“A place for everything and everything in its place” are great words to live by to keep clutter at bay, but applying this concept to random thoughts, inspiration, ideas, doodles, to-dos, and goals is a whole other beast.
Evernote works great for meeting notes, to-do lists, and quickly sharing those items with others, but I’m often left with a sketchbook or stack of random papers that don’t have a place within my digital notebook. While scanning those is an option, it seems to be more of a hassle than it’s worth and just one more step in a process that eats into a productive workday. Plus it’s much more difficult to unplug if your notebook is digital – and unplugging is essential for creativity sometimes.
As for keeping a sketchbook, while the loose papers could be quickly filed away and there are plenty of pages to sketch out ideas, it lacks the organization to quickly find the piece of information needed.
I’ve gone through the years trying to find a solution that simplifies this problem but always ended up with papers that I need but do not want lying around. A few months ago I stumbled across the bullet journaling system developed by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer based in New York. It seemed like the solution I had been slowly moving toward but hadn’t quite perfected yet.
This system provides an organized way to keep track of to-dos, goals, long notes, short notes, lists, doodles, sketches, pieces of inspiration, and anything else I could possibly think of in a physical notebook. The process is simple: each day you write the date and then brain-dump all your to-dos, appointments, events, and notes for things to remember. All these items are organized by the types of bullets you choose to use.
● for a to-do
○ for an appointment or event
– for notes
x for completed items
> for items moved to another day
Under this bullet list I’ll add thumbnail sketches and inspiration or pick the next blank page and brainstorm and sketch to my heart’s content. To further organize the notebook, these entries are then logged into an index with a descriptive title and the page number.
So far, this system has worked great and provides me the flexibility to adjust and use my notebook in a variety of ways each day, whether I’m in conference-room meetings all day or quietly brainstorming in a cozy corner of the office.
For more detailed information and a helpful video on the bullet journal system, check out bulletjournal.com.