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.
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.
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!