For a start, I’m fully aware that there are already 9,256,827 blog posts explaining how to meld together Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal Method and David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I’ve probably read some of them in the past. It seems like an easy connection to make. I didn’t seek any of them out before I wrote this, though. Rather than writing another how-to, I kind of want to woolgather about rereading Getting Things Done in the BuJo era.
For the sake of brevity, for the rest of this post I’ll annoyingly refer to Getting Things Done as GTD and the Bullet Journal Method as BJM.
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Philosophy vs Where the Rubber Hits the Road
When I’m looking at productivity systems, I’m always looking at two particular things. The first is the philosophy behind it. What problem are they solving for, and what’s the belief system behind their solution. Some people still have some disturbing and wrong-headed beliefs about human behavior. Productivity systems are like diets; one size never fits all. Forcing people into one methodology never accounts for all of the behavioral changes that will be required to conform to that one allegedly “simple” thing.
The other thing I look for is how the system works when the rubber hits the road. How does the system work? What does it require me to do? On a practical level, I need to see how complicated it feels to me. This is entirely subjective. If I don’t get it, I’m not going to be able to do it. Other people can tout how simple it is, but unless it clicks for you it’s worthless. This also means checking to see if it solves the problems I have. A system may be great for X, but if I’m solving for Y then it’s a bad fit.
Both BJM and GTD share the view that in order to deal with all of your stuff, you need to get it out of your head. Write it down so it doesn’t get lost. Then determine what’s actionable, what needs to be filed away, and what can get tossed in the bin.
What I Need
I reread GTD because I like the fast evaluation system. Look at something, categorize how to deal with it. I’m currently working on a fold-out cheat sheet for my 2021 bullet journal, just to remind myself of how well this process works.
Is it actionable? Yes or no. If no, trash it, add it to a “someday/maybe” list, or file it away for future reference. If yes, will it take less than 2 minutes to do? When the answer is yes, just do it and get it over with. If not, delegate it for someone else to do, or defer it to later. Which comes down to scheduling it, or putting it on a to-do list and handling it when you get around to it.
What I wondered was how well this lines up with standard BJM icons. If I rapid log throughout the day, when I sit down to review can assign existing icons that reflect GTD sorting functions? Will I need to add some icons, and which will I need?
The Shake Out
Here’s what the process looks like when I smash the GTD workflow diagram together with the BJM.
Is it actionable? If no: mark it complete, or add it to a collection. So we have an x for a completed task, a right arrow indicating it was moved to a collection, and a dash for a note. No new icons needed.
If yes: do it, schedule it, or add it to future/monthly log or collection to be scheduled at the appropriate time. We need a dot for a task, a left arrow indicating it was moved to a future/monthly log, a right arrow indicating it was move to a collection. No new icons needed.
I think if I were delegating things I might turn that into a collection. Tasks I’ve Delegated, with names and such so I could follow up. If I delegated a lot, I might add a spread for each employee, Then when I met with them I could follow up on the progress of all open loops. For an icon in the rapid log, I’d probably use the initials of the person I delegated the task to.
I think in my 2021 bullet journal I’m going to take a piece of cardstock and a piece of Washi tape and make a hinged foldout. I’m draw a flow chart that adapted the GTD workflows to BJM. That way it will be there for reference. Other than that, I think that BJM has effectively eaten GTD. It does everything that GTD espoused, but in a simpler, more steamlined manner.
Getting Things Done in the BuJo Era
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About Berin Kinsman
Berin Kinsman is a writer, simple living minimalist, and spoonie. By day he works as the owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.