Posts tagged #planning

Bullet Journaling for Peak Productivity

A paper planner can be a powerful tool in the digital age. The market for planners certainly offers a wide varieties to meet your individual needs. What works for me has been the infinitely flexible Bullet Journal. The system, created by Ryder Carroll, has transformed the lives of creatives, professionals, and overwhelmed multitaskers.

Why would I go back to paper when so much of my life is managed using my phone? For one thing, the act of writing helps me remember what I wrote. Research suggests that writing by hand engages the brain’s motor pathways, expanding the connections between what you intend to do and your working memory. Have you ever written a grocery list and then left the list at home, but you remembered what was on it? Writing it out helped you.

Bullet journal

Another reason I love planning on paper has to do with the picture superiority effect, which means that our memories have better recall with pictures than words. I don’t get too fancy with my layouts (check out Instagram and Pinterest for some super creative inspiration), but I do mix up my utilitarian style by changing colors schemes each week. The colors transform the week’s information into a mental picture, making it easier for me to remember the notes I’ve taken in my notebook.

So with science backing up the power of paper planning in recall and working memory, what is the Bullet Journal exactly? First, I recommend going directly to Ryder Carroll’s tutorial to see his process for “rapid journaling” to basically dump all of the thoughts from your brain onto the page, and then later track what’s been done. He has also just released a book on using his system that you can check out if so inclined.

The main features of the Bullet Journal system that attracted me:

  • A dot grid journal with numbered pages

  • Blank pages - no pre-printed pages that I won’t use taking up space

  • Index for tracking what goes where in the journal

The major reason my Bullet Journal works for me is that I keep everything together in one place: my to do lists, my meeting schedule, plus notes for personal and professional happenings. The pages are numbered and I keep track of what’s where by filling in the index as I go through the year. Because the pages aren’t pre-filled out, my meeting notes are adjacent to the current weekly planning layout.

Pro Tip: I have categories for my index, such as my list of months, meeting notes for the Wilbanks Consulting Group, meeting notes for another organization, and my personal-related notes. Keeping these together in my index makes it so much easier to find what I need!

With some experimentation, I’ve figured out that I am most productive when I use a Gantt-style task list that faces my weekly schedule on the next page:

Bullet Journal

Guess what I never use? The monthly calendar page. Since I don’t use this type of page, I don’t include it in my journal. The great thing about the blank dot grid pages is that whatever you need a page to be, it can serve that purpose.

In today’s world, I’ll never operate without my electronic devices. But the truth is that I’m so much more productive when I pair my digital life with the power of paper planning.

Posted on November 13, 2018 and filed under Career.

Planning for Emergencies at Work


It’s been an incredibly tough couple of weeks as Hurricane Harvey ripped through Houston, leaving so much destruction in its wake. Everything from homes to businesses to parks and roads have been destroyed or damaged. Some lost everything, others were fortunate to have gotten through with minor roof leaks and a few days without electricity. Holly’s family is among the fortunate - thank you to everyone who sent prayers, positive thoughts and support in various forms. It’s appreciated more than you know!

Emergencies can come in many forms: weather, natural disasters, family situations, health scares, and more. While family and friends’ safety is priority number one during emergencies, some workplaces must remain open. Hospitals, nursing homes, fire stations, police departments, and places of hospitality are a few examples. If you work at one of these establishments - thank you for your hard work in the midst of emergencies! The world would have a much harder time getting through the tough stuff without you to keep us afloat when things are dire.

Whether you work in a place like those mentioned above or somewhere else (corporate or research, for example), working through the emergency may be the best way for you to cope with the situation. For example, if a hurricane hits and you’re in no immediate danger but stuck in the house, working from home can help pass the time and provide a sense of normalcy. Depending on the type of emergency, you may or may not be able to continue work. But if you can, and want, to continue working, there are ways you can be prepared for when and if the time comes.

Here are a few ways you can plan for emergencies at work:

  • Keep all of your workplace website URLs in a handy spot to access away from work. Using a password manager, like Lastpass, is a great way to do this. It’s a cloud based system that securely saves URLs, usernames, and passwords.

  • Ask about the servers at your workplace. Are they compatible to work with hotspots? If so, you can work from your phone’s hotspot while stuck at home without wifi. Check with your phone company beforehand to determine any fees and charges that may apply.

  • Invest in a portable charging station. As long as your device has a cable that connects to a USB, they can charge without needing an outlet. Many charging stations have enough juice to charge multiple devices many times before being drained. These are great for use in hospitals, as many facilities don’t allow you to use their outlets. Of course, if your power is out, an outlet does you no good and these can keep you up and running for at least another day or two.

  • Save important work contacts in your phone. Your direct supervisor, clients, and closest co-workers are the best to be easily accessible. If something comes up and you need help (or they do), it will be easy to contact them.

  • What else is absolutely vital for you to be able to work away from the office? Determine what those items are and come up with a plan to access them when needed.

Of course, it’s always possible that an emergency can happen while you are AT work. Check with your HR department to learn what emergency preparedness plans are in place so you are aware.

No one thinks that an emergency is going to happen to them. It’s better to be safe than sorry, as the old saying goes. Make a plan and hope that you never have to use it.

Have anything else to add to the list above? We’d love to hear from you! Comment below with your additions.

Posted on September 20, 2017 and filed under Career.