Pro Q&A: Jessica Chung, Pretty Prints & Paper

Bullet Journal Professional, Jessica Chung, talks about using a bullet journal to organize and balance her life.


This week’s Pro Q&A features Jessica Chung, a Minneapolis calligrapher/bullet journalist/blogger and face behind Pretty Prints & Paper. On her blog, Jessica combines her passions for teaching and planning to inspire others to cultivate the life they have always imagined through tutorials, ideas and lessons about lettering and bullet journaling. You might find her in different states and countries, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, art classes of all kinds, a cappella concerts, or at the nearest Americano.

Jessica Chung

BJP: Jessica, tell our Pro community a little about yourself, what you do and how long have you been a bullet journalist?

JC: Hi Todd! Thank you so much for having me on the Bujo Pros blog. I am a leadership educator, so specifically I work with college students. I have the joy of doing many things, from teaching, to writing and evolving curriculum, designing instructor training, advising students, recruitment and retention strategy and whatever else! All my life I’ve been involved with a lot of different things so I have always needed a system to keep it all straight.

I’ve tried so many systems – ring-bound planners, Post-it® Notes, school planners, disc-bound, Evernote, Google Tasks – and have never stuck with a system longer than a few months. I started using an adapted version of the bullet journal a year ago and it has made a huge difference in conjunction with other tools. Although the bullet journal was intended to be completely analog, that’s just not how I live my life. As a digital native, I found ways to integrate my apps with my analog style, which I wrote about in a blog post earlier this year. These system changes have helped me balance things, make room for important things and keep it all together…well, most of the time.

My bullet journal set up consists of my main bullet journal, which is in a traveler’s notebook. All my tasks live here, along with my go-to collections and my blogging insert. I keep a work notebook separate from my bullet journal. This notebook stays at work and contains all my notes, project plans and things I don’t really need at home. This set up has been working really well because I don’t lose tasks through the cracks but I also don’t fill my main Bujo with stuff I don’t need to see all the time. I wrote a post recently about using a bullet journal at work that explains more about how I work.


BJP: What features of the bullet journal do you find are well-suited for career-minded professionals like yourself?

JC: Ultimately I love that the bullet journal is flexible and analog. By creating your own planner you are designing a structure that best fits your life and unleashes your own unique potential. It is also refreshing to take notes in meetings and not on a computer. Going “analog” without email distraction in these settings is significant. It helps me engage better with people in meetings, connect more with the ideas being discussed and do it all more effectively. The collections aspect of the bullet journal system has been transformative in my curriculum work as well. Since we launch the curriculum on a semester basis, the ability to keep a running list of changes and notes makes summer work much easier and more data-driven.

However, I must add that one aspect of the conventional bullet journal system that has never worked well for me at work is the future log. I work in an organization that uses Google Calendar for everything. We set up meetings, reminders and events on Google Calendar so remaining analog with my schedule would feel really isolating, I believe, and make it more difficult to collaborate. Plus, it is easier for me to have a digital calendar accessible at any point and easier to add events on the fly.

Another caution for Bullet Journal Professionals is on the subject of collaboration. Most professionals know – and I have written about this as well – that when you are working on a project with someone else, it’s important to find mediums that allow others to collaborate with you. In Bujo terms, it means that I make sure project notes are available digitally and shared online, even if it means I need to retype some sections. Analog and digital notes serve different purposes and both are important and valuable to you individually, but also to a team.

BJP: Tell us about some of the projects that you manage in your bullet journal and how you do it.

JC: First, I use this overview to get a sense of the flow for the year. Then I start zooming in on projects. Since most of my work is team-based, these spreads are really more for my own reflection and prioritization; to get myself set up to do the right work in the best way going forward.

Annual Plan

In each part of my job there is a process that follows a cycle throughout the year. I break it down and outline it in a list form. From here I do a few things: I might put milestones in my Google calendar, which then get translated into my weekly task list or I’ll put tasks into our Asana Project List, which I can assign to other people on the team. My tasks remain in my bullet journal, but the digital hacks help us as a team to stay on the same page.

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

JC: I admire so many people in this community, but specifically there are few who have been meaningful to me. They include:

Kim (@tinyrayofsunshine) Kim should be no surprise for Bullet Journal Professionals since she was one of the first bullet journal bloggers and is still innovating useful ways to adapt the system.

Dee (@decadethirty) Dee is one of the most unbelievably creative people I know in the bullet journal community. The ideas that she has developed to adapt the system are remarkable and I’ve never seen anyone else come up with such transformative hacks as Dee.

Ursala (@honeyrozes) Ursala’s beautiful modern, utilitarian style reflects her design-oriented mind. She has a simple but really robust and inventive way to organize her bullet journal.

BJP: As we wrap up, Jessica, tell us what would you like to see from this community of professionals?

JC: I would love to see us collectively shift the definition of our success at work – to balance the need to do together with the need to be. So, I’m excited to see what great ideas you all have to work smart but also live well.

Thank you, Jessica, for your great insights into using and adapting a bullet journal to be more effective and productive on the job. For the few in our community who may not know this influential blogger and Bullet Journalist, you can connect with Jessica Chung on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Periscope. And please go follow her blog at Pretty Prints & Paper.

Now, get back to work!


What Gets Measured Gets Done

I’m sure most of you Professionals have heard the old expression, “What gets measured gets done.” Many of the most respected business authors and motivational speakers have used this expression at times to suggest that measuring and/or tracking something provides you with the information or data points that you need in order change something or achieve something.

Our mission here at Bullet Journal for Professionals is to serve professionals with advice and knowledge on adapting and enhancing a bullet journal to be more organized and productive on the job. There are some key words in this mission statement.

Adapting and Enhancing – The beauty of the bullet journal is the users ability to adapt or customize the planner to meet your needs. In the case of us Pros, we want to adapt it to work for us on the job. We also believe that a Pro’s journal can be enhanced with job-specific collections or project management pages.

Organized and Productive – Here are the keys for a Pro. We have to be organized in our jobs in order to “get things done”. We want to make sure there is good organization and flow in our days in order for us to be productive, which should lead to greater success for us on the job.

So, looking to our week ahead, we have embraced these words – adaptation, enhancement, organization and productivity – to create a weekly layout.

ProSpreadThis layout was inspired by our Instagram friend @nittany_bujo … if you don’t currently follow her, please do. She is a Penn State Biomedical Engineering student. I have adopted and enhanced her layout specifically for me.

This takes us back to where we began this post – there are a lot of measurements to log and monitor in this spread. So, what do they all mean? Here’s the Key:

ProSpread2So, let’s start at the top. On my timeline tracker in my weekly spread, the time slots go from 11:00pm to 10:00pm. Typically, I go to bed in the evenings about 11:00pm. I have provided a color coded timeline key: Blue for sleep, Purple for my BuJoPro activity, Green for my work and Red for personal time.

Underneath the timeline is an open square. This allows me to track my tendonitis pain and discomfort on a daily basis. I will score my pain from 1, which would represent little to no pain up to 5, which would represent the highest pain threshold. For those Pros who suffer with tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome, you have our sympathy.

To the right of the open square is a square dived into three sections. This square is the weather station. A quick doodle/sketch of the weather forecast will be in the top box with the high and low temperatures in the lower two boxes.

Underneath the weather station is a rectangle divided into eight boxes. This section is to log my water content during the day. I’m a big proponent of staying hydrated during the day no matter what work you do. Each small square represents eight ounces of water. According to the Mayo Clinic, eight 8-ounce glasses daily is a good rule of thumb. Plus, the 8-by-8 rule is easy to remember.

To the left of the water station is another rectangle divided into eight boxes. This is where I log achievement of my daily goals. If you recall my earlier post on Radar Charts, I have five goals that are important to me on a daily basis. In this section I can track these with a color coded system. Blue is for my belief that I am Productive during the day. Orange denotes that I am Happy on this day. Green signifies that I still have Energy and feel healthy at the end of the day. Purple is the color for feeling at peace and having Gratitude. And, finally, Red is the color for when I believe I am Creative. The eighth box is where I score the day based on the sum of my goals. As with my Radar Chart, a score of 1 is the lowest score and is reflective of an ineffective and poor day. A score of 10 is the highest score and represents a highly effective, highly functional day. As I think about each of my five goals, I give myself a total score on the day.

Below the tracker for my daily goals is an open rectangle with an icon of a scale beneath it. This is where I track my weight on a daily basis.

To the right of the weight tracker is an open rectangle with a single square inside. This is my exercise log. With my tendonitis issue, I’m not able to do as much at the gym as I would like but I am trying to keep up with some degree of exercise at least four times weekly. In the larger space within the rectangle, I log the activity which may be walking, aerobics, isometrics, weightlifting, etc. The small square will contain a check mark if I exercise on that day.

The remaining space for the day in the layout will contain my primary to-do’s or tasks. I try to have three primary tasks that I attempt to complete each day in order to feel like I was productive on the day.

So there you have it, Pros. As I head into the week, I’m going to follow the old saw that what I measure will get done. Again, thanks for @nittany_bujo for the inspiration and thanks to the Professional community for your support.

Now, get back to work!

Pro Q&A: John Wells, Owner, JB Welly, Inc.

Interview with Bullet Journal Professional, John Wells @jb.welly on Instagram and @jb_welly on Twitter

BJP:   Tell us a little about yourself, what you do and how long have you been a bullet journalist?

JW: John WellsI’m John Wells, owner of J B Welly, Inc. My background is in the publishing industry and up until a couple of years ago I was President and Director of Technology for a magazine publishing company in Seattle. I was the one who put in place all the organizational systems and processes, did the hiring and firing and generally kept the place operating smoothly. These systems were all computer and database oriented. When I left the company a few years ago, my first instinct was to create a software company. But I started to realize that I was pretty tired of spending all day every day staring at computers and I craved to do things that didn’t require the computer.

As the one in charge of organizing the publishing company for many years, I knew the major work-flow concepts very well. I was particularly focused on GTD – David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology – and I implemented various flavors of it througout the organization. For my own personal day-to-day task management I used the iPhone app, OmniFocus. This is an excellent product and I relied on it for every aspect of my personal task management. I couldn’t imagine how I would ever be able to function without it.

As part of my craving for non-computer things, I suddenly found myself enamored with fountain pens and handwriting. I began to keep a daily journal and I found myself with a fountain pen obsession. I had fallen in love with handwriting and looked for more reasons to use a fountain pen.

Then about a year ago I came across Bullet Journaling and Ryder Carroll’s site. I began to wonder if a Bullet Journal could actually replace my beloved OmniFocus. Is it really possible to keep track of everything without using software? It was exciting, and a little scary, to think about. Then one day I decided to give it a try.

One of the main things I relied on through the day was being able to capture tasks anywhere at anytime with my iPhone. So I started carrying a Field Notes pocket notebook and a pen with me. I implemented the core elements of the Bullet Journal system in the Field Notes notebook, which was always with me. It was a little like strapping on some paper wings and jumping over a cliff, putting all of my trust in the new system. I found that it worked like a charm! After a couple of weeks I realized that it was totally going to work!

Not long after that I wanted to expand my Bullet Journal use and incorporate my daily journaling. So I got a Leuchtturm1917 dot pattern notebook and set up a full-fledged Bullet Journal. To satisfy my need to capture tasks and ideas anywhere anytime, I carry a Field Notes in my pocket, and then migrate to the Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal. The Field Notes is my GTD Inbox.

Soon I discovered that I liked the ideas of Bullet Journaling so much, I decided to go into the business of selling pens and journals online.

In these days when we spend so much of our time sitting at computers or staring at iPhones, it’s just great to have some things that are not in the computer. I feel like the Bullet Journal has given me the ability to be organized and efficient and in control of all of my projects without having to use a computer to do it. I feel so much better being able to use paper and pen for some things in my life.

Notebooks for John Wells
Field Notes, Leuchtturm1917, Rhodia

My current set up is a Leuchtturm1917 A5 dotted journal as my Bullet Journal. I carry a Field Notes pocket notebook with me everywhere, and I use a Rhodia A4 pad for meetings that will require a lot of notes.

BJP:   What features of the bullet journal do you find are well-suited for career-minded professionals?

JW: One of the core strengths of the Bullet Journal system is that it is modular, and each person can use whatever parts or modifications suit their own needs best. With computer apps, you are limited to using just what the developers have made, the way they want you to use it. You end up on an endless search to find the “perfect app,” which, of course, doesn’t exist because everyone is different. The free-form, modular nature of the Bullet Journal also makes it way better than any pre-printed planners that you can by. Just learn some of the basic Bullet Journal layouts, modify them to your liking, and you’re good to go.

Another thing that I think is really important for the professional is that it gets us out of the computer for at least part of our job. These days it doesn’t matter what you do for your job, most of us are stuck sitting in front of a computer for the bulk of the day, which is very unhealthy. It used to be that people moved around more at work. Now the big issue is how to get more movement while we are at work. With the Bullet Journal,  at least some of our job involves not using a mouse and keyboard.

BJP:   Tell us about some of the projects that you manage in your bullet journal and how you do it.

JW: For project management, I use a system that is a simplified analog version of what I developed in the computer at my former company. I call it the “Welly Method.”

Project Index
Project Index

It starts with a Project Index that lists all projects. It indicates whether it’s for home or for work, the project reference number, the page where the Project Page is located, the name of the project, if it has a due date, and a check for when it is done. A quick scan of the Project Index gives me an overview of all the projects I have going.

The details of the project are on the Project Page. This is a simple layout that has the working details of the project. Because of the fluid nature of projects, I use a pencil rather than a pen. The page starts with the project’s reference number, then the project name, if it has a due date, and a check for when it is complete.

Project Pages
Project Pages

Below the Task List is the Project Log. This is a place to record everything that is happening with the project. Generally it has a quick entry when something is done, along with the date it was done. With this you can look over the history of the project, what happened, and when it happened. If the log entry involves something on another page (such as meeting notes, the creation of sub-projects, or collections of information), the page number is put next to the log entry.

Next is an area for general project notes. The areas of the Project Page can be as compact as a single page for simple projects, or expanded to many pages depending on the complexity of the project. If some tasks are delegated, there can be a section showing who it was assigned to and when it is due. If a project grows bigger than the original layout, any part of it can be extended to more pages.

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

JW: Honestly, I am inspired by the whole Bujo community. There is huge interest in Bullet Journaling right now, and some really cool things are happening. Brilliant ideas are springing up all over the place. Though my Bullet Journals are mostly unadorned and focused more on the flow of information, the stuff happening in the non-professional Bujo community is truly breath-taking! I think it’s absolutely thrilling to see the conversations around the ideas everyone are exchanging. I am particularly moved when I see that someone’s life has changed because of Bullet Journaling – that suddenly someone has been able to make sense of life’s chaos and been able to achieve their goals.

There are so many, but to name just one person who I think is doing great things for the Bullet Journal community,  that would be Kim of Tiny Ray of Sunshine. She is awesome, and is inspiring so many people!

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

I think, as professionals we are more interested in how it works rather than what it looks like. I love seeing all the beautiful and amazing things some people are doing, but I am always thrilled when I discover some new concept or way of organizing things. I think it’s important, in the information age, to keep looking for analog ways of doing things so we can keep the joy of pen and paper alive long into the future.


Thank you John Wells @jbwelly for your time and insights!

Now, get back to work!

Pro Q&A – Coming Soon

Hey Pros!

I wanted you to know that we will be adding a weekly feature on the blog that will include an interview with members of the Bullet Journal Professionals community. We have some great talent and experience in our community and we wanted to have a forum to share that experience and their insights with you.

Look for our first Q&A to be posted soon.

The Pen and The Hammer

I’ve heard from a couple hundred folks on our Facebook group who like our new logo at Bullet Journal for Professionals. As the community of Pros has grown, I decided that we needed to “go pro” with a great logo.

I’m a big fan of Canva. If you haven’t used Canva yet, you’re missing out on a powerful tool for creating all types of graphics from blog headers to Facebook cover photos, postcards, invitations, CTA graphics and more. Check it out here.

I used Canva to create the Bullet Journal for Professionals logo. I wanted an image that married the power and simplicity of the2 bullet journal with a symbol that signified work. I came up with the idea of a fountain pen as the handle for a hammer. The hammer is a recognized icon for building things. That is appropriate for this group as well. We are building a community of journalers on the job.

Once I had that simple blend of the pen and the hammer, I wanted to create an icon that had a button shape. Circles are great icons and my new pen/hammer image in black worked well in the shape. The turquoise color has cool, calming attributes. Turquoise also signifies creativity and balance. Again, great attributes for this group.

The typeface I chose for the words “Bullet Journal” is Playfair Small Caps. It’s a recognizable font for news headlines. It has a formal quality with delicate hair lines and takes its influence from the Baskerville typeface.

I wanted the typeface for the words “for Professionals” to stand out, appear official and make a statement. I chose the typeface Satisfy for these words. A brush script with pizzazz. It gives the look of a timeless classic, yet with a modern flair. The yellow color helps the words pop off the turquoise background.

I hope you appreciate this design for our community and that it represents the action-oriented, confident, hardworking, creative people that we are.

In the meantime, get back to work!

Finding The Time. Easier Than You Think.

If you are like me, your days are action-packed; beginning often before you get out of bed and are just checking email or daily updates on your phone. It feels sometimes like you just don’t have enough time in the day to accomplish everything you would like to. However, if you keep track of your time in 15 minute increments, you may find that you have many small breaks throughout the day that you can capture and use in a creative or productive way.

There are so many things that I would like to be able to squeeze into my day when I am between meetings or I wrapped up a conference call early and have an extra 30 minutes at my desk that I didn’t anticipate. I created these charts as a reminder of some things that I can accomplish when I have 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes to spare in my day.

WhenYouHaveTheTimeIn just a 15 minute stretch, I could brainstorm a new blog, clean something (like my desk!) or follow-up on a cold lead.

With 30 minutes to spare I could read some industry blogs or publications, take a walk and recharge my energy level or do a larger-size task.

When I am 45 minutes out from my next appointment, I could write a new blog post, write a case study or profile, or view an online course or video.

And, if I’m lucky enough to have any hour between scheduled tasks or appointments, I can clean up our marketing database, take on two big tasks, film a video or brainstorm a new promotion.

It’s nice to have a page like this in my bullet journal that I can turn to at any time when I have a few minutes to spare. Maybe when you are creating your appointment calendar for your week ahead, you will want to consider a page like this to fill in the gaps during your day.

Now, in the meantime, get back to work!

Radar (Chart) Love!

OK, obscure reference to the classic rock Golden Earring song, Radar Love. Hopefully some of you, Pros, will appreciate that. And, hopefully, most of you Pros will appreciate learning about radar charts and how to incorporate them into your Bullet Journal.

I read recently on Heather’s blog, which you should definitely check out, about how she uses radar charts. I decided to incorporate them into my weekly plansBujoPro Radar Chart.

The elements I wanted to track and plot were:

  • Productivity
  • Happiness/Fulfillment
  • Energy/Health
  • Gratitude/Peacefulness
  • Creativity

For me, I wanted to track how productive I am during the day. I often have four or five projects active and each have numerous tasks. I want to come home at the end of the day with a sense of accomplishment. On my radar chart I can plot on a scale of 1-10 whether I was a slug or a top gun. And I make a mark on the Productivity line on my radar chart.

I also want to track how happy I am each day. I can achieve a great deal and be satisfied with my productivity but still feel stressed or edgy. I’d like to feel a sense of contentment and happiness instead. So I mark that on the Happiness line.

Staying fit and healthy is important to me. I want to track daily my energy level and health. It’s a good feeling to come home with your tank still full and not feel wiped out in spite of a long, productive day. I rate my energy level on a scale of 1-10 on the Energy line.

A day of back-to-back meetings, deadlines, 100 unopened emails in your inbox and your voicemail light blinking on your phone will not only affect your happiness and energy level, but it impacts your gratitude. It’s important to me to continue to be thankful and have a sense of peace at the end of the day. This is hard to do sometimes in our work, but I want to track my sense of peace on the Gratitude line.

Finally, in my work in an advertising agency, it is critical for me to feel like I am being creative and innovative in my work. Creativity is the heart and soul of the work I do so it is no surprise that I want to track my Creativity daily on my radar chart.

So, what do you think, Pros? Is this something that you may want to consider trying in your Bullet Journals? Give me your thoughts about this. I’ll be interested to hear from you.

In the meantime, get back to work!