and for many it makes perfect sense. I’ve found that my consistent weekly review ensures that tasks that don’t need to be done do not show up during the following week (I do my weekly review on Friday mornings). I am also careful not to assign too many tasks in a given week. I’ve also learned not to assign due dates unless there is a significant consequence for not meeting that deadline. I block my calendar for major project/task work from 6:30am-9:30am for focused work. I’ll occasionally add additional blocks if needed but generally, from 9:30am through 7:30pm is reserved for meetings, calls, events, interruptions, etc. Using this system, any tasks not completed during the assigned day roll over to the next day automatically in my task manager. If they linger several days my weekly review will catch this and I’ll re-evaluate at that time. In short, I have not personally, obviously I’m not speaking for anyone else, found myself over planning or scheduling.

I committed years ago to work paperlessly and have learned to make it work well for my needs. For me, a bullet journal would not be helpful to my productivity; it would only add an unnecessary layer to my workflow. :slight_smile:

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