A few months ago, I bought myself a little notebook and declared it a bullet journal. I used it for a few weeks – a month, I think. Guess what?
I’m back to digital.
Other people’s bullet journals are pretty. Mine did not ever look like any of those. Mine was boring and frankly, kind of a pain to set up each week. On Sundays I would sit down to write it out for the next week, using these sections:
- A weekly calendar and some priority to-do lists each week.
- A section to keep track of my reading, where I could mark off chapters in my current books (like Sara does). (Mine didn’t look as colorful as hers does.)
- A box to track habits I am trying to form. That was kind of helpful. Checking boxes is motivating for me.
After trying it for several weeks, I had to admit that it was just too awkward to carry around all the time. If I’m using a notebook as a place to dump my brain, I need to have it with me all the time. It has to be there anytime I want to jot down an idea or add to the grocery list.
And as much as I hate to admit this reliance, my phone is already with me all the time.
So the bullet journal and I have parted ways. I’m glad I tried it, happy I didn’t spend much on it, and content with the new systems I have in place.
In case you’re looking for some productivity apps, I’ll tell you what I’m using now:
- Google Calendar for, well duh, the calendar. I’ve used it for years, so copying a calendar down in the bullet journal felt redundant to me anyway. I love the reminder feature, especially for recurring reminders. For example, I have one set for Wednesday evenings to remind us to take the trash to the curb.
- Google Keep for All the Lists. Grocery list, to-do list, school ideas, book lists, errand list, really anything I might want to remember. It’s like having a bunch of sticky notes in one place. I love that it’s on my phone, on my laptop, anywhere I go online. Always accessible.
I had been using Evernote for some of those things, after reading Mystie’s Paperless Home Organization book a couple of years ago. But I find Keep is easier for short, current lists. Evernote seems to be better for long term storage.
- Goal Tracker to track all the habits I’m trying to establish. I’ve got 12 habits on there right now! (I know, that’s too many. I’m ambitious.) In the past I’ve tried to tie habits to my to-do lists by making them recurring tasks, which never worked the way I wanted it to. This is just what I wanted – very simple and straightforward. I use the week view and check the box as I do each thing. It makes me feel happy and successful.
In this view I can see how many days I’ve accomplished my goal out of the number of days I’ve been tracking it, as well as the percentage. Did I mention how much I love checking boxes?
With those three apps, I can keep track of my life. Since I’ve never been artsy or particularly inclined to creativity, these simple apps are better for me than a bullet journal. As much as I’d like to be counter-cultural and go old-school pen and paper, digital wins this time.