Lately,  productivity has been on my mind. As I gear up for graduate studies, I’m trying to build a solid framework. Productive habits and good organization skills.

Four weeks ago, I posted about habits. My goal was to read Latin and Greek every day and post the results on my Twitter. Here’s how I’ve done so far:

Greek: 505 lines
Latin:  2,607

The disparity isn’t as great as it seems. In my Greek text, a line has twice as many words as the Latin. Still, it’s pretty obvious which I prefer — and which I’m better at.

I’ve had a lot of success when tethering the habit to a time and place. At first, I would translate whenever I found the time. I decided to make a routine: Greek in the morning, Latin of the bus ride to work. This made a colossal difference. As I’d hoped, the habits have become less onerous. Instead, I look forward to reading every day — it’s comforting.

I’ve also been building another habit: keeping a productivity journal. I’ve had a lot of stress lately: my first teaching job, packing up my house, preparing for grad school, maintaining this site. A friend of mine suggested I keep a planner. I kept one for a week, but soon transitioned to the bullet journal system. It’s a simple, adaptive way of organizing to-do lists.

How It Works

The bullet journal includes four basic modules an index, a future log, monthly log, and daily log.

The future log has a small box for every month. This is where you put tasks that won’t be due for a while. You’ll get them done, but there’s no need to pay them attention yet.

The monthly log contains a calendar for the current month. You’ll put in all your events and goals for the month here.

The daily log is a to-do list. You put all the events, tasks, and notes from the day in the daily log. Each category has a different symbol. Tasks, for example, have bullets, notes have hyphens, etc. This allows you quickly scan and tell what’s what.

Every month, you create a new monthly log. You migrate all uncompleted tasks from the previous month — provided they’re still worth your time. You also transfer any tasks from the future log over to the monthly spread.

The creator goes into more detail in the video below:

How It Boosts Productivity

I’m three weeks in and so far I’m loving it. My productivity has gone up tremendously. The biggest effect is that I’m more at ease.  Once I’ve written something down, I don’t need to constantly think about or recall it.  This helps me focus on what’s at hand.

As David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done” says “your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax.” A simple and clear to-do list goes a long way towards decluttering your mind.

The biggest drawback has been long-term planning. I suspect my grad-school life will be project-oriented rather than simple and discrete daily tasks. I’ve been exploring some bullet journal hacks to boost productivity.

If you’re interested in trying bullet journaling, I’d love to chat! Leave a comment below. If you have any suggestions for bullet journal mods, it’d be great to hear them.