If You Are Reading This, You Might Be A ProJo

Hey Pros! I wanted to post again on the name change and explain further my vision and ideas. I started this community because I was inspired by the Bullet Journal®. In fact, I still use a version of the original Bullet Journal, though I don’t follow the system the way Ryder Carroll created it.

I became a little frustrated at the end of 2015 and early 2016 when I saw so many people were using their Bullet Journal to draw mandalas or track housecleaning chores. Don’t misunderstand me, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I was using my Bullet Journal at work. I work in an ad agency, responsible for marketing and business development operations. I wanted a group of people to interact with who were similar to me and working in a professional field, and who also used a Bullet Journal. That’s how the Facebook group and this blog got started.

Over the last year, more than 12,000 people have come to the Facebook group looking for inspiration and ideas on how to use a Bullet Journal at work. What I’ve seen – especially over the last six months – is a degradation of the Bullet Journal. So many people have jumped into “Bullet Journaling” without perhaps understanding Ryder’s system or even spending time on his website in review. So, the term Bullet Journal has come to commonly represent any type of journaling or way of recording and managing tasks. At the same time, there has been increased legal scrutiny and actions to protect the Bullet Journal copyrights. I don’t fault Ryder for that at all. However, what started as a system that seemed openly shared – and sharing was encouraged – now seems less so. Again, I don’t begrudge Ryder. He’s an entrepreneur protecting a wildly popular system of paper-based task management.

My purpose was to form a community of PROFESSIONALS who were using the Bullet Journal. But with so many designs, iterations or hacked versions of the Bullet Journal as well as the rise and popularity of so many other paper-based journals and methods, it seemed like the right time to restate the focus – my focus – on the matter of journaling on the job. Devout Bullet Journal users are not only welcomed but encouraged to be here and lead discussions and interactions. At the same time, I welcome the Erin Condren® crowd. I welcome David Allan’s followers. I welcome those who have created their own system.

If you are using a paper journal to plan, organize and manage your work, this is the right community for you.

There is no discrimination. There is no favoritism. This is a community that embraces all and welcomes ideas and insights on how to make our jobs more organized, more interesting, more creative, and more productive.

To me, that is the embodiment of a ProJo.

Thank you all for your support, your ideas, and your leadership. If you want to chat with me about this, hit me up at projournaler@gmail.com.

Now….. Get back to work!

 

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Introducing ProJos – Journaling for Professionals

ProJoLogo.FINAL.4.14.17Today I am introducing a new brand and focus for this blog and community. ProJos.

While this community is still about “journaling on the job”, my objective to to focus specifically on planning, organizing and managing your work with a paper journal.

The original purpose in cultivating this community was to focus on using a Bullet Journal™ for work. As this community has grown over the last year, it has become clear that a Bullet Journal isn’t the only method that professionals are using to organize, plan and manage the needs of their occupation. Over the last year, I have learned from this community that there are many innovative systems of planning and working with pen and paper. In other words, using a creatively-crafted paper journal, no matter the methodology, is the true purpose for this community.

The Bullet Journal system, without a doubt, is one of the predominant methods used in this community, and there many who follow the structured Bullet Journal method. There are also those who use a customized version of the Bullet Journal with success on the job. Additionally, there are many other interesting and innovative systems, journals, binders and printables that are used today by Pros. I want this community to embrace all methods of journaling on the job.

If you are using one of these systems or journals to manage your affairs on the job, I want to officially say, WELCOME! You’re a ProJo!

·         Bullet Journal

·         Erin Condren LifePlanner

·         Planner Pad

·         David Allen’s GTD

·         Your Best Year Planner

·         Franklin Planner

·         Create Your Shining Year Planner

·         Plum Paper Planner

·         Passion Planner

·         Daily Greatness Planner

·         LiveWELL Planner

·         Create 365

·         Day Designer

·         Savor the Success

·         Get To Work Book

·         Blank Notebooks – DIY System

·         AND MANY MORE!

Let’s hear from Professionals who are planning and managing their affairs with all notebooks and journals. And stay tuned for more exciting things coming as we share more from ProJo’s in the weeks and months ahead.

#ProJos

Pro Q&A: Ryder Carroll, Inventor of the Bullet Journal – Part 1 of 2

This week on the Pro Q&A we are so proud to host the creator of the Bullet Journal®, Ryder Carroll. Ryder has had an influence on literally millions of people, making lives better, more organized and productive with his system of journaling and record-keeping. This is a two-part series featuring some special announcements and a better understanding of the man behind the Bullet Journal®.

Bullet-Journal-1

BJP: Ryder, first of all, it’s great to have you sit down and chat. I want to thank you for the incredible Bullet Journal system that you have created and advanced and for being the spark that has ignited a large and connected community of Bullet Journalists. Ryder, you have been a great inspiration to so many of us in the Pro community and yet I feel like we don’t know a lot about you, the man behind the Bullet Journal. We have so much to cover in our time together that this will be a two-part series. More on that in a little bit but first, let’s begin by having you share a little about yourself and what you do professionally.

RC: Thanks for having me! I was born in Vienna, Austria and lived there until I left for college, where I studied graphic design and creative writing. Now I live in New York City, working as a digital product designer for Idean.

Ryder Headshot
Ryder Carroll, Creator of the Bullet Journal

BJP: Can you give our readers some background on how you developed your system and, more specifically, how you have built a business around the Bullet Journal?

RC: It was a very slow iterative process fueled mostly by stubbornness and frustration. I had crippling A.D.D. when I was young, making school a painful experience. My teachers said I was “very creative” through gritted teeth. I just didn’t compute the way others did when it came to taking notes and learning. Existing methods and templates didn’t work for me, so, piece by piece, I designed ones that did. That collection of solutions is what you see today. Now I’ve turned my efforts to creating tools that teach others how they can overcome their challenges with the Bullet Journal®.

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BJP: The background and history of the Bullet Journal are fascinating to me and our readers. Talk to us though about how the system has changed or evolved since you created it. And, further, maybe touch on how your company has evolved as well.

RC: In short, the biggest change is purpose of the Bullet Journal®. The Bullet Journal® system was never designed to be shared, but it was designed to be adaptable and forgiving. Those qualities allowed it to remain effective and relevant over the years. It’s these qualities that seem to have resonated with others as well. Bullet Journalists have mapped my framework to their own lives with incredible ingenuity. The impact that it’s had on some people’s lives is transformative, and I never anticipated that. It’s very humbling and inspiring. My goal moving forward is to develop better ways to teach the Bullet Journal system.

BJP Note: For those who haven’t viewed the introduction video to the Bullet Journal®, please take a look here

BJP: The changes you discussed make me want to ask you about the changes you have seen in the Bullet Journal community. For instance, the number of news articles about the Bullet Journal and, most importantly, strong social media support has spawned so many new users and niche communities like the professional community here. What do you think when you see all of the various ways that people are using the system you developed? What does the community mean to you and the Bullet Journal?

RC: Frankly the communities are everything. They taught me how diverse the applications could be. It’s been an incredible learning experience and allows me to more clearly see what I can be doing better.

BJP: Let’s transition for a minute to talk about the big “B” – Brand – Bullet Journal. I see a lot of people posting pictures of their journals in Facebook groups, on Instagram and Pinterest. Many of these people are referring to their journal as a Bullet Journal but many of them look far removed from the system you pioneered. Many of these journals that people refer to as Bullet Journals are not even using your system. What do you think of that? What does it do to the brand, Bullet Journal, when the brand name is being misused or misrepresented?

RC: Though I encourage people to make Bullet Journal their own for personal use, it’s important to provide accreditation when sharing it with others. I ask this on behalf of those new to the system who may be encountering it for the first time. It’s important for beginners to get a good grasp of the basics before making it their own. The best way to do that is through BulletJournal.com

Most people just see images of beautifully designed notebook pages. However, those don’t provide the full picture. The Bullet Journal® is more than a system; it’s a practice that provides clarity through focus and reflection. The methods I’ve shared have been deeply considered and refined for over two decades. The brand is designed to protect and maintain the integrity of this practice, so that it can continue to provide value to Bullet Journalists. I can only do that with the help and support of the community.

logo FB cover

BJP: Well, one of the other reasons that you and I are sitting down today is to make a big, joint announcement to not only the Pro community but the entire Bullet Journal community. Ryder, do you want to share this news for everyone?

RC: I’m really excited to announce that Bullet Journal Pros will be moving to Bulletjournal.com! As of next month, Bullet Journal Pros will be a recurring column, featuring all the great content that you’re used to from Todd. He’s has done a wonderful job creating an invaluable resource for the Bullet Journal® community and I couldn’t be more excited to join forces with him in this collaboration.

Todd.Profile.2015
Todd Foutz, Bullet Journal Pros

BJP: Thank you, Ryder. I am so thrilled to be a part of Bulletjournal.com and continue our focus on professionals. We will be reaching a wider office and have an opportunity to better understand how professionals are using the Bullet Journal system.

We are going to continue to host our Facebook group for Pros as well as our Instagram feed. However, we are shutting down the Pinterest and Tumblr pages. I am truly looking forward to the move and restriping our social media pages.

BJP: We have covered a lot of ground here today. But we are far from done. As I mentioned at the top, this is a two-part series. Today we have heard from Ryder on the history of the Bullet Journal and the importance of the community that has been built around it. We’ve also covered the importance of the Bullet Journal brand and how important it is for users to understand the system, the use of the brand name and protection of that brand. We’ve also been very proud to announce that the Pro community will be represented officially on The Bulletjournalist blog beginning in August. 

At The Bulletjournalist I will continue to bring you interviews with professionals and, in the months to come, begin to roll out special programming for the strong industry segments in our community of project managers, educators, marketers, HR professionals and more. We will feature tips and advice for professionals and those wonderful spreads that professionals are creating in their Bullet Journals.

In Part 2 of our interview with Ryder Carroll, we will hear about some exciting new developments with the Bullet Journal and some enhancements to the website. Further, we will take a look into the crystal ball and talk about the future with Ryder and the vision he has for the Bullet Journal, the website and community.

This next part of our interview will be coming up in August and will appear exclusively on The Bulletjournalist

We will be sharing more on social media, but if you would like to receive a reminder when the new post is up, please let us know here.

Until then, get back to work!

Additional Resources

  1. To purchase your official Bullet Journal Notebook, visit

http://store.bulletjournal.com

  1. For information on the official Bullet Journal Notebook, visit

http://store.bulletjournal.com

  1. All the basics to get started with Bullet Journaling can be found here on the Bullet Journal website

http://bulletjournal.com/get-started/

Pro Q&A: Project Management Panel Interview

Hello Pros! Of all the questions that I have been asked about using a Bullet Journal for work, one of the most frequently asked is what is the best way to manage projects? There is a great interest for Pros in project management and advice on techniques and approaches. To help answer these questions and more, we have assembled three professional project managers and invited them here today. Joining us are guest Pros, Maria Kostelac, Erica Carroll and Courtney Bedi.

BJP: First of all, thank you all for joining us here for this important discussion on project management and the Bullet Journal. Before we begin, please take a moment to introduce yourself, share a little about what you do professionally and how long you have been bullet journaling. As an added fun factor, please share with us your favorite quote of all time. Maria, let’s start with you.

MK: Hi Todd, thank you for inviting me. My name is Maria Kostelac and I work for a professional services firm as a specialist in my field which is IT Governance. Daily, I juggle the tasks of managing multiple projects, teams, clients, information, communications as well as driving new-business and maintaining, growing my credentials.

HeadShot Maria Kostelac

The jump to senior manager in June 2015 doubled my work-volumes, business travels and the number of ‘moving parts’ I manage daily. It also meant having less of a buffer between me and the many executive-lines I serve. My home-life had ratcheted up a few notches as well when my parents moved into my home in December last year, due to my dad’s poor health. When it rains, it pours, huh?

By September last year, I was nearing burn-out. I researched “productivity systems” and unwrapped the worlds of GTD and Personal Kanban. Although what I discovered with these systems was inspiring and brilliant, I could not visualize what I would use to synthesize the principles I was adopting as part of these systems. My iPhone apps, page-a-day-diary and plain notebook didn’t survive my impatience with their formats. I stumbled upon the concept of the Bullet Journal on a blog interviewing people about their morning routines. What was appealing to me about the system was its’ elegant simplicity, action-orientation, reference-ability and the fact that this was a pen and paper system! I started implementing the basic system and have been iteratively refining it to my needs ever since. For me, this was the missing link to my productivity-system I have been building.

As for my favorite quote …


“The work we do is an expression of our entire being. Our work can be a powerful means for us to express our deepest aspirations, and can be a great source of nourishment, peace, joy, transformation, and healing.”

Thich Naht Hanh


 

BJP: How about you, Erica?

EC: Well, I would also like to thank you, Todd, for inviting me on this panel. I am a technical trainer in the audio video industry and my Bullet Journal has helped to keep me sane since I started using it and stay on track. I was a day-per-page task lister long before the Bullet Journal was introduced. The flexible formality of the system has only made me better at what I was already doing. I was happy to adopt the system in October 2013, so I have been using the system for some time now.

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My favorite quote is one that I found while reading a script in my high school drama class. It’s not well known, but has always spoken to me.


“One must depict life not as it is and not as it ought to be, but as we see it in our dreams” 

-Anton Chekhov


 

BJP: And, Courtney, would you introduce yourself?

CB: Sure … thank you, Todd, for inviting me to this panel today. I’m Courtney Bedi and I am a business analyst. This was not by any means what I thought I was going to be when determining my career path. I got my degree in Political Science, Pre-law with intentions on going to law school. I landed an opportunity to work for a large retail corporation while in college. During that time, this big box company had thrown me into a new world that had me intrigued. I wanted to learn more about how a business operates, specifically their supply chain. My job is very IT-driven and business process oriented. I looked for automation at every opportunity to reduce operational costs.

Courtney_Bedi_2

 

The formal term, Bullet Journal, is a fairly new concept for me. I technically had an unorganized method that was similar to bullet journaling that I have been using for about eight years. When I was in college, I was not only a full-time student but also a full-time employee. In order to juggle these two worlds I had to prioritize my tasks and have a strict schedule to be successful. I began using the XL Weekly Moleskins to assist me with keeping up with my goals. It was about a year ago when I learned about the formal techniques of a Bullet Journal as I was desperately searching for a structure to my unorganized lists.

My favorite quote is sure but meaningful to me:


Absorb complexity, produce simplicity



BJP: Well, welcome to you all and thank you for being here. Very interesting mix of quotes! So, tell me, based on your experience as a project manager, how is a Bullet Journal best used on the job? Give some specifics as to how you use your Bullet Journal. Maria?

MK: On-the-go, I use my BuJo as a processing point, in conjunction with my all-purpose work notebook, my personal mini-reporter for capture points. When working from home I use an online calendar with auto-reminders and a tickler-file which serves as my future planning point.

BuJoWeekly Maria Kostelac (daydesigner.com).2

 

My BuJo came into its own the day I captured my entire work-world and workload into a mind map which was dubbed, “Andromeda”, by my colleagues. This is a form of Mind Sweep from the GTD method. Andromeda allows me to visualize my work effort in relation to my pipeline, work-in-progress, pending completion and completed initiatives within a calendar month. It’s also my single reference for status-reporting and planning task-delegation. I print my weekly update of Andromeda and keep this as an insert booklet to my BuJo. It informs my weekly review and preparation along with inputs from the actions captured in my notebook and reporter, as well as my daily plan.

EC: I agree with Maria on her “all purpose” comment because, for me, my Bullet Journal is best used for keeping everything in one place.  Notes, thoughts and project meeting notes are all in the same place so it’s easy to look for when the time comes.

I use it to manage deadlines and follow-ups. Some people call this the “Waiting On” log.  Kim at Tiny Ray of Sunshine introduced this and I had to implement it immediately.  Her version takes a whole page as an ongoing list, while mine is just monthly. So, at the end of the month, I can easily see what’s pending.  For project deadlines, I use a quarterly Gantt Chart. It’s also broken into weeks below specify due dates.

EC Pic 1

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BJP: How about you, Courtney?

CB: Well, I have to say that my story here is very different than thoses of Maria and Erica. As of today I have yet to incorporate formal bullet journaling to my job. As I mentioned earlier, my job is very business-process oriented and I see a great benefit to also utilizing it for my career as well as using it to organize my personal life. At work, I have recently been assigned to a new project and I plan to use a dedicated notebook for managing this project. However, I must say that I enjoy the separation of work and personal life in my journals. I feel that it keeps me balanced.

BJP: Well, you’re not alone, Courtney. I hear from a lot of Pros who keep two notebooks. Let’s talk about some of the projects that you manage on a daily basis and how you do it. Please also share with us how you use your Bullet Journal for these projects as well. Courtney, why don’t we start with you this time.

 CB: Well, Todd, my daily activities will often depend upon which phase of the project I’m working on. Typically we will have soft copies of formal documents such as a Project Charter and Business Requirement Documents (BRD). Each of those layout some foundational goals and objectives which I like to always refer back to ensure the project is still going down the correct path. Although I am just starting to incorporate my BuJo into my job, this is how I would begin to organize it. I see using the scope, project overview, objectives and possibly deliverables as a spread to refer to. I see great benefits of trackers to manage daily tasks or meetings. Some dedicated collections would include project stakeholders, risks, dependencies, assumptions, roadblocks, project intersections, and a parking lot.

 BJP: Very interesting. Erica, how about you?

EC: That was a good list. As for me, my projects are mainly courses for our LMS (online Learning Management System). I work with Subject Matter Experts to outline the course and, like an assembly line, the course is built. It starts with the content followed by scripts, animations, voice overs, renderings and finally it is loaded into the eLearning system. Currently we’re working on translating our most popular course into four other languages. Again, this is where the Gantt Chart is keeping me on schedule because I’m managing four translators and their progress until completion.

EC Pic 3

 

 

BJP: And Maria?

MK: I use my BuJo to plan my week and day ahead and also to track the way a day progresses. This allows me insights into the dynamics affecting my work day and awareness of what needs improvement. I use the GTD concepts of “context” in listing my tasks against a label which is informed by the mind map & timesheet system, followed by a colon “:”. I write a time-estimate against each listed task and I assign a priority rating of 1-4 and then note the source of the task. I monitor which sources generate the most work outside of any formal workplan. I note an asterisk against three of my Priority-1 tasks because the completion of these tasks are imperative to moving key initiatives ahead. Finally, I migrate incomplete tasks to the next day in order to prioritize actions then.

Regarding the time estimate that I mentioned, time-tracking is both a billing and time-management issue for me. So, I’m using “estimated time” against my tasks – work and personal – when I plan the day ahead. I group the quick tasks, which are those that will take five to 10 minutes, to complete during available time-slots in my calendar. The longer duration tasks, which are typically greater than 30 minutes, get their own slot in the calendar for the next day or across days which follow. This helps me judge my workload against available time in my journal for meetings and/or making new commitments via either email, calls or meetings. I capture completed tasks in my Microsoft Outlook calendar against the same time-categories as my time sheet reference. In Outlook, I can filter against ‘categories’, which match up to the labels in my BuJo, when it’s time to do billing and spot-check my timesheet report.

As far as the projects on my daily list, I’ve included here a review of those.

  • Client proposal design, development, review and submission
  • Client engagements
  • Management routines/events
  • Eminence planning and deployment
  • Research
  • Personal development, i.e., self-study and eminence plans
  • Internal training, mentoring and coaching initiatives
  • Service packaging and marketing initiatives
  • Event planning
  • Domestic projects and social plans
  • Art projects

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BJP: Let’s shift gears. Tell me what other tools – analog or digital – you use on the job as a professional project manager and which are most valuable to you?

MK: Actually, Todd, there are quite a few tools I use in my productivity system. Here’s an overview of what I use.

  • For my mind maps I use either Mind Manager or FreeMind
  • My mini-Moleskin Reporter which I keep in my handbag for on-the-fly capture of notes, ideas, lists and actions
  • I use lots of sticky notes for lists I create over the week
  • I use my Outlook calendar for work, personal and social calendars which are visible in one place on my iPhone, allowing me to coordinate focus and travel plans
  • I use the Reminders app on my iPhone as the need arises
  • I have a A5 Tickler-file that holds all of my manual references for the 12-months ahead
  • I use both Evernote, which holds all my research, and Pocket which holds all my ‘to-read’ online finds and research
  • I love the printables at Day Designer
  • I also use the iPad app, Meeting Pad, for project meetings and formulation of professionally formatted minutes with action-lists, action delegation and due-date tracking. It also migrates to your Outlook/iCal calendar, if you wish.

EC: Wow! That’s quite a list, Maria! I’m going to have to lookup some of those. For me, I have found that there are two things which are most helpful. The first one took me many years to master and it’s proper organization of my email. Having functional folders that are easy to navigate are so important. And I like to have all of my actionable items stay in my inbox. If I’ve completed my part, I will file it away and if I’m waiting on a response, I write that in my follow up log.

The second thing that has helped me to stay organized is having a Kanban Board in my office. It’s so nice to see it visualize on a big board. I use Post-it ® Notes to move tasks from to-do, pending and complete. The to-do list is my favorite because it can be things we can accomplish way in the future. Ideas are thrown out there and we forget, but with this method, we can remember what was said months ago and decide if it’s still relevant.

CB: Wow, you both have shared great ideas with me! Here again, I’m a little different than both Maria and Erica. I was taught to use Microsoft Word and Excel for the majority of my go-to planning needs. However, before I use either software or my Bullet Journal, I will go to my trusty whiteboard. I really enjoy the freedom to brainstorm and organize my thoughts and begin envisioning the future state to the project on a big whiteboard. There’s nothing like it for me.

BJP: What a great range of planning tools from the simplex to very complex, which raises the question of what aspects of your job don’t translate well to the Bullet Journal? In other words, what elements of your job are not captured currently via a Bullet Journal? And why is that?

MK: Well, I will start again. I would say that there are four categories of items that are not captured in my BuJo.First are meeting notes. I keep a separate notebook for all note-taking in general. I use a key to indicate actions, events, reminders, etc. as I capture my notes in words and sketches. These can be converted later to my BuJo.

Second are brainstorming notes. I often brainstorm during meetings as I interpret what is being said into models, templates, processes or conceptual frameworks and relational diagrams.

The third category of items I don’t capture in my BuJo has to do with project and status reporting. My master mind map in Mind Manager exports to Microsoft Project. This allows me to report on progress to my superiors and clients at the push of a button. This format is compelling because it allows me to manage dependencies, timelines, resources, budgets and risks.

The fourth category of items that I don’t use for bullet journaling may surprise you. It’s future planning. You know, my BuJo is my go-to for daily and weekly planning. The monthly view is useful for putting a peg in the ground and noting important events over the days of that month. I use it probably twice each month – the 1st and 30th. Ha! I keep a 12-month ‘catchment’ page at the back of my journal to capture items I need to pop in my calendar or tickler at the end of the week. And each  of those gets crossed out as I capture the item into those other systems.

EC: Well for me the main thing that doesn’t get captured in my Bullet Journal is physical training events. I guess I just haven’t figured out a way to manage them on paper yet. There are too many pieces that change all the time in our training events. Often there are many people involved, a great variety of equipment needed, plus the reservations for flights, hotel, transportation, etc. If anyone has a suggestion, I’m open ears, HA!

CB: You’re going to think I’m silly, Todd, but I have yet to find out what works well or not on the job. I look forward to finding out with my upcoming project as I begin to use my BuJo for as much as I can.

BJP: At Bullet Journal Professionals, we’re always curious about those who influence our readers in this community. So tell us, where do you get your inspirations for your Bullet Journal?

MK: Oh there are so many inspirations. There are books such as the well-known GTD system and book, written by David Allen, “Getting Things Done – The art of stress-free productivity” and Thich Naht Hahn’s, “Work – And how to find meaning in each hour of the day

The blogs that I adore are Robyn Scott’s on self-leadership and many bullet journalists are familiar with the online magazine, My Morning Routine.

I also listen the podcasts, “The Charged Life with Brendon Burchard” and David’s “Getting Things Done”.

EC: For me, Todd, it started with Pinterest. And I naively thought there should be a group for this, so I created a LinkedIn group (shameless plug) called Bullet Journal for Business. Then I found the Bullet Journal Junkies group on Facebook. While I really like the group for my inspirations, I’m not one for all the decorating and the washi tape addiction that many there have.

Through that group I discovered Tiny Ray of Sunshine, Boho Berry  and the Bullet Journal Pros Group. These have all offered an amazing amount of inspiration and information. Other than that, I scour the Internet for agendas and planners, looking for layouts that I can use or adapt. This is my personal addiction: planners and notebooks. It’s not limited to the Internet either. When I go into a store I have to stop and look at journals to check out the formats, sizes, layouts and binding methods.

CB: Well I’m glad to hear that I’m just like Maria and Erica here in that I enjoy viewing other layouts of bullet journalists online and seeing if it something that I could use to help format my thoughts for presentations. I would have to give credit to the entire Bullet Journal community for always finding new ways to organize and structure their journals – and their lives – to achieve their goals. Someone who I admire for her layouts is Ursala, @Honeyrozes, on Instagram. I truly enjoy her simple and beautiful style as well as the way she organizes and structures her thoughts on paper. Her layouts are so appealing and her work I find easy to migrate into my own approach.

BJP: You all have been great this morning! So much information for Pros to use and learn from in regards to project management. I appreciate your time today and have one final question for you. We have seen a lot of growth in the Pro community over the last couple of months. Looking down the road, as the Pro community continues to grow, what would you like to see happen that could have a positive impact on you and other project managers?

MK: Well, Todd, let me step back a bit to answer this question. Despite being passionate about my work, I have to tell you that it was eating me alive. That tipping-point forced me to articulate the intention of fulfilling my role in a manner which radiated love, discernment, ease, decision-dexterity and wisdom over the day. Perhaps this was an unanticipated benefit of maturing my professional role. I’m shifting now from consulting and managing projects to leading. So now I find myself at the next gate which is passing the system on to peers.

Researching the stories of others has elevated my own intentions and expectations of what’s possible when we reign in unconscious ‘doing’, reactive habits and the ‘victim-mind’ that sprouts from the confusion of it all. For me, I would love to hear the stories of how other Pros are experiencing using, evolving and managing their Bullet Journal system and then pass it on to others. I’d like to know what obstacles others have encountered and if they are seeing shifts in their roles, attitudes, influencers and role models.

EC: Those are great points, Maria. For me, I would also love to see how other Pros use their notebooks. It doesn’t even have to be the traditional Bullet Journal style. I think sharing adaptations and layouts could help everyone. In other groups, it seems that most everyone is proud to share their creativity, but when it comes to sharing a notebook for work – aside from sensitive information – someone might think it’s too boring to share. I’ll end this with my mantras: Collaborate. Share. Innovate. Be more Productive.

CB: I have learned so much from Maria and Erica here today. I am just starting the process of managing projects in my Bullet Journal so I have a lot to learn from everyone. I’m looking forward to reading more from others as well as experimenting on my own. This has been very informative for me and I hope I shared something that could help others just getting started as well.

BJP: Well, thank you Maria Kostelac, Erica Carroll and Courtney Bedi for your time today and all this great information for our readers. We are looking forward to seeing and hearing more from you in the following months.

MK: Thanks, Todd, this has been fun!

EC: Agreed – thank you, Todd, I appreciate you asking me to come and share my system with everyone.

CB: As I shared earlier, I’m a newbie and just getting started so I hope my perspective has helped others getting started. Thank you, Todd, for inviting me to participate. I agree with Maria, this has been fun.

Pro Q&A: Kara Benz, BohoBerry.com

This week’s Pro Q&A features the multi-talented, multi-social-media-slayer and all-around wonderful bullet journalist and artist, Kara Benz, the creator of one of our favorite blogs, BohoBerry.com. Kara’s posts and videos include beautiful techniques, teachable-moments and inventive ideas which are often filled with thoughts of peace and gratitude. But don’t let her Zen persona distract you from her Ninja business savvy. Kara is running one of the most successful blogs and businesses in the community and is continuing to expand her interests. She has recently opened a new Etsy shop that features printables, stickers, artwork and more. Kara’s work, joy and counsel are found on almost all social media channels and in many groups on Facebook. We are so pleased and proud to welcome her to Bullet Journal for Professionals.

 

BJP: Kara, thank you for all of your contributions to the bullet journal community and for being a great inspiration to so many of us. For those of us in the Pro community, let’s start by having you share a little about yourself, what you do and how long have you been a bullet journalist?

KB: Thank you so much for having me, Todd!

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m the voice behind the Boho Berry Blog. In addition to blogging, I also run a successful YouTube Channel, and recently launched an Etsy shop (as if I didn’t have enough going on already!).

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Before I began my online business, I was in the service industry. I worked as a server, bartender, and restaurant manager for 15+ years.

At some point I realized that I wanted to do something more purposeful with my career. I wanted to build something that I could be proud of and that would help others in the process.

Boho Berry was born out of that desire in May of 2015, and I haven’t looked back!

I first discovered the Bullet Journal system a few years ago, but wasn’t in a place in my life where I needed it. I tried it out for a month or two, but it just didn’t stick.

In August of last year, 3 months into my new blog and business, I realized that I needed a way to organize all of my thoughts and plans. I rekindled my relationship with my Bullet Journal and the rest is history. I can’t imagine where I would be without it today.

BJP: Share with us your experience, Kara, with both analog and digital planning that you’ve used and advantages of the bullet journal, from your perspective.

KB: I’ve definitely had a lot of ups and downs in life when it comes to planning. I’m actually a highly digital person, and I love apps and new software programs as much as the next person. But there really is something about putting pen to paper that allows me to express my thoughts so much more clearly than any app can do.

I’ve tried almost every planner system out there, never really sticking with one in particular until I came across the Bullet Journal.

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The biggest advantage to the Bullet Journal system for me is its flexibility. If I miss a couple of days, I know that I can just turn to the next blank page and not worry about blank “wasted space” like I would with other pre-printed planners.

Also, having the ability to create my own layouts has been a huge factor in me finally sticking with one planning system. I am free to lay out my week as I see fit. If it works, great! If not, I’m free to switch it up the following week.

Being able to make small tweaks as I go and really customize my own system is the #1 reason I love my Bullet Journal.

BJP: Speaking of tweaks, what features of the bullet journal do you find are well-suited for career-minded professionals?

KB: Again, I have to emphasize the flexibility factor. There is SO much to manage when it comes to our careers, and I don’t believe there is a single pre-printed planner on the market that can handle managing all of the hats that we have to wear on a daily basis quite like the Bullet Journal can.

BJP: In regards to your website, Kara, discuss how some of the basic principles from Ryder Carroll’s initial concept of the bullet journal work or don’t work for you and any work-arounds or hacks you use.

KB: Ryder Carroll’s original concept is a great starting point. Although I’m known for adding a lot of complexity to my Bullet Journal, I constantly find myself drawn back to the simplicity of the original method.

That being said, there are two parts that I have “hacked” to work better for me.

1 – The Index

I still use the index as described by Ryder, but I’ve added in a “color index” to my pages. The color index is essentially a way for me to flip easily to pages/collections that fit within a few major categories.

Color Index

Whenever I create a collection that falls into one of these main categories, I’ll color in a little square on the edge of the page. This helps me to quickly flip to a recent collection that I’m searching for without having to scour my entire index.

2 – The Calendex

The Calendex is a method of future planning developed by Eddy Hope. I always struggled with the traditional future log. As someone with a LOT of events and appointments, I needed a better way to wrangle them all.

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The great thing about the Calendex is that I can write my appointment details out in real time, on the day that I make the appointment. I then simply index that page number on my main Calendex page so that I can see all of my events and appointments at a glance.

BJP: These are great hacks, Kara. Would you share with us now some of the projects that you manage for your business in your bullet journal and how you do it?

KB: I manage a multitude of projects on a daily basis for my business. So many in fact, that I created a separate “Blog & Business” Bullet Journal in an A4 sized notebook.

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The larger A4 format is perfect for brainstorming ideas, creating mind-maps for projects, and planning out marketing and editorial calendars.

BJP: As we said at the beginning of this interview, you are such an inspiration for so many bullet journalists, Kara. We’re curious, where do you get your inspirations for your bullet journal?

KB: My biggest inspiration is Ryder Carroll himself. Not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for him developing this amazing system and sharing it with the world.

I’m inspired daily by Kim Alvarez, Jessica Chung and Dee Quine. These girls have been instrumental in spreading the Bullet Journal love all across the globe, and I consider it SUCH an honor to work closely with them on a weekly basis.

Of course, I can’t miss the opportunity to thank the entire Bullet Journal community. I’m constantly inspired by the sheer number of folks who are out there sharing their progress with each other on a daily basis.

BJP: Finally, as we wrap up, Kara, what would you like to see from this community of professionals?

KB: Honestly? I’d love to see more interviews along the lines of this one. It’s so fascinating to me to get a glimpse into the planning lives of other career-minded individuals. So thank you for putting all of this amazing content out there!

 

And we say, thank you, to the lovely and talented Kara Benz of BohoBerry.com for participating in this interview and your great advice and spirit. For those who want more of Kara’s energy, tips and plain good reading material, head on over to her blog or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube and, of course, her new Etsy shop. And after that, get back to work!

Pro Q&A: Cory Ann Ellis, A Multi-Career Professional

This week’s Pro Q&A features Cory Ann Ellis, a South Dakota-based marketing professional at Montgomery’s and owner of her own commercial photography business, AC Ellis Photography.

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BJP: We are pleased to welcome you, Cory, to our blog. Tell our Pro community a little about yourself, what you do and how long have you been a bullet journalist?

CAE: Thank you for inviting me! Let me start by saying that I am a wife, mother, chronic traveler (I’m currently in Beacon Hill in Boston) and professional.

It may be hard to understand what I do by my title alone. Titles do little to explain responsibilities. As the Brand and Marketing Manager for Montgomery’s, a 5th generation family owned home fashions business, I am re­sponsible for coordinating all our marketing efforts. Our department consists of me and a marketing assistant. This means that I am personally responsible for doing much of the day-to-day work for Montgomery’s.

Here are some of the things I do: media buys for print, TV and radio as well as graphic design for signage and print materials. I also take care of writing, magazine publishing, direct mail, newspaper inserts, photography, website design and management along with promotion development and training, social media, e-mail, co-op submissions, budgeting, strategic planning and … whew!

In addition to my role at Montgomery’s, I am also an entrepreneur. I’ve run my own photography and marketing business, AC Ellis Inc, since 2004. My company is still rolling strong. I have two excellent employees: a project manager and an associate photographer. In order to do my job well and still have time for my family, I have scaled back my shooting and enjoy training my project manager to manage the business and take on more of our marketing clients. Two of my main marketing clients are Ideal Wedding and Events and CB Stark Jewelers. For our marketing clients, we collaborate with them to provide whatever type of marketing they need. For our photography clients, we offer wedding, portrait, food and different commercial photography services. Oh boy, writing it all down makes me tired!

For years, I have used notebooks, usually Moleskins, to take notes, create lists and reference material. Sometime this past February, I realized that the notebook I was using at that time — a Moleskin Evernote edition — only had about ten open pages remaining. I found myself going back and filling in all of the remaining open space in the journal and I also used Post-it® tabs along the top and side of the notebook.

Old Notebook

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While I always had my reference information in the Moleskin, it was not an efficient process. So I began looking for a different notebook. I ordered about ten different notebooks from a variety of sources.

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I came across the Leuchtturm1917 and it was like a lightbulb went off when I saw the num­bered pages and the index. Shortly after I purchased the Leuchtturm1917, I came across the bullet journal website by Ryder Carroll. And instead of a light bulb, it was like Times Square! Why was I using numbers? Why was I using lines and not dotted pages? Why didn’t I create a system for my Signifiers? It all came together at this point.

My first entry into my notebook using the bullet journal system was March 23, 2016. This notebook is dedicated solely for my job at Montgomery’s. I have greatly enjoyed the process of bullet journaling and have now created a second note­book for my photography business.

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BJP: Discuss with us your experience with both analog and digital planning and advantages of the bullet journal.

CAE: There are many tools that I’ve utilized over the years for planning. I designed methods to help me track whatever the job required. Until recently I didn’t realize that many of the systems I created had incredible similarities to some well-known systems like Kanban and GTD. I’ve started to research these methods to help fine-tune what I am currently using.

My system is a mix of a few different methods which are used for different purposes. In other words, I tend to use what works best for the job or project. Software programs I rely on include: Evernote, iCal, Spreadsheets (Numbers & Excel), Custom Content Calendars (InDesign), and OmniFocus.

BJP: You are relatively new to the bullet journal. What features of the bullet journal made it your choice to use as a professional photographer and marketer?

CAE: As I mentioned above, Ryder’s bullet journal system overall and the Index particularly were the features that won me over. These features are ideal for meetings, research and all of the random things that pop up on a regular basis. I know this is silly but I liked that I didn’t need to jump around my notebook any longer and instead keep everything chronological. This means less wasted notebook space and it’s so easy to find my past notes.

BJP: Discuss how some of the basic principles from Ryder Carroll work or don’t work for professionals.

CAE: The fundamental principle of Ryder Carroll’s system that works for me is the Rapid Logging. The Bullets and Signifiers are excellent! I’ve adapted the Signifiers to work better with my responsibilities.

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I’ve found that many people using the bullet journal system have a notebook for personal use or perhaps to manage their activities as an entrepreneur. In my situation at Montgomery’s, with direct reports and coordinating with multiple departments, I required a slightly different approach.

What doesn’t work for me, however, is the Future Log feature of Ryder’s original system. If I kept my Future Log in my bullet journal, I wouldn’t be able to share my commitments and tasks with my team. I keep my Future Log/Monthly Log in OmniFocus, Ever­note and iCal. I do use the Monthly Log when I have some big events which block out entire days. The basis for my system is the Daily Log.

The Migration system is important for many people but I don’t want to spend time redoing my tasks every month. I’m a bit more strategic about items that go in my Daily Log and do not migrate tasks.

BJP: Tell us about some of the collections in your bullet journal or pages that are meaningful to you.

CAE: Oh boy, collections are one of my favorite aspects of the bullet journal. I’m often researching a topic and I love how I can just start making my research notes right there on the next page in my notebook. I transferred some my collections from my last Moleskin note­book and those are all lumped together at the front of my Leuchtturm1917. I’ve also extended my Indexes to include a unique Index especially for projects, article topics, etc.

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BJP: Where do you get your inspirations for your bullet journal?

CAE: I’ve looked for inspiration online, and, honestly so much out there is beautiful and colorful but not helpful for me in a professional/business setting. Journaling is not my hobby; it is a tool to help increase my efficiency with work so I can spend more time relaxing with my family. Although, I do admit to a recent obsession with fountain pens and I do enjoy writing with them in my notebook. My favorite blog is Kim Alvarez’s Tiny Ray of Sunshine. Her spreads are beautiful and tend to be clean and functional, which is what appeals to me as a professional.

BJP: What would you like to see from this community of professionals?

CAE: You know, I’d love to see how other people are hacking the system to make it work for them. Specifically those in positions or jobs that have a lot of employees or large teams. It might also be fun to see how people are integrating their systems with their digital world, like I do with my other programs. I believe these are things that are important to professionals like me.

 

Thank you so much Cory for your insights and beautiful photographs of your bullet journal. You are indeed a very busy and productive woman. I think I can hear your supervisors now telling you to “Get Back To Work!”

For more information on Cory, please follow her on Instagram or check out her photography work for your next project at www.acellisinc.com

What Does It Mean To Be A Bullet Journal Pro?

It has been so gratifying to see this community of Pros growing significantly over the last couple of months. And more people joining our community every day. So, we thought it was appropriate to take the time and be clear about our mission here and some of the things we would like to accomplish through this community and with the help of this community. And, of course, we put it down in our bullet journal.

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Every Pro knows about mission statements, right? A mission statement is like a goal for what the organization wants to do for the world. Or it becomes the framework that an organization uses to guide its actions. At Bullet Journal for Professionals, we have a mission statement as well.


Mission

Serving Professionals with advice and knowledge on adapting and enhancing a bullet journal to be more organized and productive on the job.


So, let’s break down this mission in order to better understand the significance of the words.

Serving Professionals: In two words, we identified that we are SERVING – not necessarily leading or educating or coaching. We believe that we can do all of those things through service. And the word Professionals identifies our key audience. But we clearly are not putting too fine of a point on that. You can be a Pro Mom or a Pro Truck Driver or a Pro Tennis Player and fit into this community if you are following the principles.

With Advice and Knowledge: We believe that we grow and learn from advice from those who have the knowledge and experience. One of the great creative leaders from the advertising agency BBDO once stated, “If we can see further, it’s because we stand on the rungs of a ladder built by those who came before us.” We believe in the power and truth of these words.

On Adapting and Enhancing a Bullet Journal: Well, here’s the rub, right? Ryder Carroll was very clear in his definition of a bullet journal. So, we can stop there, right? Not exactly. That’s the beauty that others have discovered about a bullet journal and one of the many reasons why so many people are coming to discover the power of this tool. In our community, we believe that the bullet journal CAN be adapted and enhanced specifically for Professionals. And we are building a community to better provide that advice and knowledge in order to continue to expand what is possible for Pros.

To Be More Organized and Productive: We struggled here in finding the right words. There was so much to say beyond just being organized and productive. In fact, Jessica Chung mentioned in her recent Q&A that BALANCE is a goal she seeks. And there, in fact, can be many similar goals that are unique and personal for each of us. But at Bullet Journal for Professionals, we believe that Balance and Energy and Creativity – or whatever your own goal may be – is often reached through better and proper organization. Further, there have been studies that have proven that organization breeds greater throughput and productivity.

On The Job: And so we end in many ways as we began. Whether you are the CFO of a Fortune 100 company or the CMO (Chief Mom Officer) of a five person household, you can benefit from using a bullet journal to better organize your “job” to be more successful and satisfied.

Goals

The goals that we have set for Bullet Journal for Professionals are meant to be updated annually based on the progress we are making towards our mission. As we thought about our year ahead, we have created the following goals.


  1. Connect and unite a community of like-minded professionals who use a bullet journal on the job.

  2. Provide useful, relevant information and networking opportunities.

  3. Expand the usefulness of the bullet journal by introducing new applications, designs and collections to the community.

  4. Become a voice for business management through journaling.


These goals will help us steer our actions on the blog and on our social media sites. Specifically, you can find us now on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and Pinterest.

Plan

Finally, now that we have outlined a mission, established some goals, determined the channels of communication, we can put together a plan. We hope that we will continue to provide you with useful advice and information throughout the year across our channels but there are some features or “sections” that we want to highlight.

Pro Q&A: As you have seen so far, we intend to find and interview a diverse and eclectic group of bullet journalists on a regular basis to provide you with a peek inside as to how they use their bullet journal “on the job”.

Bullet Points: There are so many great tips and collections that we see on a regular basis. We want to make sure that we share “what’s new” with our readers as part of our goal to providing great content and uniting people.

Day Job: I know on our Facebook group we have Pros representing so many diverse industries and backgrounds. It is fascinating to read how someone in Dallas uses their bullet journal in law enforcement or someone in Portland uses their bullet journal in running their small business or someone in Toronto uses their bullet journal in a restaurant. Here we are uncovering real business issues that can be addressed via some aspect of a bullet journal.

Pro-Showcase: There are entire groups and pinboards devoted to spreads. And Pros have some of the most interesting. Whether you are following a minimalist style using only black ink or prefer lots of color and graphics to your pages, you will find something interesting and unique in our Showcase.

So that’s it. That’s what we are all about at Bullet Journal for Professionals. We really value your input and ideas as we move this community forward on our mission.Now, if you will pardon us, we really need to get back to work!

Cheers~

BJP