A majority of my career I’ve been an individual contributor and I’ve been lucky to work at companies that value heads down time. Since a majority of my work was on the computer, it made sense that I should keep my notes on the computer too. It was easy to track down design mood boards and code snippets that way. Of course, I’ve fiddled with which app would best suit my needs. I’ve dabbled with Evernote, written a lot in IA Writer, taking great notes in Bear. Each has its pluses and minuses, and each served me well.
These notes all helped me remember something later. To recall details that I would otherwise forget.
As I made the transition to a manager and salesperson, I saw my schedule start to fill up with meetings. In-person one on ones, sales calls, and interviews for our open design positions have taken up a majority of my time instead of that heads down work. Each one of these started to blend together, details got mixed up or forgotten. I began to see another need for notes. I went back to the apps that had done me well in the past. It seemed only natural that they would solve this newfound problem. Instead, I found myself being more distracted by taking notes on my computer and struggling to keep up in those meetings.
I found my way to writing things down on paper and started to see how impactful it was. The notes enhanced my focus in the meetings instead of making me away from them. I found that I was able to recall most of the meeting without needing to refer back to my notes. Things started to feel better and just a little saner.
But I took down too much detail, things that I wouldn’t need a reference back to. I noticed that I started to get careless in bring my tasks taken from meetings notes to my task manager. I wasn’t following up or doing the things that I needed to get done to be a good manager, leader or salesperson.
I realized the need for a stronger system. I had seen a couple people extol the bullet journaling system successfully for notes and tasks, and after using my notebook for notes, I wanted to give it a shot.
After being strict with bullet journaling for a while, I’ve eased down and have chosen the aspects that I think help me the most. I found that I could be leaner with how I record things, that I was the only one that would look back at them and I only needed to write down things that would jog my memory.
I don’t keep up with an index, one of the more core tenants of bullet journaling. I found it hard to remember to do and relatively useless. I realized that I hardly ever look back more than a few pages. I keep lists to do in the back of my notebook, but I don’t do many of the logs commonly found in a bullet journal. This way I don’t need a special notebook with multiple bookmarks and can keep.
My notes and tasks system is something that has always been evolving to meet my needs. I love looking back and seeing how my systems have changed and what has worked and note worked with each of them. I have realized that the more that I physically write the better I’ll remember it later. I feel like my memory across other areas has been better as well, but that could be circumstantial.
Looking back, the one thing that has changed the most is that now I take most of my notes as something to remember now, something to reinforce the tasks I need to do now, not necessarily something to remember later.