I read a few pieces on Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal technique of analog (paper) organizing of the tasks, events, and information that make up our lives. So I took a look, and found some of the ideas compelling — I will summarize the technique in the second section — but I immediately rejected the premise of doing this by hand, in a bound journal. In the third section of this post I outline how I am giving the Bullet Journal concept a try, but using the new Quip co-editing system.
The Bullet Journal technique is based on a few basic elements, and a process to regularly review and carry items forward as time passes. These ideas are based on using a paper journal, and this description follows that.
The Index is the first page of the journal, and the various sections — monthly calendars, projects, lists — are referenced and their page numbers noted for east access.
At the start of each month, the user makes a monthly calendar, with the days of the month, the day of the week, and the main event of the day. On the facing page, the major tasks of the month are listed, with checkboxes.
Each day you make a day page, so you need to leave blank pages after each month calendar for room. During the day you can add information (with a bullet), events (with a circle), and tasks (with a checkbox). At the start of the day, you can look back and move forward items that were unfinished.
Projects and collections can be given their own pages or spreads, and added to the index.
You get the idea. The premise is to take time out, at the start of each day, week, and month to determine what to do and assess what’s been accomplished. All well and good. But I hate the idea of writing manually, not being able to use hyperlinks to connect these elements together, and manually indexing.
Quip is a newly released co-editing tool (see I want a social editor, but Quip isn’t there quite yet), which has a lot of promise, and just the right UX architecture to be used for the Bullet Journal.
First, I created a folder called Bullet Journal, and instead of an Index, with manual page numbers, I created a file called 2013, and created various items in a list, and in many cases, I created other files for the detailed information. For example the item ‘September’ linked to a file of the same name.
The links can be made as standard URLs, or by using the internal list of Quip files and documents. For example, her’s my September calendar, where I simply start typing ampersand and then chose to link to a Quip file holding information on a workshop I will be doing in November in Toronto:
In some cases, I want to override the file names and so I use URLs, which works too.
I can also use folders to create collections, like all the days in September, or various files related to the workshop — outlines, tasks and logistics, and so on.
Since I use other tools online to manage my work, I can integrate those into Quip in obvious ways, for example, a link to a Google form, the URL of a Gmail message, the link to a Todoist project, or a pinboard tag.
And of course carrying items forward on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis is a matter of cutting and pasting, not rewriting.
Lastly, the thing I have not tried yet at all, but which is integral to Quip is co-editing. I can invite people to share any folder. So, for example, my collaborators on the Toronto workshop can be invited to share that folder, but not the others. This gives me a fine-grained way to cowork on these project files, but all embedded in my personal organization system. Very cool.
I will give this technique and tool combination a try, and try out the cowork aspect of it, and report back after a few weeks.