Productivity systems run the risk of becoming projects unto themselves. Rather than supporting your life, maintaining the system becomes a goal. Instead of reducing work, it adds to it. I went through this with Franklin Covey, Trello, Evernote, 43 Folders, you name it. The time and energy lost to upkeep defeated the purpose of the tool.
It’s possible that my success with the bullet journal method stems from what I’ve learned with other systems. It’s actually on my (unpublished) bujo magna carta — excess upkeep is a deal breaker. The bullet journal method is simple and straightforward, though. It’s fast and efficient.
I know that people turn it into an arts and crafts project. There are tons of “plan with me” videos on YouTube where devoted journalers share their themes and illustrations and decorative ideas. There’s nothing wrong with that. I want people to know that’s optional. While I do have a collection of markers, gel pens, and washi tape, it’s to color-code things. Because I make extensive use of threading, it’s easier to find things of every project and category of task has a color scheme. Form follows function. It’s not there to be pretty.
The less I have to touch my bullet journal, the better it works for me. Today, for example, I’m writing all day. There’s nothing to document. I opened it once in the morning, to see if there was anything I was forgetting. Katie told me about an appointment, so I cracked the journal open and made note of that. Tonight I might make a note of what I worked on today. If there were any project problems or epiphanies, I’ll write about those. Otherwise, it can sit there until I need it.