One of my never-ending quests is utilizing the bullet journal system for work – to make the most of my time toward the right things. As a bullet journal pro, this is an evolving endeavor. I shared my initial set up and transition back a few months ago, but the system has shifted and morphed since then. So today I’ll share how I use my bullet journal system for work now.
The key in my system is continually re-thinking what’s working and how to make it better. This cycle of reflection is what continues to create a system that will do what I need it to. For work, that means:
- Keeping goals in mind – annual goals agreed upon with my supervisor
- Project planning for the different areas I’m connected to
- Identify my tasks
- Take notes
- Track running thoughts for different projects throughout the semester
- Curriculum planning
With that in mind, here’s the flip through of my set up. (Since this is a flip through, I’ll only feature a few of the layouts in full photo form – the rest you can see in the video!)
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MY PLANNER SET UP
My Planner Squad. You might remember I have my everyday carry bullet journal, which is a Foxy Notebook cover with inserts inside. These include my rapid log, planning, collections, and blog. All of my tasks go into this cover – I mix personal and work tasks together because I need them in one place or I will most certainly lose something. I find different ways of separating them, like in different columns or boxes, but they’re in the same spreads.
Teaching is a big part of my job, and with that comes a lot of other planning for lessons, readings, assignments, and more. I’ll talk more about that whole system in the future!
Which brings me to this beautiful pink Leuchtturm notebook. Before, I used what I called a “baby bullet journal” and once I got 70% of the way through decided it was just a touch too small. Plus I’ve been itching to use one of these notebooks more regularly. In this notebook I’ll keep all my reference materials and lists – this usually won’t come home with me, hence why tasks must be transferred into my Foxy. Here is what it looks like inside.
MY WORK BULLET JOURNAL
Y’all, maybe I actually WILL use an index for this notebook – with so many pages, it makes sense. Plus I don’t have to number 250 pages by hand so….. that helps. I borrowed a leaf from Kim’s book and split the Index in half – currently, the left is everything, but the right is the biggest part of my job, so I’m dedicating a whole column to pages related to it.
I’m big on anchoring myself in goals. Each time I start a journal, there really is no question as to what goes first – I like to know the big picture and remind myself of it every time a fresh start happens. This time I did a play off my July Project layout by using these hexagon stamps from FoxyFix to create a hive of my annual goals for my job. This is just an easy way to see the things I’ll be reviewed for and assessed by throughout the year.
Work Flow Chart.
I cannot help it – any time I experience some confusion in what I’m supposed to be doing, I make a chart like this that looks at projects temporally. My role is particularly robust – aka I wear many hats and sometimes have a hard time grasping the scope of my work. This work chart helps identify heavy times and exactly what’s happening during the cadence of the academic year.
This is helpful particularly for project management – I can see from above when project cycles start, when I should slot in additional one-off projects, or when I can, you know, take a vacation (lol what’s that). This helps me be honest with myself as well – sometimes I just don’t have capacity for a lot of work at a given time, and this chart illustrates that pretty well.
This chart works by identifying the time span (for me it’s months) across the top, and my different responsibility buckets on the left. Using some colored pencils, I color in when I’m particularly focused on that project throughout the year, adding some extra shading to the heaviest times. The extra space on the right is where I can fill in page numbers in a pseudo-index sort of way.
Under the division are one-off projects that are happening just for this year and are not usually part of my cycle.
I liked this a lot from my last work notebook so I’m transferring it over – I suck at acknowledging and celebrating the things I do well or big milestones, so this page is intended to help me do that. I am kind of nerdy, thus, Level Up, thus, the mushroom.
This helps when I do my annual review and I can pinpoint specific moments that happened that punctuated my work. I don’t just include major project achievements and deliverables but also things like powerful moments with students, or my own personal breakthroughs in teaching.
One of the ways I plan projects is through timelines. I wanted to give these time-ladders a shot (thanks, Ursala and Cristina!). This is a great way to outline key milestones and pace the work you have to do. From there…
…I can do something like this, which breaks down tasks and categories and specific action steps. I could also add more specific times and deadlines if I wanted to.
This is the main reason why I upgraded to an A5 from a Pocket size notebook – to take notes inside. I go to a lot of trainings and want enough room to do lettering and sketchnotes. Problem solved. The dot grids have always been my favorite because the dots give me structure while the space gives me freedom to expand my thoughts in more visual ways. There are two versions of note-taking I have, which is more “key note” type which is capturing ideas and “meeting type” which includes task boxes.
I believe I originally saw the idea through Levenger, to pull out tasks from my notes so they can stay visually together.
Other Collections I Keep:
- Changes I want to make for class. Once something snags or I have an idea, I add it to a running list so I can make those changes in one go in the summer – this is great for any cyclical or running project.
- “Page 3“. This is our office’s kitschy way of suggesting something that’d be nice to do, but doesn’t make it onto our page 1. These ideas get parked on this page.
- Expectations. One of my greatest mentors taught me that I need to make my expectations known – especially if I am in a powered situation (like grader, or evaluator). He taught me to have grace for the first snag, and then to explicitly lay out the expectations for the future. These things don’t just materialize – they usually occur to me when they are not being met or exceeded. I try to capture them here to better understand what I expect from students and from employees/TA’s.
- Conference notes.
- People and Partners to remember on campus. Partnerships are KEY in doing work across boundaries, so it helps to know who I’m talking to and who I should call.
- Stories. These are living examples of the concepts I try to teach – perhaps helpful in your context for other things with clients or your team
- Reading. Self-explanatory, but as I work to expand my body of knowledge, I keep track of the readings I want to pursue next (you know, in all the free time we have at work)
- Explore. There are so many new ideas, concepts, conferences I want to check out – I jot down these suggestions from colleagues here.
- Training sessions. Part of my job is facilitating trainings – but it’s hard to know what the outline should look like, so I use one side of the spread for my brain dump of ideas, where I draw connections and mind maps to see what ideas are key. Then I use the other side for the neatened up version after I’ve made sense of my own thoughts.
So those are some highlights – and you can see how the bullet journal has honestly been critical to my success at work these days. I’m positive so many things would fall by the wayside without it! I’d love to hear more about your ideas in the comments – is there a layout or set up that I could use at work?