Posted in Techniques

Using Bullet Journaling to help my elderly mother

It’s amazing how some people can take to a solution like it’s second nature. This has proven to be my mother when it comes to using Bullet Journaling as part of her daily routine.  

Episode 32 of Being Productive is all about the motivation and application of Bullet Journaling to help her take a firmer control of her life and give her much needed confidence. 

Episode 32 – Bullet Journaling for the elderly

Posted in Coaching

What to do when your paper journal disappears

There is a recognition in the analog journaling community that the physical nature of the journal can be a single point of failure when it comes to the information you keep. For some, the chances of losing their journal are slim, for others, much more likely. Personally I have found my challenge comes not only from not having a specific journal with me at a given time but also the frequency at which I prefer to change notebooks (yes, I am a stationery geek.)

Recently I asked the Bullet Journal for Professionals group on Facebook what people would do if they no longer had their analog journal through either loss, destruction or theft. There were a range of responses demonstrating the critical nature of these journals for daily productivity:

1. cry

2. cry some more

3. sit down with a piece of paper and write down every to do that i can think of that wasn’t completed

4. Curl up into a ball in the corner and sob uncontrollably.”

5. Go to the pub!

What is most interesting is even with these responses of distress, almost everyone had a plan for backing up their journals digitally, by either re-entering information into digital systems or, the most popular way, through digital images of the pages for storage and retrieval.

If you decide you are going to live the analog life when it comes to journaling, I highly recommend you find a method of archiving and backing up your paper that works for you.  Whether it’s digital images, scanning, or just copying things down somewhere else, having a Plan B for your information is the only way you can truly have confidence in your system.

When it comes to a technical method of backing things up I use two different tools: my phone and my printer. I can never be sure when I will have time to capture the contents of a notebook so by using my phone to capture scans to Google Drive (my storage system of choice) I can feel more confident things are there should the worst case happen.  My printer comes into play because when I purchased my printer I specifically bought one that allows scanning directly to Google Drive (see the plan coming together?) With the printer on hand, I can scan page after page of journal and other documents to my library with no risk coming from the loss of the physical materials.

There are many different ways to back up your analog journal.  It isn’t nearly as important how you do it as it is that you do it at all.  Don’t be the person crying in corner of the pub because the dog ate your journal. Be prepared.

Posted in Uncategorized

What to do when your paper journal disappears

There is a recognition in the analog journaling community that the physical nature of the journal can be a single point of failure when it comes to the information you keep. For some, the chances of losing their journal are slim, for others, much more likely. Personally I have found my challenge comes not only from not having a specific journal with me at a given time but also the frequency at which I prefer to change notebooks (yes, I am a stationery geek.)
Recently I asked the Bullet Journal for Professionals group on Facebook what people would do if they no longer had their analog journal through either loss, destruction or theft. There were a range of responses demonstrating the critical nature of these journals for daily productivity:

“1. cry
2. cry some more
3. sit down with a piece of paper and write down every to do that i can think of that wasn’t completed”

“Curl up into a ball in the corner and sob uncontrollably.”

“Go to the pub!”


What is most interesting is even with these responses of distress, almost everyone had a plan for backing up their journals digitally, by either re-entering information into digital systems or, the most popular way, through digital images of the pages for storage and retrieval.

If you decide you are going to live the analog life when it comes to journaling, I highly recommend you find a method of archiving and backing up your paper that works for you.  Whether it’s digital images, scanning, or just copying things down somewhere else, having a Plan B for your information is the only way you can truly have confidence in your system.

When it comes to a technical method of backing things up I use two different tools: my phone and my printer. I can never be sure when I will have time to capture the contents of a notebook so by using my phone to capture scans to Google Drive (my storage system of choice) I can feel more confident things are there should the worst case happen.  My printer comes into play because when I purchased my printer I specifically bought one that allows scanning directly to Google Drive (see the plan coming together?) With the printer on hand, I can scan page after page of journal and other documents to my library with no risk coming from the loss of the physical materials.

There are many different ways to back up your analog journal.  It isn’t nearly as important how you do it as it is that you do it at all.  Don’t be the person crying in corner of the pub because the dog ate your journal. Be prepared.

Posted in Techniques

Using Google Docs for Bullet Journaling

In continuation of my experiment to see what common tools can be used for productive journaling, I’m trying the combination of Google Docs and Bullet Journaling. Now this far from a pure implementation of the Bullet Journal, but it does carry forward some of the basic requirements needed to be able to capture, process, and report information.

To begin, I wanted to see how easy the capture process would be. Since Google Docs is a cloud based service, access should be an easy matter and for the most part it is. Where the challenge comes in is in situations where artificial constraints on accessing Google Docs have been imposed, such as in many companies that block access to the platform. If you are in an environment that limits your access to Google Docs, understand that this may not be an option for you.

Read more…

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Using Google Docs for Bullet Journaling

In continuation of my experiment to see what common tools can be used for productive journaling, I’m trying the combination of Google Docs and Bullet Journaling. Now this far from a pure implementation of the Bullet Journal, but it does carry forward some of the basic requirements needed to be able to capture, process, and report information.

To begin, I wanted to see how easy the capture process would be. Since Google Docs is a cloud based service, access should be an easy matter and for the most part it is. Where the challenge comes in is in situations where artificial constraints on accessing Google Docs have been imposed, such as in many companies that block access to the platform. If you are in an environment that limits your access to Google Docs, understand that this may not be an option for you.

Turning on Outline View

As part of the initial capture of information into the journal, I needed a way to easily group the information into Collections and topics and then navigate between them. This is easily done with Headers (which I will elaborate on later) but first turning on Outline View in Google Docs was the easiest way to keep track of collections and navigate as the document grew longer. Go to View > Outline to enable the Outline View on the left side of the page. It starts off empty since we haven’t added any headers, a key requirement of Outlines, but that changes quickly.

Creating collections and sections

Using the Headers feature in Google Docs is the easiest way to create collections in your journal. First, enter the title of the collection and then press *Ctrl-Alt-1* to turn the text into a header. You’ll immediately see the style and size of the text change and the text will appear in the Outline View we enabled earlier. Each collection should receive a header for easy navigation and identification. I also recommend adding a header for your Daily Notes collection as well as your Weekly / Monthly Notes collections.

Adding Sections in a Collection

Sometimes you’ll have smaller divisions within a Collection, for example if you’re planning a trip you may have a Collection for the entire trip and then Sections for Places to Visit, Things to Pack, Airline Information and so on. To capture this information in your structure, just enter a title for the section and then press *Ctrl-Alt-2*. This creates a second level header in the document which shows up as indented in the Outline View. You can also do a third level header if you need to drill down to even more detail.

Ending a Collection or Section

I recommend pressing Ctrl-Enter at the end of a collection or section to insert a page break at the bottom. This will push new Collections onto a new page and make it easier to print the content later. You can always expand the size of a collection or section by adding content and carriage returns before the page break.

Capturing Tasks

Tasks are a critical piece of information to be managed so I used the same technique I have used in other tools to see if it carried over in Google Docs. By placing a double square bracket [] at the beginning of a line I designate that is a task that needs to be addressed. It’s a quick capture of the item being a task and allows me to find the item easily as well as update its status for tracking.

Locating an item

Ctrl-F opens the Find drop down allowing you to search for content as well as markers you have placed in your entries. If you search for the double square bracket [] you can find all the incomplete items in your journal and step through them. It also provides a quick way to locate content within your journal and additional markers you may have created to identify other types of content.

Linking to Collections

A common use case I wanted to test was capturing notations in my Daily Journal about work I am doing on a specific project. Rather than capturing detailed information in the Daily Journal, I added a link to the collection from the journal by pressing Ctrl-K and selecting the heading for the collection from the list. Now I can tell not only the days I worked on specific topics but also have quick access to the details just by clicking the link.

Additional Features

There are a number of additional features that can be applied both in the web and mobile versions of Google Docs. I’ll go into those in detail in a future article, but for now I’d say that Google Docs is a viable tool for tracking your productivity journal.

Posted in Techniques

Building a Bullet Journal using Microsoft Word

When working on putting together a productivity solution we often go looking for a preconstructed application that does everything. Well, we go looking…we don’t often succeed. With that in mind, I decided it was worth trying to use one of the most common tools in our arsenal, Microsoft Word, to implement a version of the Bullet Journal system.

As usual, I placed some strict requirements on my solution:

  • The implementation had to work on the desktop as well as the web version of Microsoft Word

  • It had to allow for tracking tasks as well as general notes

  • It had to support collections

  • It needed to be able to be set up on the fly (no pre-downloaded templates required)

  • It had to be simple enough for anyone to implement

Based on those requirements, I was able to create a very serviceable version of the Bullet Journal methodology using Word.

Step 1 – A blank page

There aren’t any special features that need to be enabled in Word for this implementation, but you do need to turn on the Navigation Pane view. This can be done from View > Navigation Pane. The Navigation Pane creates a dynamic table of contents based on the use of the header styles in Word. We’ll talk more about header styles in a bit.

Step 2 – Create a Heading

For my first heading, I added a Section for Daily Notes for today. Nothing fancy here…just type it in. The trick is once you’re done keying, press Ctrl-Alt-1 on your keyboard (sorry Mac users, I don’t know what your keyboard shortcut is so you may have to use the ribbon bar to apply the Header 1 style). Ctrl-Alt-1 applies the Heading 1 style to the text. 

The visual style changes making it easy to call out on the page AND the line now shows up in the Navigation View. Skipping one line I pressed Ctrl-Enter to insert a page break and I was done my first section.

Step 3 – Create a Collection

Since I have a number of projects in flight it made sense to add a Collection for the project information. After the page break I added in step 2 I entered a title for the collection and applied the Heading 1 style again. Next, I started to add some of my notes for the project.

Step 4 – Dealing with Tasks

Some of the notes I captured were actual tasks so I needed a way to not only identify them as such but also be able to mark when they were completed as well as find them in the journal. The simple solution was to begin each task with a [] (double square bracket). This way they were easy to pick out visually on the page. You can see from the image below what this wound up looking like.

Putting it to use

Now that the basic structure was in place, could start using the Navigation Pane to move from section to section in the document by just clicking on the title in the Navigation Pane.

TIP – This part works even better on the desktop in Print View because Word scrolls right to the Header making each section look and act as truly separate pages.

Where this started to come into its own is when I used the search box in the Navigation Pane to locate all the tasks in the document by searching for “[]”. You can see what happens below:

The search term not only finds the items in the document, but Word highlights them AND shows them specifically in the Navigation Pane making access to the tasks quick and easy.

This is just the beginning of a Bullet Journal style implementation in Word. I’m going to keep working with this to refine and add features but you can see within a few minutes you can be up and running with your own Word Journal.

Posted in Uncategorized

Building a Bullet Journal using Microsoft Word


When working on putting together a productivity solution we often go looking for a preconstructed application that does everything. Well, we go looking…we don’t often succeed. With that in mind, I decided it was worth trying to use one of the most common tools in our arsenal, Microsoft Word, to implement a version of the Bullet Journal system.

As usual, I placed some strict requirements on my solution:

  • The implementation had to work on the desktop as well as the web version of Microsoft Word
  • It had to allow for tracking tasks as well as general notes
  • It had to support collections
  • It needed to be able to be set up on the fly (no pre-downloaded templates required)
  • It had to be simple enough for anyone to implement

Based on those requirements, I was able to create a very serviceable version of the Bullet Journal methodology using Word.

Step 1 – A blank page
There aren’t any special features that need to be enabled in Word for this implementation, but you do need to turn on the Navigation Pane view. This can be done from View > Navigation Pane. The Navigation Pane creates a dynamic table of contents based on the use of the header styles in Word. We’ll talk more about header styles in a bit.
Step 2 – Create a Heading
For my first heading, I added a Section for Daily Notes for today. Nothing fancy here…just type it in. The trick is once you’re done keying, press Ctrl-Alt-1 on your keyboard (sorry Mac users, I don’t know what your keyboard shortcut is so you may have to use the ribbon bar to apply the Header 1 style). Ctrl-Alt-1 applies the Heading 1 style to the text. 
The visual style changes making it easy to call out on the page AND the line now shows up in the Navigation View. Skipping one line I pressed Ctrl-Enter to insert a page break and I was done my first section.
Step 3 – Create a Collection
Since I have a number of projects in flight it made sense to add a Collection for the project information. After the page break I added in step 2 I entered a title for the collection and applied the Heading 1 style again. Next, I started to add some of my notes for the project.
Step 4 – Dealing with Tasks
Some of the notes I captured were actual tasks so I needed a way to not only identify them as such but also be able to mark when they were completed as well as find them in the journal. The simple solution was to begin each task with a [] (double square bracket). This way they were easy to pick out visually on the page. You can see from the image below what this wound up looking like.

Putting it to use

Now that the basic structure was in place, could start using the Navigation Pane to move from section to section in the document by just clicking on the title in the Navigation Pane.

TIP – This part works even better on the desktop in Print View because Word scrolls right to the Header making each section look and act as truly separate pages.

Where this started to come into its own is when I used the search box in the Navigation Pane to locate all the tasks in the document by searching for “[]”. You can see what happens below:

The search term not only finds the items in the document, but Word highlights them AND shows them specifically in the Navigation Pane making access to the tasks quick and easy.

This is just the beginning of a Bullet Journal style implementation in Word. I’m going to keep working with this to refine and add features but you can see within a few minutes you can be up and running with your own Word Journal.