Tailfish’s Bullet Journal Essentials

My Bullet Journal, paper & digitalBack in January I wrote Tailfish’s 7 Rules of Bullet Journaling, and Rule 7 was “You make the rules”.  I figured it was time that I showed you how I Bullet Journal, not only because it is awesome and works brilliantly for me, but because it shows that you can deviate from the “official rules” and still be happy with your process.

I have probably dabbled between paper and digital for the last 6 or so years in my general day to day note-taking.  I used to take notes on a tiny netbook in meetings but then joined a client who was freaked out by the use of technology and couldn’t understand that I was being productive and attentive in meetings.  They were convinced I was checking emails or working on something else.

I was lucky enough at this point to be introduced to the Livescribe pen*.  A pen that, when used on special paper, allowed you to sync the text to your computer so that you also had a digital version of the notes.  This has proved especially useful for me over the years as it has meant that once I notebook is finished, I don’t need to carry that and my new one around with me.  If I need to access old notes I can do it all from the digital copy.

I am now on my 3rd upgrade to the Livescribe pen, the Livescribe 3*! And it’s now evolved to being able to sync directly to my iPad via Bluetooth, allowing me instant digital access to me notes (and allowing me to instantly PDF key pages and email them to people should I need to).
Livescribe 3 pen and Livescribe Moleskine journal

When I discovered Bullet Journaling late in 2016, my first thought was how I could develop the system to work both on paper and digital forms, allowing me to be connected to my thoughts and actions where ever I was, with whatever I had to hand.  I pulled out a spare Livescribe Moleskine* that was sitting in my box of empty pads, and set out by copying over the key and signifiers from the official Bullet Journal website and video.

The beauty of using a Livescribe pen and pad, is for me the digital syncage.  Once I have written something, I can use the app on my iPad to transfer the written word to digital, and then I have it set to sync automatically to OneNote.

I love OneNote, it’s the perfect way for me to pull everything together in one place and allows me to conventionally split work-life and home-life into separate digital notebooks.  Even better, I also have OneNote on my phone, which means if I am out and about I have access to everything I need.

This means if someone asks a question about a meeting I have been to, or a race I have planned, I don’t need my Bullet Journal, or work notes, or diary….I just pull up OneNote on my phone and find the answer!

It’s also great for me as there are times that something comes to mind and I don’t have my Bullet Journal with me.  Out comes my phone, and I can add a quick “to do” list in OneNote.  Capture what I need to and then, if necessary, copy it over to my paper journal at a later point for action.  Or I can just tick it off as done on my phone.

In addition to the digital copy of my paper journal in OneNote, and the ad hoc notes I add as well, I use OneNote to expand my Bullet Journal fully into the digital world.

One of the benefits that I find, of digital over paper, is the ease of editing and addition.  Whilst it is great to be able to thread together collections in your paper journal, without worrying about order or saving space, sometimes you want to expand and keep everything in one place.

This is especially true for me in the case of our race list.  This is the page in my OneNote that holds a list of all the races that the Boyf and I are entered in in 2017.  It allows me to slot in new races if I book them, but keep them in chronological order.  Delete races if our plans change and we decide crewing a friend is more important than racing a mile.  It gives me flexibility and control.

Digital clip in OneNoteAnother bonus with OneNote is that it lets you capture digital artefacts and pull them all together in one place.  I don’t have time to write out everything I find on the Internet that I want to read, review or keep as research for something.  I am also not a fan of manually writing out URLs of websites to go back to later.  With OneNote I don’t need to worry!  If I find a website of interest whilst browsing on my iPad, I can send it to OneNote.  Busy at work and want to capture an interesting page on the intranet?  Simple, send it to OneNote!

I know that Ryder’s view is that the Bullet Journal should be all encompassing and you only need one journal for home, work and everything in between, but for me that doesn’t quite fit with my lifestyle.  So here I am, bending the rules and making the principles work for me.

With my Livescribe pen and pad, the power of OneNote and an unlimited imagination I am becoming more organised, more focused and more productive!

What are your Bullet Journal essentials?  Remember, all you need to get started is a pad and a pen!

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