Visuals: When A Planner List Is Not Enough | Giftie Etcetera: Visuals: When A Planner List Is Not Enough

Monday, February 10, 2014

Visuals: When A Planner List Is Not Enough

Have you heard of bullet journaling? Basically, it's a way to use your planner where you list everything you need to do or know and use little codes to show whether the item is a task ( [] ), an appointment ( O ), or an FYI ( * ). For example, you might write:

O 9 a.m. Doctor's appointment

[] Defrost chicken
[] Write Nelson report
O 2 p.m. meeting
* Husband working late
*Thinking of ear plugs
[] Buy birthday gift
O Dinner with the girls tonight

Some people are raving about the system. Good for them! I love it when someone finds a system that works for her.

But for me? FAIL. MAJOR FAIL. I can't even make sense of that list in my mind, and I typed it!

I rely on visual cues more than I would generally like to admit.

Take my planner page.

Once I cross out the past days, my eyes automatically focus on Sunday's entry. That entry has three columns. My eyes focus on the left and most important column first.

I use visuals in other parts of my life, too.

I put my morning meds next to my alarm clock, so I remember to take them.

I put my coffee cup in front of my coffee pot, so that I remember to heat up the milk.

I put a stack of tasks - labeling Valentine's card, a hand-drawn picture to share on Facebook, winter gear needing storage, and my grocery list to make today - in the main part of my desk.

This stuff is not clutter. I can't stand anything on my desk, so I will deal with it today, since I see it. The visual cue works for me, in a way that a list does not.

I love lists. Lists are very useful. But you must work a list, and I don't always have time for that!



Christine Cortese said...

I think your Dashboard is a kind of short term bullet journal. You may not use those particular symbols to mark information, but it's an unstructured page to capture the same kind of information.

yezenia said...

Bullet journaling is cool in theory but I think I'd spend more time combing through the lists. I am puzzled when people say they bullet journal when they've just adopted the symbols but they still have sections for items, then it's really just a small list. The way I understand bullet journaling is saving space on a page by noting EVERYTHING in long list form with the symbols to give each item meaning. I think I'd be overwhelmed using it as the creator does. But certainly elements of it are useful.

Giftie Etcetera said...

Christine - my context codes are kind of like bullet journaling, too. It's useful, just too much for me if that's all someone uses.

Bree said...

I've watched the Bullet Journal video and it looks awesome, but I'm 95% certain that it wouldn't work for me either. That passes my "don't even try it" test, although that 5% possibility makes think about trying it anyway....

But that's probably just Planner Delusion kicking in.

SF said...

Bullet Journaling works for me at Work. But not in my personal life. Work is much more structured, my personal life...not so much. That's where I need my Filofax to keep soome sembance of order.

Jessica Lindahl said...

I LOVE BULLET JOURNALING! There I had to say it lol I have a very simple setup in my pocket Malden. I actually just hole punch 3x5 notecards to use as my paper and then I color code everything I need to write down. Any long term planning that I need to do I punch into my Google calendar and being a tech savvy 19 year old I use my Google calendar in perfect sync with my simple Filofax set up.

lifeofkitty said...

I loved the idea of bullet journalling, but tried and also failed. I was trying it in my filo inserts and I just realised that I preferred my colour coding instead!

Mari Adkins said...

I am the same way! I have ADHD and must have visual cues.

Anonymous said...

Jessica would you please tell me how you sync your Googie acct with your Filofax? I would love software that is set up to select Filofax paper size, put paper in printer, select contacts to be printed and...voilĂ ! I couldn't reply to you directly, my comments disappeared on main blog page. On this comment page there was no option for individual replies. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't thought about how I plan and document my days at work vs. personal prior to this post, but realize that the Bullet Journaling works well for me at work because I am expected to respond quickly to calls, emails, drop ins, etc. It is necessary to maintain good records of all events. In my personal life, I don't need to record all events and prefer to plan and document by task.

Gail B

Filohacks said...

I applaud the fact that it didn't work for you - it shows you are living in the now.

Respect to people who like bulleting and lists. My other half does and she's cool.

Personally I don't like lists much because they don't give me any sense of the effort or commitment involved, even with symbols next to them. An appointment could be a 3 hour presentation to 1000 bored and argumentative colleagues or it could be to collect a new pass from security at a certain time. Similarly a task could be to calculate and fill out tax return or it could be to write my wife a valentines day card.

I much prefer to visualise things in terms of planned approach + time + outcome (going to make them laugh, going to tell 5 stories, show 2 videos and get them answering questions for 3 HOURS and I am going to get them to buy into what I'm saying) That isn't a task or even a set of tasks it's 3 hour journey, and one I have got to enjoy and make the most of or I am going to absolutely DIE on stage. :-)

I say: Life's for living - not for bullet points! :-)