Looking Out To Sea

Sprinting faster than a speeding bullet journal

I stumbled across bullet journalling recently, and became quickly fascinated with the system as I understood it. I have not used it for anything, and I suspect that I might never use it in its fullest sense. But some of the core ideas hidden in there are really great. But I’ve not seen them written about explicitly and separately from the Bullet Journal Method (Tee Em) so I wonder if other people care, or find this fascinating?

When I have played with notebooks I have always had a terrible fear about not leaving enough space for things. This is the first thing which bullet journal solves. It encourages you to number pages as you use them, then put entries in an index. If one entry is split across two page runs, you just put them both in the index. Or you can just put a mark at the bottom of the page to indicate that this entry continues on page X.

All those notebooks I have with chunks of blank space between useful items and the answer was so obvious.

This system of indexing and cross-referencing of page numbers is the start of the real underlying power of bullet journalling. It allows you to use the capacity of the book to the fullest and discourages wasted pages. It is reminiscent of the way computers allocate data, which leads me into my next thought.

In order to minimise wastage in bullet journalling it encourages a just-in-time system. You allocate each day’s entry-space as you get to it, instead of drawing boxes for each day a week in advance. You may never use those boxes.

Each day you can score off completed items or move unfinished ones to the following day or “later”. Each month you can do the same. These stages of stopping and copying are also reminiscent of computer memory management, by creating a new day, week or month out of the half-relevant remnants of the previous one.

Between pointers, memory pools and garbage collection there’s a lot in a Bullet Journal that should be familiar to the computer scientist. I wonder if there’s anything else that’s been invented for data management inside our machines that’s similarly valuable with pen and paper.

The title comes from the transfer of tasks from one day to the next, or pushing them to a log to be examined later. In bullet journaling it’s called the “future log”… but if you imagine each day as a Sprint the same thing is called a Backlog under the Agile system.

Is Bullet Journal an application of Agile management applied to your own life, using the machinery of garbage-collected memory management on the underlying notebook? Would it help anyone if I told them it seemed like it. I have not examined these thoughts in the closest of detail but the notions entertained me greatly.