My super organized life is all managed electronically over the internet, and the system works pretty well, I have to say. But recently I have made a change in the way I manage my business. Here, I share why I use a bullet journal.
As a systems nerd, I definitely live in a digital world. I love all things electronic and easily accessible. That is probably why one of my favorite tools is Asana for keeping me on task and on time. I also live and die by my Google Calendar and still have most of my clients schedule their meetings through Calendly.
But as I have added more to my plate – more service lines, larger projects with clients, and also just managing the turmoil of having three kids (the oldest about to turn 7!) I realized that while I know where to be and what to do on a daily basis, I didn’t have a clear picture of my business and life as a whole.
This is where the systems start to fail. My programs and processes manage the “how” but the “why’s” become a little fuzzy. I am such a visual learner that sometimes things just appearing on my calendar or automatically showing up on my task list don’t always “internalize.” I started to do things on autopilot, but sometimes the nuances of prioritization and the creative process started to diminish.
I realized what was missing was that I wasn’t truly connecting with what I was doing, I just did what my systems told me to do. While this makes me hyper-efficient, it also removes some of the human element to what I do as a business owner. I started to lose the connection, and I needed to start to re-connect with all the things I was doing on a consistent basis – and look at the big picture a little more closely.
I decided that I needed to go back to analog, just a little. So I got myself a grid notebook and began to bullet journal again. It is a relatively simple but infinitely customizable way of managing all the things in your life and just processing them as you take the time to write things out. I have a few things I keep track of in my journal but wanted to explain how I keep a clear picture of my week.
On a weekly basis (usually Monday morning) I list out first the clients that are currently on deck that are in various stages of completion. I keep track of specific tasks in my Asana, but I want to keep a running list of active clients so that I don’t lose track of them. I have a line before their name that I use to make note if I have worked on their project (✔️), completed the tasks for the week (X), or if I have connected with them on a status update (O). This ensures that everyone has gotten touched by me on a weekly basis. If I have not, I mark them with an arrow to go to next week’s list (>).
Next, I list out maintenance clients. Those who don’t have an active project, but have requested updates or fixes. I again use the same system to note if they are being worked on, completed, connected with, or pushed to the following week.
Third, I list out consultations for the week. These are people who have scheduled paid consultations with me. I use this to see how many consults I had or have booked in a week (which is also kept on my lead tracking spreadsheet, but I like to have a visual, which is very motivating!).
Fourth, I list out my marketing and business development for the week. This includes posts I need to write, products or offerings I need to promote, to confirm if I am staying on top of my social media and other marketing, and also as a space for brainstorming.
Fifth, I list out assessment calls that are scheduled for the week. This again is more of a motivational tool, keeps me clear on how many people are booking, and I also note if they convert to a client (X) or if they schedule a consult (✔️).
Last but not least, I write out any issues that cropped up during the week or other notes that are important for my business. While again, these all get managed electronically, it is good to see when things cropped up and if they are in relation to clients, consults, assessments, marketing or other.
While everyone has different ways to manage their business, I have found that the act of writing out my week, and also updating my weekly overview daily has drastically improved my efficiency. It also means that things aren’t slipping through the cracks, as I have a reminder that is separated out from my “to do list” that I need to connect with my clients consistently. I also get to see how some of my marketing is paying off by having a list of assessments and bookings. Just the act of writing it all out has made me better at what I do.
While the bullet journal is great, there are some other great journals out there. I like the Powersheets Journal for goal setting. Ponderlilly Journals have some interesting prompts (visit, meet, try, support), the Productivity Planner helps you prioritize, and the Panda Planner is about accountability. It may take a few tries to find the right mix for you, but I guarantee if you spend some time each day or week with pen and paper, you will start to see that you have a better connection with your business, and even find that you are more productive.