Keep track of the past, organize the present, and plan for the future with a bullet journal. Here’s what you need to know about starting a bullet journal to help you with your business.

Teresa Boardman is a long-time columnist with 400-plus Inman columns under her belt. She writes about her real estate observations and experiences as an officeless indie broker in Minnesota.

Bullet journals were designed to be a simple organizational system based on short sentences penned in an ordinary notebook or journal. Not every bullet journal has to be like the embossed, Pinterest-worthy, colorful notebooks that pop up in Google searches — every bullet journal is unique, just like its owner, and that’s the beauty of it.

Here’s what you need to know about starting a bullet journal to help you with your business.

My journal

Photo credit: Estée Janssens | Unsplash

I started my first bullet journal in July 2016 (I am not one to wait until January to start something new). Finding the right system was a bit of journey as I experimented with several before discovering which was best.

I use one journal for both business and personal entries, but some people separate the two and use two journals.

My journal is based on a simple system that helps me keep track of the past, organize the present and plan for the future. It is flexible and provides more than a “to-do” list or a calendar every could.

I like the journals from bulletjournal.com, but similar books with dotted pages can also be found on Amazon.com. I like a smaller portable notebook that I can bring with me. Having a book that lays flat when open is also a plus. Any pen I can find works just fine.

My pre-bullet journal days

Photo credit: Cathryn Lavery | Unsplash

Before I started using the bullet journal approach, I would get lost in my “to-do” list. The to-do list did not help me plan for the future and it was easy to lose sight of the big picture.

I know for sure that it is possible to complete numerous tasks each day without accomplishing much.

About the bullet journal

Photo credit: Estée Janssens | Unsplash

Ryder Carrol, the author of The Bullet Journal Method, sums it up by saying the bullet journal is a way to “track the past, order the present and design the future.”

The book came out this year and it explains the philosophy behind the journal and why it works. It might be available at your local library — I noticed the National Association of Realtors (NAR) library has a digital and an audio copy of the book. (If you are a Realtor and have not discovered the NAR library, check it out.)

Carrol is easy to read and tells his own story along the way. Like most of us, he had a million ideas in his head all at once and had trouble staying focused.

I recommend the book, but if reading an entire book seems like too much work, go to bulletjournal.com and read the simple tutorial, keeping in mind that the system is flexible and can be tailored to meet anyone’s needs.

Organizing your bullet journal

Photo credit: Adolfo Félix | Unsplash

Bullets are short sentences with symbols in front of them so that there is a visual record of tasks, events and notes. Notes can be ideas, thoughts or observations.

The future log is the part of the system that is used to plan for the near future. It offers a glance at each month. What are my plans for that month? Are there events that are already scheduled like an anniversary or a vacation?

Think of it as a system based on using a notebook with an index and rapid notations in short sentences. Each page has a title and a number. The notebook is divided into logs and future logs and collections which are pages dedicated to most any subject.

For example, I have a section called “books” where I jot down the titles of books that I want to read. I have another where I jot down marketing ideas. By using page titles, numbers and an index, I can easily retrieve my marketing ideas when I need them, and I always know what I am going to read next.

Writing something down has benefits too. It helps the memory and it forces us to think. I always enjoy putting an “x” in front of completed tasks. I also enjoy looking back and seeing that I have gotten some larger projects completed.

The bullet journal has worked well for me for business planning. I have two pages dedicated to my business plan for 2019, including my goals and the tasks I will need to perform to achieve those goals. It is a simple outline that I will use to plan business activities for each month.

The system is flexible and people of all ages and occupations (even students) can use a bullet journal to organize and plan school, work, hobbies, personal goals and literally anything else.

Go ahead and start a bullet journal. Use any old notebook and your favorite writing instrument. Try it out for a couple of months. Use the website for reference and experiment with your own “signifiers” and “bullets.”

The bullet journal website has on an outline that could easily be made into a presentation to share at your next sales meeting.

The bullet journal system can provide a framework for agents who are looking for systems and structures that can help them stay on track.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.

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