I’ve spent nearly fifteen years working on the web, and have used computers nearly all my life. With that in mind, I recently stopped taking notes on my computer.
This is something I’ve struggled with, increasingly, over the last several years. As the technical lead / architect on projects, I am frequently the person leading technical discussions and driving meetings. This makes note taking awkward. Not only does it expose my notes (when I’m on a single screen) it means I am constantly typing as people are talking. Yes I’m a fast typist and I can keep up, but something about this process means that I tend to take spotty notes, and they don’t stick with me mentally as much as hand written notes.
I was leery about handwritten notes however. I have tried, and failed, to take handwritten notes for a decade (or more) professionally and as a way of generating notes for writing. Then! I came across bullet journaling.
I will be the first to admit, I am not nearly artistic (or patient) enough to really create a full blown bullet journal. But, there are a few tools that really make sense to me, and I wanted to share them here, even for a technology focused notebook.'
By FAR the biggest thing that has helped me, is an index. I can now extend and expand on previous ideas elsewhere in the notebook and then find them again. I know, right? What a revolutionary concept. Seriously though, this was a major blocker for me in previous notebooks.
Next, I use calendars and future logs to help track events and specific happenings. I color code everything (and these color codes align with the color codes in Todoist). So, I can transition tasks / activities out of the notebook if I don’t complete them daily into Todoist, so they can sync between my devices and I won’t lost track of them.
Finally, I just write. I keep a daily log broken out by meetings and times, so that I can easily scroll back through pages and find what I need.
It’s not searchable (unfortunately) but I have kept better notes since December than I have a in a LONG time. Plus, I remember things better writing and I find there to be something very satisfying about the action of flipping through pages that I have personally handwritten.
Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover Medium A5 Dotted Notebook
Pilot G2 Pens (I bought the 20 multi-color pack)
The cheapest ruler I could find
The pen ink does a pretty good job on the paper, I don’t have any bleed through (ever). I do get smearing a bit if I’m not careful.
I already have my next notebook (a blue one!) lined up for when this one is done. Well worth the effort!
As for the future? We’ll see. Right now I’m really enjoying this. The new tools (which I still find ironic, because and index is NOT A NOVEL CONCEPT) are really helping me keep up and find things. I’m doing due diligence in tracking important things in the future log and on my calendars so I can more easily find them. The color coding for events is seriously a life saver, as I can quickly flip back through the pages and find specific topics rapidly.
I’m all in on this handwritten note taking style (even if I hesitate to truly call it “bullet journaling.”