Want to be a productivity hero? You just need pen and paper!

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If you have a smartphone full of productivity helper apps, you’re not alone. Each new app to the market makes the claim that it’s better than all the other almost identical apps on the market, and that this one will be the one to change your life. Granted, it’s possible that this is the app that will work for you,

but when it comes to a productivity system that meets your specific needs, nothing beats simple pen and paper.

Simple listmaking, however, can be counterproductive, and actually encourage procrastination. It’s worth finding ways of making your lists that differentiate between different activities, and encourage productivity. One system known as Bullet Journaling is worth giving a try when it comes to structuring different aspects of your working and non-working day.

Bullet Journaling works on four separate indexes to get you organized:

  • A main index – so that you can find your brilliant ideas again easily without having to flip through dozens of pages.
  • A future planner – so that you can plan ahead with deadlines and events.
  • A month planner – so that you can plan tasks and events for the month.
  • A daily planner – effectively, your immediate ‘to-do’ list.

If your notebook doesn’t already have page numbers, write them in, so that your indexes actually make sense, then get to grips with what are known as ‘rapid logging’ techniques. Simpler than it sounds, rapid logging will merely allow you to put quick notes, appointments, and tasks all in the same place, using different symbols to distinguish them. Tasks get a bullet point, notes a dash, and appointments, a circle. Just like a conventional to-do list, finished tasks turn the dot to an X, and things that need to be moved due to time pressure, or are relevant for tomorrow as well have their dot or dash turned into an arrow, and are written in for the following day.

In combination with your page numbers and index, Bullet Journaling could save you from a sea of never-ending post-it notes, scraps of paper, and lost contacts. Scribbled a phone number down and need to call it? No problem, it’s on page 37. Need to email that proposal but can’t find the address? You’ll find it on page 21.

Everyone will have their own methods of indexing, and if you’re stuck for ways that might work for you, Instagram and Pinterest will provide many examples of how to lay out a Bullet Journal
. You can even buy notebooks intended for just this purpose, but until you know if it works for you or not, anything with numbered pages will do just as well. At the end of each day, write relevant page numbers on your monthly log for the day, and move any tasks that you didn’t have time for to tomorrow’s list.

The major plus point that Bullet Journaling has over an app is that it encourages thinking time away from a screen.

If you create your list at the end of your working hours, it can form an effective divide, and help to improve your work-life balance, not to mention the calming process of going old-school and putting pen to paper.