How I use my bullet journal now – April 2015

I began experimenting with the bullet journal approach long before my diagnosis of adult ADHD, and in hindsight, I can see that my deep fondness for paper planning was actually a way I was able to succeed (in many ways, albeit at great cost) for so long. Many of those who work with adults and teens with ADHD acknowledge how helpful paper planning can be.

Over time, I refined my approach to fit my specific needs, and I am enjoying the structure it provides.

Part of what I have done is create a double-page spread for every day and get very specific about categories of tasks and other items. Below, you’ll see that I put the time-specific scheduling at the top of the page. An appointment buried in the middle of the page, even when delineated with a special symbol, is an appointment I might miss. It also gives me a quick overview of where I have “space” in my day for the other tasks.

Double-page spread

Double-page spread

Below that, I divided my tasks into five categories:

  1. Phone calls
  2. E-mails
  3. Online (yes, e-mail is online, but I consider the e-mail communication and separate it out)
  4. Errands
  5. Work (at this time, it was prep for a conference presentation…heading changes)

I also have experimented with sections like “fun” and “notes” — see above. On other days, I have added a section with the affectionately-titled “nag” list for items that are reminders to check in with kids on chores, practicing music, and other items I want to emphasize (cough::flossing::cough). There’s some fluidity based on priorities at the time. Do I feel like routines need to be emphasized with the kids? Nag list. Do I feel like I’m not having enough restorative time? Fun list. Both? Why not?

Sometimes, like on this day, I needed help visualizing when to get everything done, so I noted if it was something I could do in the evening. Sometimes, if it’s a small task, I’ll note the item with a “B” for “break,” meaning that I can tackle it during a break. I’m not rigid about this. There are days that are less crowded. I still use a double-page spread, though. It just appeals to me, visually.

Other marks include techniques standard to a lot of bullet journals. The completed task or appointment has a box (task) or circle  (event/appointment) filled in. The item I didn’t begin has an arrow to indicate that I’ll move the item forward. A half-filled box represents a task I started. I occasionally mark a task with a star, if I am mentally stating that the item MUST be done for the day.

Note that I have made one change in my organization: I now put my work tasks immediately below the events and appointments. This is symbolic, reminding me that even though I have a flexible schedule, my work should not be placed last on the agenda.

Hope this helps give a sense of how I’m using the bullet journal to provide structure, rehearse the day ahead, and become more productive. If you use a bullet journal, have you adapted it in ways that you find helpful?


2 thoughts on “How I use my bullet journal now – April 2015

  1. Derek@50

    Wow – you have a lot to do each day! This approach makes sense in that case. For me, with usually 5 to 10 items per day, I don’t need this categorisation. But I do underline the tasks boxes for work-related items (just to make them stand out more).

    1. Mary Post author

      I like the idea of underlining the task boxes as a way to make them stand out! I’m working on whittling down those items. What I love about the bullet journal is the flexibility to shift the format based on needs during different “seasons” of activity/life!


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