John-Paul Flintoff

What A Relief To Write Tasks, Events and Insights On Paper

Three Logs | Notation | Index | Catalogue | Download | Footnotes

Recently, a Special Projects member1 booked a slot in my “office hours” calendar to ask about the paper-based journal I use to keep on top of tasks and insights.

Essentially, the system is straightforward: like using a conventional diary plus to-do list. But tiny alterations and additions make a big difference.

First, a quick overview.

6-month Log, Monthly Log, Daily Log

At any time, I keep three kinds of date-related pages.

I devote two pages to scheduled events for the six months ahead (three months per page seems enough space for me). I create a new version of these two pages every three months, so that the distant future never creeps too close, if you see what I mean.

For the current month, I again devote two pages:
  • on the left I write the days of the week, numbered 1 to 31 (or 28, 29, 30 as appropriate)
  • on the right I list tasks that need doing this month but which don’t have a set date

I also keep pages for a Daily Log, to fill from one day to the next. Here’s an example:

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In this pic, you see that every day I write down any TASKS after a dot, like this:

. pic of the book

As soon as it’s done (as in that example), I put a cross through the dot:

X pic of the book

This way, looking back much later, I can see what I’ve achieved (it would be hard to see that if I crossed out the words).

I have, however, crossed out these words:

link to Amazon book

This means that I abandoned that task altogether.

EVENTS get a circle, not a dot, thus:

O Rachel W call

Tasks that I haven’t completed by the day’s end get migrated to the next day (or to the separate page containing months ahead), with an arrowhead/angled bracket sign through the dot:

. sched year ahead courses


> sched year ahead courses

This enables me to see which kinds of task I did slowly/reluctantly.

Finally, INSIGHTS get a dash:

- Daily Mail sells books

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Inspired by the publication of a book about the history of the Index2 (a lot more exciting and, frankly, amusing than you might expect), I decided to write an alphabetical index to my Bullet Journal3.

By this point, I had already filled most of the book. I was curious to find out, by writing an index, what the book actually contained.

To make this index, I skimmed through the book, looking for keywords that leapt out as important, typed them into a word processor, sorted them into alphabetical order, and finally wrote them by hand them into the back of the book, as you see here.

The time consuming part was going through to find the pages where individual entries appeared. I never finished, to be honest, but it was useful and interesting to notice which topics I did bother with, and which I abandoned.

Of the topics you can see in the photo, the most common entry was (visible here only as Flint) – ie, things to do with this website.

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After I had filled the first book, and quite a few pages of the next book, I wanted a way to remember the contents of the first book without carrying it around everywhere.

So I wrote into the second book a quick summary, over three pages.

Afterwards, I wrote a note to myself about what I had noticed / learned, by drawing up this catalogue.

One thing surprised me: I have not been keeping any kind of record of the writing on this website. I decided to start printing off essays and articles, including this one you are reading, to put in a folder.

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If you’re curious, you can download the original handwritten notes I made last year after reading about Bullet Journals online.

File: Daily, Monthly and Future Logging (Notes by JPF).pdf [3.27 MB]
Category: coaching
Download: 21

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1 ↩︎ Special Projects. Patrons of my Special Projects can book slots to talk to me about whatever’s going on. It’s first-come, first-served.

2 ↩︎ Index, A History Of The. You can read a review of the book by Dennis Duncan in The Guardian online

3 ↩︎ Bullet Journal. For most of the ideas on this page, I’m indebted to the inventor of Bullet Journals. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I just don’t like the name Bullet.

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