Confession Time – I can’t live without my BuJo

Last night a DJ BuJo saved my life. 

Excuse the dramatic title. 

I’ve picked a remarkable number of suggestions up from Buzzfeed articles. At one point they were almost a love language for me. Friends knew I was thinking about them if I’d whatsapped or DMed them a Buzzfeed article about Brummie accents or gluten-free problems. 

I now own 2 squatty potties and have a humidifier in the Stemettes office because of their infamous listicles – articles listing concepts, items to buy or incredible stories. Some of my favourite recipes and workouts have been discovered there too. 

Discovering the ‘BuJo’

But by far the biggest discovery on the platform has been the Bullet Journal aka ‘BuJo’. A ‘craze’ started a few years ago that has millions of dedicated Instagram accounts: it’s a to-do list-meets-planner-meets-diary in a physical notebook. For a flavour, check out the #bujo hashtag on Instagram.

My productivity journey has been one of continuous self-improvement. As my responsibilities grow I’m constantly trying to keep up with remembering important non-urgent things. I also want to keep track of the good habits I’m trying to build. As soon as I saw the powerful layouts and breadth of use cases, I knew I’d spotted something that might help me be a better version of myself. Over Christmas 2017 I read article after article about Bujo layouts, the bujo system and created a bujo collection on Instagram. 

I couldn’t promise the beautiful doodles, drawings and artistry, but had more than enough content to fill pages. Themes to come back to, brainstormed ideas and information that needn’t be stored solely in my head. I also had things I wanted to make sure I’d achieved before the year was out – a new accountant, better veganism, more cycling, an actual skincare routine. 

All of these things (and more) could fit into the very flexible bujo structure. 

 

So I ordered the notebook got some pens and got started. 

For someone who has been exclusively digital for a long time, it seemed counterintuitive having so much down on paper. My family, friends and colleagues initially laughed. Really hard. I also worried about what would happen when I inevitably mislaid the physical notebook. 

My life plan would be lost. Without a chance of recovering my notes from the cloud or a ruined hard drive. 

2 years later, I haven’t lost my notebook once. Although I did accidentally leave it overnight in the office one time. That was a long night. 

If you are wary of not having a backup then you currently have two options: 

  • An e-paper type piece of kit that automatically saves each page to the cloud, 
  • Being in the habit of periodically photographing/scanning bujo pages. 

I did the first until I lost the magic pen in the back of a cab (sorry to TeamStemette who gifted it to me). I now do the second.

When the notebook is finished, I scan it into Evernote and can search through the pages that have clear handwriting. Three notebooks in, there are some things that I’ve learnt.

> Future Log, Quarterly Wins, Monthly Log, Weekly Log, Daily Log.

Every time unit is represented in my Bujo.

Future Logs are 12 months worth of milestones, deadlines, events and birthdays. (The second image in the Instagram Post is my Future Log from the beginning of 2019). 

Quarterly Wins are done retrospectively in April, July, October and January. It’s a list of everything nice that has happened personally & professionally. 

Monthly Logs are a plan for the month, with some added extras which change depending on what’s going on in my life. Added extras include: team members taking long holidays, any international trips I’m going on, a special Lockdown Goals list.

My May 2020 month spread. Dates of big meetings go in on the right hand side of the dates box.

I went part-time at Stemettes in January, so I plot out which days are ‘Stemette’ days versus not on this spread. I also put the current number of followers I have on Twitter and Insta.

Weekly Logs are a plan for what needs to get done that week, what would be nice to do that week, how many meals I need to prep, any evening events and also include a Gratitude Log.

A Weekly Log from February. The x are ‘done’ tasks. The < are things I postponed doing and the • are tasks I didn’t do…

Daily Logs are my daily list of meetings, to-do list, things I need to pick up/buy and new things I learn.

> Collections

These are pages that I refer back to and track things with. The Collections I migrated from my last notebook were: 

  • Packing List
  • Recipes I want to try
  • Hair Appointments – I track when I visit the hairdresser, which one, what I have done and how much it cost. 
  • Instagram Tracker
  • Cities I’ve visited
  • Level 10 Goals
  • Work Wins
  • Grocery List
  • Gratitude Log
  • Instagram Tracker
  • (Habit Tracker)
  • Flat Maintenance: a list of things I really need to fix and sort for my flat…

> Meeting Notes

On the odd occasion, I’ll handwrite notes & actions from meetings I attend. It depends on my mood. I take 50% of notes on iCloud on my phone/laptop. These notes go into an “April ’20”-type note that has all the notes from that entire month in chronological order.

> Index

BuJos don’t work without this page. Monthly & Daily Logs don’t get listed in this (they’re already in chronological order). Everything else goes in, otherwise, I’d never find anything!

> Brainstorms

Sometimes it’s just nicer to brainstorm things by hand, on pen & paper. I have lots of brainstormed ideas and lists in my notebook – book ideas, new features for Stemette programmes, Quarterly themes for each member of TeamStemette, Suggestions for organisations I’m working with. 

The investment pays off

This system truly works for me. My fingers in many pies. A full personal and professional life. Moving house, registering a charity, my Supperclub, speaking gig briefing notes – they’re all being managed in this system. 

I’ve built my routine around it – Sunday afternoon is meal prep and just after that I take 5 mins to write and sketch the week ahead. Even if I’m not at home. On a work day, I begin with my BuJo, unless I’m travelling or on holiday. If I’m working on a weekend, I begin the session with my BuJo. There is a log of everything I’ve done, when I’ve done it and also how long I’ve put it off before I do it. That gives me the confidence to deny requests for things I know I won’t get round to doing. I prioritise with my BuJo. 

In the week before a new month, I check the #BuJo hashtag and simplify a nice-looking heading for my layout. Then I get my pens out and put down some intentions for the upcoming month. 

If I’m feeling helpless I’ll take a clean page and I’ll write down a list of everything I need to do. Getting it on paper (again) somehow helps. Or if I feel down, I’ll take a new page and write everything I have to be thankful for. I have a spare BuJo at home that I’ll put these in, to help keep my main BuJo’s structure. 

And on Lockdown, it remains a nice constant. Rather than how many meals I need to prep, I’m planning what meals I’ll be having. My desire to do much more Yoga, Pilates and Home Workouts have been noted and has become a reality. 

Have any questions on setting your own up? Hit me up on Twitter or LinkedIn. Would you appreciate a Q&A or Course on how I organise my life? Let me know and I might put one together…

Peace

Thanks to Fleur Brittain for featuring my BuJo and I in the national Sunday Times Style Magazine on Apr 26, 2020. That’s the image at the top of this post.

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