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:
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 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!
Want to see more of how I bullet journal for teaching? See posts here and here.
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.
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.
See the original version I did here.
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…
One of my new pen obsessions – the Inkjoy Gel 0.5mm!
…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.
In this spread I used a Tombow Dual Brush Pen (N89), a Pilot G2 0.5mm, and a double-tipped Tombow Fudenosuke.
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:
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?
Thanks for an interesting flip-through. I’m now to bullet journaling and so far hadn’t planned on having a separate one for work, however am now starting to think I should try it eventually. Maybe a smaller notebook since I don’t do as much sketching and my job, although in higher ed but on the admin side, doesn’t require as much detailed planing and note-taking.
Yes I started with a small notebook and it worked okay for a while! Maybe that will be perfect for you
I’m really loving the wordplay in this article, Jess! Leaf, hive, you’re awesome – I love some good wordplay 😀
You’re awesome, hehe
Thanks for sharing these! I use a similar gantt on Excel (and then copy into my bujo to merge with personal activities) – it’s a really good way to see one’s capacity/free time at-a-glance. List of books to read and things to explore are great too.
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Categorizing the tasks and sectioning off the right side of the note taking pages will help me a lot! Thank you!!!!
This was fantastic! I started bullet journaling in January, with mine being mostly for personal but including some work items. At the time, I was still working in Higher Education, and found the process to be super helpful for my organization and overall productivity. I recently transitioned into a new career in Corporate Learning and Development, and I’m finding that I want a separation between the work and personal bujos. Since my new job is very different than the past decade+ in higher ed, I’m definitely trying things out and learning what works for me as I go. This video was IMMENSELY helpful in giving me ideas that I can try here! Your process of tracking weekly/daily tasks in your personal is just what I was imagining for my approach. I just ordered my first work bujo (and my first leuchtturm1917! For personal, I’ve been using a PaperSource journal), and am so excited to put some of your ideas into action, and to learn what works for me here. THANKS! 🙂
Thanks for sharing this. I’m heading to an academic conference tomorrow and this has given me some ideas for collection spreads and note-taking. I always feel that I forget/lose things I meant to follow through on after a conference, since I end up diving right back into the semester fray. I’m hoping some of these ideas may help me do better this time.
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