Journal Thrive

New Year, New Bullet Journal

For the first time ever, I’m beginning a journal on 1 January. I’ve always started a new book when the old one was filled up, no matter what the date was. I could probably cram another month into my current journal, but it’s close enough that I don’t feel guilty about wasting blank pages. So it’s new year, new bullet journal.

This seemed like an opportunity to review and refresh some of my practices, too. I went through all of my old journals, both those using the bullet journal method and pre-bujo, to see what works for me and what doesn’t. I spent some time reading posts by bujo bloggers, watching YouTube videos, and even going back to Ryder Carroll’s original descriptions of the method.

My biggest epiphany is that I haven’t been getting full value out of rapid logging. For those not in the know, it’s basically a note-taking methodology where you summarize ideas in a line and assign a symbol or key to it. Then you can review your notes later and sort things out. Years ago I did the Franklin Covey method, which had a similar key, but it didn’t really work for me. I think old associations kept me from embracing the potential of rapid logging.

Rapid Logging Fail

What I had been doing was keeping separate collections (reference pages) for different topics. Rather than writing things on a daily log and sorting it later, I’d flip to the page where I was keeping notes on that topic. It felt like less work, but it wasn’t. It got confusing.

For example, I have a page in my planner for today’s log. I realize that I need to create a graphic for an upcoming project. What I used to do would be to flip to the page I had set up for that project, and write it down there. Then when I worked on that project, I’d see the note and remember to do it. That process took my out of the flow of whatever I was doing in that moment. Rather than “write it down, deal with it later” my mind shifted to “what page is this project on?” and getting sidetracked.

The correct way to rapid log is to turn to the journal, and open to today’s page. Then write down that I need to make the graphic. Add the symbol I’ve assigned to that project, and go back to what I was doing. When I go to work on that project, I skim my notes for the past several days looking for that symbol, and migrate the note to the project page then. Alternately, at least once week I go through the daily entries looking for “open loops” and copy items over to where they belong.

New Year, New Bullet Journal

I cannot express what a revelation this was to me when it clicked. It’s helped me to keep focus while still capturing information. Rapid logging has killed another set of distractions for me. It’s amazing to me that bullet journaling is so simple, but still manages to have so much utility and depth.

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