Minimalist Bullet Journal

I love my Bullet Journal and I’ll be writing about it a bunch in February. I’ll be covering my whole personal productivity and task management workflow in fact.

Anyway, this is a great video looking at a fairly minimal Bullet Journal. One without a whole bunch of art all over that I’ll never come close to producing.

Key items I liked

  • don’t worry about making it “the best”
  • mood tracker
  • 10 blocks is interesting. I do something similar in blocking my days into 3 hour chunks. I plan a 3 hour chunk for a specific set of tasks

Thanks to Shawn Blanc for pointing this out.

Fighter Pilots, Decision Making and The OODA Loop

I’m going to harp on the only skill that a freelancer needs that will stay useful is good decision making.

To that end, you need to go read this excellence article on the OODA loop at Farnam Street.

I need to write about this at length to make sure that I’ve solidified my learning on it1, but for now the four parts are.

  1. Observe
  2. Orient
  3. Decide
  4. Act

Now, go dig deeper at Farnam Street.


  1. Yes lots of my writing is to solidify my own learning so that I can be better. You just get benefit as a side effect. 

Overwork is NOT A Badge of Pride

Overwork has become the norm in many companies – something expected and even admired. Everything we do outside the office – no matter how rewarding – is quietly denigrated. Relaxation, hobbies, raising children or reading a book are dismissed as laziness. That’s how powerful the mythology of work is. – Do you work more than 39 hours a week? Your job could be killing you

Years ago I wrote that an all-nighter is only a sign that you’re an idiot. You do them because you can’t say NO. You do them because your rates are too low and thus you can’t earn what it takes to keep your business running.

In short, it’s your fault if you run your own business.

So, the article quoted above hits home taking this overwork thing out of just freelancers and into the greater world of work. When I review Rest, I got to learn something I had heard before. We’re only productive for around 4 hours a day. Anything over that is mostly just butt in chair time and stressful.

The maximum my work week can be is 38 hours by the time I take out the family commitments we have. That’s no bathroom breaks. No runs after 6am.

Needless to say it doesn’t happen. I get around 30 hours in the office in a week and still produce lots of valuable work.

You can do it. The key question that I ask myself every day is “What is the single thing I can do today that will make the rest of my work easier or irrelevant?”

Then I do that thing ignoring everything else.

GTD Primer from Evernote

I don’t quite do Getting Things Done, but it’s close. The biggest thing I take exception with is writing down all the crap in your head. So much of it doesn’t matter and then you end up carting it around.

This is how many people git to 55 projects with 4000 tasks that they never want to look at so they don’t review.

I’ll be writing more about this in February.

But, if you want a quick primer on GTD, the Evernote blog has a good one.

Better Defaults with @chrisbowler

As they say regarding productivity, create better defaults. Add friction to distracting activities. Make it easy to start the tasks that matter. Soon, habits will form. – Better Defaults

Regarding email first thing, I took it off my phone so I can’t check it.

I also don’t check email until after I’ve done my big main tasks for the day.

Today being sick, don’t expect an email response at all. I might get to it tomorrow.

A great way to help you get better defaults is to ask yourself “What is the one thing I can do today to make the rest of my business easier or irrelevant?”

I do that every day and so many times it has nothing to do with email or what others think is important for me at all.

A Worse Phone Breaks the Addiction

In an effort to break my smartphone addiction, I’ve joined a small group of people turning their phone screens to grayscale — cutting out the colors and going with a range of shades from white to black. – Is the Answer to Phone Addiction a Worse Phone?

I know that when iOS 11 basically made my iPhone 6s Plus so slow as to be a brick, I felt it was a great time to use it less. I did end up wiping it and reinstalling from scratch because typing a three letter message took 5 minutes.

But in that process, I didn’t put any social media on it. I can’t check anything. I don’t have email and when I found myself going to my site stats, I just deleted them.

So yes, for me one of the best things I’m doing to stay away from my phone is to have a worse phone that has a battery which dies quickly and is slower.

I could even spend the money for a new phone, but I can’t afford the time I used to waste on my phone.

This is also one of the main reasons I purchased a kindle paperwhite. It’s a terrible device for anything but reading. So all I can do is read.

Thanks to @patrickrhone for the link.

How we integrate kids into life from @bookwormfm

Your job as a parent is to build a good adult. Mike and Joe get into this on a recent episode of Bookworm as they talk about 168 Hours.

Specifically they talk about involving kids in stuff like passing you screws or helping around the house.

You should be getting your kids involved. Stop saying no when what you mean is that it’s not convenient.

The whole episode isn’t about kids but it was all good. Go listen.

The Wall Street Journal and Analogue Productivity

I’ve never tried iCal. I use Google Calendar at work of course—refusing to accept co-workers’ meeting invites would be confusing and rude—but the idea of reducing the rest of my life to tiny cells on my phone screen fills me with dread. – Paper Planners in the Digital Age

Just like Florsheim, I’m all in on analogue productivity. For me it’s a Bullet Journal instead of a day planner.

The only thing I use digital tools for is collaboration with clients. For that I use Trello.

The big draw for me is that no one but me can add anything to my calendar or task list. My wife can’t put anything on it, like she used to when we had a shared task list.

The repetition of writing things down during the migration phase in Bullet Journal helps filter what tasks are important and what are only things I wish I could do.

I eliminate so much more and make so many fewer commitments on behalf of future me, which was always a problem with OmniFocus. I’d bump a due date a month into the future, and still not have the time to do the task.

So I’d kick the can further down the road.

If this whole analogue productivity thing with Bullet Journal sounds like something you’re interested in, watch for February. I’ve got about 40k words coming on how I do everything from planning to goal setting and client management.

Last Call to Plan Your Year with @shawnblanc

One of the sites I’ve been reading for years has been Shawn Blanc’s. Good thought provoking content.

Over the holidays he released Plan Your Year which is a course and worksheets to help you have a good plan for the year.

I bought it and went through it with my wife. Good stuff.

Today is the last call for access so Plan Your Year.

PS: Yes I’ve done code work for Shawn. Yes I paid for the course. No I don’t get any affiliate income.