Even though my organization system mostly relies on my bullet journal, I also use some digital tools (planning apps and softwares) in addition to my notebook.
So today, I’m not going to show you my bullet journal, but I’ll tell you more about these digital helpers that are contributing to keep me on tracks and make my life easier. I find all of them to be very complementary to my bullet journal, but each for various reasons.
I added these digital planning tools to my organization system for 2 main reasons:
- the digital tools I use in addition to my bullet journal are (well most of themà online tools. They’re of a great help to store information that I can then access wherever I am (the only condition is to have some Wi-Fi available). As I’m working from various places (in my studio at home, but also from cafés or public libraries), it’s a feature I enjoy a lot. I honestly would have a hard time going backwards.
- I generally like to have some resources in a digital format, especially if I need to update them without starting again from scratch. These resources typically include my daily time blocking schedule and the mind maps I use to plan to manage some of my projects.
In my phone
My smartphone isn’t really reliable as the battery gets empty super fast, but I still use some apps on a daily basis to stay organized.
Forest is an app that is meant to help you to put down your phone and focus on your work. It’s also a great app to measure the time spent on a given task.
I was already talking about this digital tool in some of my previous posts. I mostly use Forest as a timer when I need the Pomodoro technique to boost my productivity. I tend to unlock my phone every 2 seconds when I have to work on something that I don’t really find interesting, just looking for an excuse to do something else.
So Forest is just the tool I needed to fight this bad habit I have. I usually set the timer for 25 minutes of work, just as prescribed in the Pomodoro technique. Once my tree is planted, I always feel too guilty to kill it… The app is just here to give me an external motivation that helps me to get started with my work. Simple and effective.
I have to confess that I use less and less Forest since I started to organize my work with the time blocking technique. But still, it’s a digital tool that’s perfect for the days I lack both motivation and energy to get to work!
Before I started to use Trello, I was fond of Asana, an other digital planning tool. It’s a software I’ve been using for several months when I was working as a project manager, and I loved how interactive and efficient it was!
But as I changed jobs, I had to adapt the digital tools I use to my new hustle. I said goodbye to Asana and started to manage some parts of my work with Trello. Trello’s a free planning tool. It’s based on the Kanban board planning technique (I was talking about Kanban boards over there).
Kanban boards are especially useful to manage projects that follow a recurring process with only small variations. The first step consists in splitting the process into steps. Then, you create a card for each project or task and put the labels you created in the Kanban board accordingly to the task/project status.
The Trello mobile app.
It’s a digital tool I use in addition to my bullet journal to manage the blog posts I’m working on. My workflow has 9 steps, from the moment I have a new blog post idea to the very end of the process (which is sharing on all social medias). This way, I can easily track my progress.
In addition to the web version that I regularly use (almost everyday actually), Trello also has a mobile app version. Even though I love using it on my desk computer, I usually update my boards on my phone. If I’m lucky enough to have some battery left, I jot down my blog post ideas directly in the app instead of writing them in my bullet journal first.
In the Cloud
Mind42 is an online platform that allows anyone to easily create dynamic mind maps.
It’s a digital tool I use in addition to the collections I create in my bullet journal when I want to start complex lists for my projects. It’s actually a tool that I only use for the most complex and challenging projects I have.
As Mind42 is an online (free) tool, I easily get access to my mind maps library wherever I’m working from. It’s also super easy to add new items to my maps or reorganize them as needed. I love how dynamic and intuitive digital mind maps are.
I don’t use Mind42 and mind mapping in general on a daily basis. But it’s one of the tools I love to use when I try to get organize for big projects or need to work on something without knowing where to start.
I use Google calendar for 2 different purposes, that are both essential to my organization system.
Even though my 2018 bullet journal features a future log that I love, I still use Google calendar to plan future events and appointments when I’m on the go. It’s just more handy than to pull my journal out of my bag and try to write neatly when I’m talking to someone in a hostile environment (hostile means here in the street or in the metro or… well you got my point!). It’s also of a great help when I don’t have my journal with me (usually because my purse is too small).
I review this digital version of my future log once a week when I’m planning for the week ahead. It’s the perfect moment for me to also update my monthly and future log as needed.
What my calendar looks like once all my tasks are scheduled.
I also use Google calendar as a time blocking tool.
I started to use this productivity method back in January and doing it on Google calendar works great so far. Once again, it’s the perfect tool to use in addition to my bullet journal to plan my work: after I set up my daily log, I use Google calendar to plan my tasks. It’s just as if I was setting appointments with myself to work on specific items from my to-do list.
It’s not really a productivity or a planning tool but using a cloud based tool to store all my work is one of the strategies that has helped me get my productivity to the next level.
I know Google Drive isn’t the perfect tool and has a lot of drawbacks, but for now, I’m still enjoying the advantages too much to quit Google drive.
When I’m working, I’m constantly between two computers (my desk computer and my laptop, not to mention my phone too) as I work from several places, depending on my mood. Having all the files I work on stored online is just what I need to avoid having to transfer everything from one computer to an other using flash drives. This way, I’m sure that I’m always working with the latest version of the file. I also enjoy a lot to be able to copy/paste text from my computer to my phone, as it makes the Instagram posting process so much easier!
Sharing information and files, creating dynamic resources or having the last version of my work on hands… I have to admit that I wouldn’t go back to a 100% analog planning system. All the digital tools I use help me to be more efficient and productive, and are very complementary to my bullet journal on many points.
That being said, my bullet journal is still the cornerstone of my organization system and I’m definitely not ready to let my notebook go!