Whether you’re a disorganized person or you revel in to-do lists and straight lines, using a bullet journal for work can help you prioritize the tasks that matter most. Continue reading to learn how bullet journaling can help you replace arbitrary to-do lists with intentional prioritization, as well as other adaptable organization techniques that will help you do your best work.
Why Is Being Organized Important At Work
Disorderly workers and chaotic methods can lead to a disorganized office. Let’s face it: managers, team leaders, and bosses of any kind like to see organized employees. An office where employees are always late, and files are constantly misplaced will struggle with efficiency.
Organization increases productivity, and it’s good for your wellbeing. Apart from the needs of your boss, being disorganized at work takes its toll on employees as well. If your boss asks you to locate something from a few years ago, do you panic? Are you always the last one to arrive at the meeting? Do you have so much on the go that some of your tasks get forgotten?
Being under the constant stress of disorganization is detrimental to your company, your coworkers, and your own health. Stress causes weight gain, hinders heart health, weakens the immune system, and causes irritability. Being organized at work reduces that stress because you know where everything is, exactly when you need to be somewhere, and precisely what’s due.
💡 Now, that’s not to say that disorganization is always bad. When you’re ideating, team building, or need to come up with your next big idea, a perfect mess could be just what you need to spark creativity.
What Does it Mean to be Agile?
Agile refers to an iterative and flexible style of working. The concept of Agile began in the software industry but has expanded to encompass a much larger approach of responding to change. When it comes to organizing, being agile is all about designing productivity methods that can adapt to suit your specific needs. The ability to customize adds freedom and flexibility to your to-do lists, calendars, and workflows, enabling you to do your best work.
Bullet Journals present a method for workplace organization that’s both customizable and adaptable.
Bullet Journal for Work
What is a Bullet Journal?
Bullet journaling is a system of rapid logging that aims to track the past, order the present, and design the future. A Bullet Journal is a plain notebook with a grid pattern. It’s used to intentionally manage and prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance. When paired with the Bullet Journaling system, a Bullet Journal helps people weed out distractions to use their time wisely.
Bullet Journals are extremely customizable, which makes them an ideal companion for anyone who wants to trade in busy work to focus on the tasks that matter most. Once you understand the system, you can set up your notebook as simply or as creatively as you’d like.
Bullet Journal System
A Bullet Journal runs on bullets, which are short form sentences (tasks) that pair with symbols (intentions). Keep in mind all of the symbols are customizable. We’ll outline the original Bullet Journal method introduced by Ryder Carroll.
Each incomplete task is denoted using one bullet. Bullet dots are used because they can cleanly transform based on the state of the task.
A complete task will receive an X through the bullet.
If you don’t complete a task, it’s no problem. Despite it being a paper method, the system is agile, so you can flexibly move tasks forward or back. For any incomplete task, you need to decide if you actually need to complete it and how urgent the task is. Consider how the task contributes to your larger goals, and if it’s worth rescheduling.
Move tasks forward to your next month or another list (Collection) by turning your bullet into a forward arrow >. This is called task migration.
Move tasks back (into your Future Log) to consider them at a later date by turning your bullet into a less than arrow <.
Migrating tasks ensures you only see what you need to get done on any given day and nothing more. You don’t want your to-do list crowded with a month’s worth of work or filled with tasks that aren’t essential to that particular day.
💡 More on Bullet Journal Migration from creator Ryder Carroll.
Rewriting tasks into the next month’s log or into a Future Log to be rescheduled is intentional. It makes you consider whether or not the task is worth your time and how urgent it is. What tasks are just noise to make you feel busy? What’s worth your time? What tasks contribute to your larger goals?
Bullet Journal Setup
Future Logs are essential to bullet journaling. They keep future tasks, reminders, and events out of sight and out of mind until they are needed. When you set up your journal, create a Future Log at the very beginning with a section for each upcoming month. You can put 2, 3, 4, or 6 months on each page depending on how much room you’d like to have for each month. Any task that’s not relevant to the current day, week, or month will go in your Future Log.
💡 For inspiration, view Future Log layout samples.
Monthly logs set up each month, giving you a full view of what’s to come for that particular month. There are a number of ways to set up a Monthly Log, but they generally consist of either a traditional calendar or a line calendar, along with specific to-do lists or trackers.
💡 For inspiration, view Monthly Log layout samples.
Daily Logs are where the productivity happens. You can set up Daily Logs one page at a time, or create a weekly spread that has a dedicated spot for each day of the week. Here you can get more specific with what you want to accomplish each day by pulling tasks, reminders, and events from your Monthly and Future Logs. If you finish a task, put an X through it. If you don’t complete a task, decide if you need to move it, and how soon it needs to be completed. Remember, you don’t need to outline all ongoing tasks in a Daily Log, only what you hope to accomplish in that one specific day.
💡 Learn more about choosing between Daily or Weekly Logs.
Collections are lists with a specific purpose. They are generally kept at the back of your Bullet Journal so you can add new ones as needed. You might have a Collection for books you hope to read, food you’d like to cook, or places you want to visit.
Using a Bullet Journal at Work
Bullet Journals help you prioritize tasks, which makes them an ideal workplace companion. The agility of the system lets you adapt with changing projects, clients, and busy seasons. They are completely customizable and easy to tailor to the needs of any job role or industry.
Use a Bullet Journal at work for:
- Daily tasks
- Monthly planning
- Yearly goals
- Client goals
- Event planning
- Tracking professional development
- Supply lists
- Meeting notes
The blank pages make the possibilities endless. Find what works best for you and continue to fine tune your methods. At its core, bullet journaling is all about replacing arbitrary to-do lists with intentional prioritization.
Agile Workplace Organization
How to Organize Trello or Asana For Work
Not everyone likes to rely on a pen and paper. Online tools give you access to tasks at any time from any device. Trello and Asana are both agile productivity tools that will help you stay organized online. They are designed for adaptability, giving you the freedom to make changes to your organizational system on the fly. Use either of these tools to keep track of tasks, streamline workflows, and improve productivity.
Trello and Asana Organization Tips
- Use color coding to denote different projects or clients
- Set due dates on tasks to see reminders for urgent deadlines
- Utilize in-app calendar features
- Remove or archive stagnant tasks
How to Organize a Binder For Work
Binders are a handy agile organization tool because the three-ringed opening makes it easy to add or remove pages. You can customize your layout using labels, dividers, and cover pages. Adjust your organization scheme at any time to add new projects, remove old clients, or to purge nonessential documents.
Binder Organization Tips
- Label the outside spine
- Date the top corner of binder pages
- Keep the most frequently used pages near the front
- Use dividers to sort by month, project, client, or urgency
- Use different colors and color-code your binders so you don’t mix them up
- Use binder clips to hold pens, cue cards, and other items without ring holes
To Do — Doing — Done (Kanban)
A To Do, Doing, and Done setup is a simple and effective method for visualizing the workflow of your current tasks. The three section layout lets you focus on one to-do at a time while giving an at-a-glance view of what’s upcoming and what you’ve accomplished so far. This method is also called "Kanban" or a “Personal Kanban" if you’re using it for your own tasks.
Use Post-its to create a to-do wall with labels To Do, Doing, and Done. As you complete a task denoted on a single Post-it, physically move the task along your own production line. Create a smaller version of this in a Bullet Journal, Notebook, or Binder using mini Post-its for tasks to move from one column to the next. Prefer to work online? Utilize this method using Trello with three Lists for To Do, Doing, and Done.
Kanban Organization Tips
- Limit the number of tasks in your Doing section
- Don’t begin new tasks until you’ve completed old ones (If you’re not working on the task currently, move it out if Doing and back into To Do)
- Change Post-it colors to denote different projects or clients
- Utilize color to illustrate urgency
Printable To Do Checklists and Resources
Need some templates to help you get started with bullet journaling? Enter your email address below for access to the following printable Kanban template, bullet journal key, and calendar design.
Printable To Do — Doing — Done (Kanban)
Use our printable Kanban template for a quick To Do, Doing, and Done setup. These printouts work best with mini Post-its. You can clip it into your binder, keep it on your desk, or hang it on a nearby wall.
Printable Bullet Journal Key
Print this Bullet Journal Key to help you learn the symbols of bullet journaling. Hang one up, and stick one into your Bullet Journal. We’ve left spaces you can use to fill in your own symbols.
Printable Monthly Bullet Journal Calendar
Print out a monthly calendar to see the days of the month at a glance. We’ve designed this spread to fit inside your Bullet Journal. Simply print it out and trim the edges before pasting it in your Bullet Journal. Avoid glue that may bleed through the pages and instead opt for double-sided tape or colorful washi tape. Calendars are tedious to design by hand, so save yourself some time with this monthly layout.
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