How the Bullet Journal cured Idea Overload Syndrome

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Last week I shared with members of my list that I suffer from Idea Overload Syndrome or as I like to call it IOS and I promised I’d share a few ideas on how I handle IOS.

Let’s dive in!

I’m an entrepreneur, and there’s never a shortage of ideas, projects or new software I’d love to try out in my business, but for all of those ideas I don’t have the time to get it all done.  sure I could outsource and manage many of the ideas, but it’s not how I want to spend my time either.

So how do I handle IOS?  I have a six step process to help me get in control of the IOS, I’ll share the first three today and then later this week I’ll save the rest.

If you are suffering from IOS, your first step is to recognize it for what it is, a lot of great ideas that need an opportunity to flourish.  Now some of these great ideas, will just sit and percolate but that’s as far as they go and that’s okay.

Others will sit there, drawing you in wanting you to do something fabulous with them and that’s okay too, but you need a way to harness them in and manage them.

Here’s what I do….

Create a catch-all: The way to a clear and focused mind that wants to spend it’s time on doing great things is to create a process that works for you to catch-all of your ideas, thoughts and even your tasks.

For some, having a digital catch-all makes sense, for others it’s pen and paper. I have discovered that for me, it’s pen and paper that works the best.  Since I launched my business in 2008 I have tried everything to capture my ideas, projects and tasks I have used WorkFlowy, EverNote, Producteev, ZenDone, Wunderlist, Any.do, Google Tasks. If there is a productivity app it’s likely I’ve tried it out and yet I always come back to my trusty pen and paper.

Sidenote:  If you prefer a digital format for this process by all means use it, this isn’t about a “MUST DO” way, it’s about finding a process that you will use consistently.

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My hybrid, digilog (digital + analog) process.

Here’s a few notes:

  • I have adapted my process from the Bullet Journal concept created by Ryder Carroll who is an Art Director & Interaction Designer in New York.
  • All of my appointments, recurring reminders & marketing calendar are kept in my calendar online.  I use Google Calendar with the Sunrise App. This is different from the bullet journal and what works best for me.

The bullet journal concept works on a daily process, but for me and my projects it works best for me on a weekly basis.  I prefer to keep things fluid and flexible, it’s how I’m building my business focusing on the week rather than a day-to-day works best.

At the beginning of each week (either Sunday evening or Monday morning) I review my calendar to see what appointments/calls I have for that week and I write them at the top of my week page, next comes the tasks or projects I’m going to focus on for the week.  I usually have 7 to 10 tasks that will be the focus for the week, I also keep a space for any new tasks that come along so I have a record of what extra work I did during the week.

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That’s it for my task management, after that I keep notes in my journal of what I’ve done, maybe follows up that need to be done (which are added to either my calendar or CRM process in EverNote).

(Okay, that’s not the complete truth, I do have a process that I use at the beginning of each month to set myself up for the month, but I’ll share that in a different post.)

Now what happens when I have a new idea, or a project that I want to work on, but either I don’t have time to work on it right now, or it’s going to take a bit more planning?

I add it to my catch-all (or master task list). When I have an idea for a new product or just about anything I simply flip to the back of my book and write a few line about it.   I then promptly forget about it, well not really but I know it’s been captured and I’m good to go.

Now what do I do with all those ideas?

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Here’s the thing for some of the ideas they still hang around in my head and tell me that I should be paying attention to them, if that’s the case I’ll usually pull out my catchall and create a page just for that idea or thought and write down what I’m thinking.

Like the bullet journal, I have an index and I write down any projects or collections on the index so it can be easy for me to find.

It’s also important to review the ideas to see if they are still relevant.  If not, cross them out and move on, if they are keep them there or create a project page in your catch-all process.

How this has benefited me and maybe it will for you too…

I discovered that using pen & paper over a digital process actually has me reviewing the ideas and taking action by either crossing them out as they are no longer valid or hashing it out and building a plan for implementation.  When I had this process set up in Workflowy (the closest I came to having it all digital), I found it was super easy to just forget the master list and not review it on a regular basis.

I’m more focused, productive and things are getting done.  I find when I do stray to try out a new shiny app, I’m less focused, I get off track and I lose what my purpose is for doing what I’m doing.

Maybe getting back to pen and paper will help you too?


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