Towards the end of last year I started a new job. After months of developing my bullet journal skills for my personal life, I couldn’t imagine trying to switch back to a regular day planner for work. Being the newbie, I was hesitant to ask for a Leuchtturm1917 right off the bat, so I decided to just bite the bullet (lol, bujo puns) and buy one out of my own pocket. I took it as an investment because I knew I would be able to keep track of all the new things I had to learn going in, making me a better employee.
I’ve been working with my work bullet journal for a few months now, and wanted to share how I’ve adapted the system to a part of my life I spend 40+ hours a week at. I knew right away that the Dotted notebook I am using for my personal journal was not going to be the right fit, so I decided to go with a Grid notebook instead. My work journal is 100% function over form, so keeping a cleaner page for color and doodles and the like wasn’t necessary.
When I started I had to make a decision on the tracking symbols I was going to use. In my personal journal, I use a dot for tasks, an open circle for events, and a dash for notes. I put a v over completed tasks and events and a > for migrated ones. I like the aesthetic of this, it fits well for my personal bullet journal, but I knew I wanted something a great deal more visual for work. I wanted to be able to see exactly what items were open, closed, canceled, or migrated.
I decided to take some inspiration from more traditional bullet journaling keys. A square for tasks, a circle for events, and a dash for notes. Instead of keeping them small for aesthetics, they take up an entire square on the grid. It’s all about the visual impact here. For completed tasks and events the square or circle get filled in. When an event or task is canceled an X goes in, and an arrow covers migrated tasks.
The only auxiliary symbol I use in my bullet journal is an !. This is used rarely, but goes in front of any task that needs to be done right away. It usually makes it’s way in during a meeting where I learn a task needs to be addressed right after. I add the exclamation point signifier just to make sure I remember exactly what needs my attention when I sit back down at my desk. You wouldn’t believe how many times I can get stopped and asked things on the short walk between a conference room and my work-space.
Both the Dotted and Grid Hardcover notebooks come with two page markers. I don’t use these in my personal journal at all, but have found them very useful in my work journal. As tasks get completed, I move the striped ribbon to the oldest open task. The solid black ribbon sits at my current daily entry. This system works great for me because there are too many tasks to constantly migrate forward. I’d be halfway through the book if I migrated incomplete tasks everyday.
To help consolidate the open items, I do migrate open tasks forward once a month. I have a tendency to leave about one low priority item open per page because I just can’t get to everything right away. This way I keep my ribbons moving forward, but I’m not using too much space. Otherwise my striped ribbon would still be on the first page!
Along with my daily entries that manage my meetings, trainings, notes, and tasks, I also utilize full pages for lengthier notes, project management, lists, and guides. By dedicating a full page, I can often track things over time without running out of space or having information across several different pages. I can also utilize it for notes that are more than a line or two, so my daily entries don’t take up too much space. Training is a big part of my job, and having a guide that I can always flip to for a particular training allows me to make sure I always cover all the necessary topics.
To keep track of these individual pages, I utilize my index. None of my daily entry pages end up in my index, keeping it clean and easy to find what I’m looking for. This is important for me because each page in my work journal looks pretty much the same. I don’t have as much need in my personal journal for the index, because everything is prettier, tabbed, and easy to distinguish.
While that sums up the inside of my work bullet journal pretty well, I also utilize some extra spaces. I added a pen loop inside the back cover. I was hesitant to order this, but it saves my life running around work. I always have a pen right there, and I don’t really have to worry about leaving it somewhere or dropping it. It always goes right back in its place and doesn’t move until I need it again.
I also use the back pocket, a feature of all Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, to house my business cards. I don’t carry a wallet everywhere I go, and my card keeper always gets forgotten on my desk. Stashing a few cards in my bullet journal, which never gets left behind, ensures I always have one when I need it.
Overall, I love that I jumped right in using a bullet journal at my new job. I can easily look back at what tasks and projects I’ve completed, my notes are all in one place, and I have it set up so I always know what actions are open and need my attention. My brain can only store so much information and my bullet journal is there to pick up the slack so I never miss a beat.