16 votes

Do you use a todo manager or something like a bullet journal? [My story of trying different planners for 4 months]

[LONG POST - 4 months of trying different planners)

I always wanted to use one but I never thought of analog (paper) planners and tried a lot of digital ones - link to a post.

About 4 months ago I saw my friend at school using a pocket diary - similar to this image, he was writing down his tasks on it (he didn't use it again). That day I bought a good pocket diary of around 200 pages, till date I've not used more than 10 pages and its still lying around.

I realised that I was not going to use it because it was very thick and I couldn't carry it in my pocket. I bought this pocket diary. This was thin and simple, perfect for me. I've used it the longest before switching.

Initially I used to dump all the tasks and cross it after completion, later I introduced a date system and it was one date for one page. I wrote down tasks for the day and crossed after completion if something was incomplete I migrated it to next day. This worked well but I needed a place to dump tasks that I had to do in future so I made a future section from backside and added tasks to it. This was the final tweak and I used it for like a month. I used it for daily tasks, future tasks, some notes and contacts (I used to make contact.txt before this).

Later IIRC I wanted to change because it was already half full and a mess because I was trying to do a lot with it. Next I mindlessly bought a notebook - something like this but with 5 sections, I didn't know what to do with it. I also don't remember why I bought it so I used it to write down stuff that I learned online and wanted to remember. It replaced my reddit save and I wrote what I wanted to remember, it is still with me and has been changed a lot (usecase).

I made a calendar on a single page of that notebook and tracked down basic stuff on it, I started using small square sticky notes to write down tasks and that's how I left my pocket diary. Not long after I lost interest in that notebook thing and updating calendar daily was not interesting. I left that and searched a lot online. Again tried a lot of digital options but I know it will never work for me so I left it and didn't use anything for like a day before I stumbled across Strikethru.

Strikethru is something like Bullet Journal. If you want to look at strikethru then see this video & this for Bullet Journal.

I took that notebook and turned it into a bullet journal, I used it for ~a week before trying strikethru and then again switching to bullet journal after a week. That was testing period and I chosed bulletjournal (bujo) over strikethru. That book was also thick so not long after I made a new bujo notebook (normal 200 pages). Again it felt like a big task that I had to do daily and I lost interest, I again restarted it with a new design. In this month I switched to different notebooks/design a lot and was never satisfied. I also tried Nextcloud tasks for 3 days before again trying out bujo.

Last year in december around a week before christmas I wanted to change it all so I went to a store and bought a new grid notebook (we used it for doing math in 1st grade). I used it for 10 days and everything broke during the last week of december, I was not at home and we went on a vacation. I took it with me but didn't update it because it was boring. It has been 5 days I was busy organising everything else again and now I've settled on what I started with (slightly better idea).

During that time I read a lot on nosurf, pornfree, internet addiction, sleep cycles, polyphasic society, tulpas, made new friends, tried a lot of todo managers, used different journaling apps and this is what I've decided to stay with.

I went to the store today to buy the same pocket diary that I've used the longest (1 month one). Its cheap, for 15 INR and works well for me. Over there I saw a box that said monthly planner, I took it and it had 13 small pocket diaries (similar to what I've used the longest but more thin) and with that a small case that would hold a notebook. There was one contacts pocket diary (perfect) and 12 pocket diaries one for each month. It was for this year and costed 170 INR, I didn't had money so I asked the storeman (idk what we call them, here we call them uncle) did he have cheaper option. He showed me the same piece that costed 140 INR but was for 2016, he said he would give it to me for 70 INR because he would have to throw it anyways.

I thought that was a great deal and bought it. So now I have 12 mini diaries for each month and one contacts diary that has my big list of 10 friends contacts. After trying a lot of different options I came back to what I used for the first time. Its simple and stupid & fits in my pocket.

It has one page for one day and I just have to cross 2016 and the day (mon, tue, etc.) thing and update it with 2019 days. In the middle it has a big two page calendar for current month, page before it has previous months small one page date list to write down events and on page after it has next months small one page date list. The last page is for notes and the cover has 2017 calender that I won't use and ignore.

Theres little patch work todo but for that price I think I bought a good set and if I actually use this for full year then I would buy a new one next one (for 2020 & not 2017 :|)

I've spent around 300 INR for all these (~ 4.5 USD)

Tl;dr -> Used a lot of systems and in the end switched to what I used for the first time which is simple and fits in my pocket.

# What do you use for managing your tasks? Do you use it daily?

15 comments

  1. [6]
    Adys
    Link
    Related topic I posted a while ago: https://tildes.net/~life/7yk/note_taking_bookmarks_reminders_and_todos_what_do_you_use_to_organize_your_life I ended up using Dynalist. I'm happy with the Free...

    Related topic I posted a while ago: https://tildes.net/~life/7yk/note_taking_bookmarks_reminders_and_todos_what_do_you_use_to_organize_your_life

    I ended up using Dynalist. I'm happy with the Free version, but here's a referral link for the paid one if you want to try it out: https://dynalist.io/invite/qrxHgQ -- it's the same features overall, with the added bonus of online backups and a couple of small QOL improvements.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      Avizini
      Link Parent
      I think that a paper planner is better than digital planner. I would've tried it once but it is an electron app and I have limited bandwidth, if I ever wanted to use a digital planner then I would...

      I think that a paper planner is better than digital planner.

      I would've tried it once but it is an electron app and I have limited bandwidth, if I ever wanted to use a digital planner then I would use Nextcloud Tasks or a simple text editor with todo.txt

      When do you plan your tasks? Is it a fixed time, like in the morning or do you grow the list throughout the day?

      1 vote
      1. Adys
        Link Parent
        It's a constant process. I go back to it whenever need to add something. My "tasks" tend to come throughout the day and I'm a big fan of doing them as they come, so a lot of context switching = a...

        It's a constant process. I go back to it whenever need to add something. My "tasks" tend to come throughout the day and I'm a big fan of doing them as they come, so a lot of context switching = a lot of writing down needed.

        I could never use paper. Digital all the way. I don't have to worry about forgetting it somewhere or anything. I use Dynalist for absolutely everything so I constantly need to refer back to it. Not the electron app, I just use a browser tab for it and on my phone I use the native app.

    2. mb3077
      Link Parent
      I also can attest to Dynalist. I started using the free version about a months ago when I saw someone here recommending it. It's been really helpful in keeping order and also memory retention. In...

      I also can attest to Dynalist. I started using the free version about a months ago when I saw someone here recommending it. It's been really helpful in keeping order and also memory retention.

      In my opinion though when it comes to journals or any other organizing methods, it's only as good as you make it to be. There's really not much difference between different methods. I personally think that a simple note pad with good customizable features is more than enough to help you keep order in your life.

    3. [2]
      bee
      Link Parent
      Just FYI your full real name is seen on the referral page.

      Just FYI your full real name is seen on the referral page.

      1. Adys
        Link Parent
        Thanks for the heads up. I don't mind though, this is a public identity.

        Thanks for the heads up. I don't mind though, this is a public identity.

  2. [3]
    unknown user
    (edited )
    Link
    I used Org mode for a long while, exporting to my Android Calenday through MobileOrg first, then org-caldav, then Syncthing (don't use it with your important data). It was nice, but I needed to...

    I used Org mode for a long while, exporting to my Android Calenday through MobileOrg first, then org-caldav, then Syncthing (don't use it with your important data). It was nice, but I needed to limit time I spent on computer because heavy procrastination and could not really use if effectively, so I decided dumping it when I found out about Bullet journal and encountered it again and again a few times later. I've been using something heavily inspired by Bullet journaling since six months (just switched to my second notebook for Jan-Jun 2019). The concept of having a weekly plan, daily scheduling, separate space for TODOs, etc. really clicked with me, and it's really helped me achieve some tasks that'd otherwise be lingering. I'll watch that Strikethru video, maybe I find something to incorporate into my process. At the end of the day it's all about finding out different stuff and amalgamating it to suit you the best.

    My notebook is roughly A5 paper sized, so it's not really pocketable. I generally take my backpack with me tho, so I can just stick the notebook in there. I have one normal sized backpack for when I carry heavy books, and a little textile sack pack (the one the guy on the right wears here, there's some stigma around men using sack packs like these or totes, but I couldn't care less) to just put this notebook, my wallet, phone, damn cables, and a smaller book. But if all I'm doing is to go for a walk, for shopping, or out w/ friends, I'll just leave it home. If there's something really important to remember during that time, I write it into the Simple Notes widget.

    My daily routine with this notebook: Wake up, get back to my senses, strike through the day for yesterday in the week plan, then strike it also in the month view page, skim through monthly todos while there, then check the weekly routine, and schedule from there. Getting the weekly routine down is crucial, if you ask too much of yourself, you may end up procrastinating more. It's been an iterative process for me, I have a lovely weekly plan these days. Also, I'm always flexible with what is not very important to get done on a certain day. I'm somewhere between a complete hedonist and some sort of Epicureanism, and I think I will never be able to fix that (luckily, I guess).


    Edit: so I did watch that video, and it was really interesting (also that Invidious site itself is interesting). Personally, I think I like the bullet journal's rewriting, because it gives me a chance to go really through it often, and the burden of rewriting, however stupid it might sound, helps me with not overallocating my time via scheduling too many tasks and making too many todos. Also, if I just referenced todo items like that, I'd never go back and check them, I guess. So seemingly not for me, and bullet journaling works for me nowadays, but if I need sth. new, I may reconsider Strikethru again in the future, I can see how it can be useful.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      Avizini
      Link Parent
      I loved the idea of bullet journaling and thats why I switched from my simple diary to it, doesn't that update process every morning feels like a work or do you enjoy doing that? I think I didn't...

      I loved the idea of bullet journaling and thats why I switched from my simple diary to it, doesn't that update process every morning feels like a work or do you enjoy doing that? I think I didn't actually use it for a long time and kept changing layouts, that made me lose interest in it. r/bulletjournal subreddit has many posts that focus on design/ layouts, for a few days I was doing the same later I visited r/bujo which is better. I might try it again in future.

      it gives me a chance to go really through it often

      yes if I rewrite them I have more chances of doing them & if something is getting migrated daily then I either drop it or do it at that moment.

      Can you share your version of bujo?

      Invidious is a frontend to youtube, it scrapes the website like newpipe (for android on f-droid). try it.

      1. unknown user
        Link Parent
        Well, neither. It's like going to the loo in the morning, and takes a minute or so. What's below is a long description, but this whole thing takes ~1hr for a new book every 6 months, ~15min for...

        doesn't that update process every morning feels like a work or do you enjoy doing that?

        Well, neither. It's like going to the loo in the morning, and takes a minute or so.

        Can you share your version of bujo?

        What's below is a long description, but this whole thing takes ~1hr for a new book every 6 months, ~15min for each month, and a minute or so per day.

        My layout is stable for the weekly planner pages, say for this month 1st week:

                 january 2018         /
                                      / 3 Thu
                                      /
        1 Tue                         / 4 Fri
                                      /
        2 Wed                         / 5 Sat -- 6 Sun
                                      /
        (1)                           /                       (2)
        ^page no                      ^fold line
        

        I treat the weekend as one day. The month planner, i.e. the two pages with all the days on the left and the month's todos on the right is just standard bullet journal way. The following are the initial sections and their page numbers:

        • Index (i, first blank page on the right hand side of the book): three parts: sections index, with page no. small roman numerals i...; months and montly budget list, page no 1...; other stuff index, which are random notes I take that are after the pages for the current month.

        • Weekly routine, a.k.a "7" (ii--iii): a table like the above, but it's a plan for a regular week, where preset tasks for each day are noted, w/ pencil b/c I can edit later. Weekdays for studying, also build emacs on Mon, shopping on Wed, laundry on Thu; on the weekend make a backup tarball (scripted), clean my room if necessary, then it's all leisure time. The key is to allocate the bare minimum here for each day. I don't have more than 4 items per day.

        • Readings (iv): A list of long reads I'm currently doing. Not really useful, but it's a three item list for me, so can stay there.

        • Shopping (v): Shopping list of items that are not immediately needed, but I could buy when I have some excess money. (e.g. includes "bike (electric?)", "a better phone", etc.).

        • Each month (vi): Things to do at the beginning of each month. I have two main items (three, but the first two are similar) here: what's on on some particular cinemas I like, and a recipe for making the new month's journal, which includes: move todos, look through last month, check "6" (which is coming in a bit).

        • Each year (vii): yearly stuff like birthdays.

        • Next agenda (viii--ix): Notes for the next Bullet Journal, like events that will come up after the scope of this agenda (this one is Jan-Jun, if I had something on next July, I'd put it here).

        • Six months, aka "6" (x--xi): A table for todos or scheduled tasks for each month in this journal. I use one notebook per 6 months, so this section includes 6 months, and that's where the name comes from.

        • Processes, aka "proc" (xii-xiii): Recipes for some tasks. Currently includes the recipe for the "What are you reading these days" posts on ~books, and the recipe for my backups.

        • Minus pages index (xiv--xv) and the Minus pages: This is a new idea and IDK if it'll work out, but because I had many empty pages left in the last book, I though I'd use the pages from the wrong end of the book for some purpose, and I came up with this idea where I transcribe some lists I had starting from the last page and going bacwards, and numbering the pages w/ negative numbers. Currently, I have my list of books to be bought in there. In order to ease lookup, I want to make an index where I list the letters and note on which page they occur. I'll only count the first word's initial for titles, and for authors' surnames. The index is at the beginning of the book because I had a few pages I left empty before the first month just in case, and the initial index I made at the end of the book did not work out (I grouped the letters in groups of 4 & 5, turns out quickly becomes useless).

        • The start of the agenda, the succession of month planners, intermingled with notes pages. Each month has a budget page which I don't really care about currently (but I will when I start working or luckily get a scholarship for my upcoming masters). Notes can be anything, but they get a title, and get written to the Index.

        That's too many things, but I only regularly use the month planner and "7". If I find that I postpone a task too many times, I move it to monthly todos and forget about it, unless it's something really important. My daily routine is: look at today, glance the week, strikethrough yesterday, look at the month, glance todos, schedule if necessary, strikethrough yesterday here too, check "7", schedule whats needed (I assign tasks one-word names like "estudar" for studying, "1pt" for portuguese excercises, "tabocide" for looking through my read-it-later bookmarks, etc.; I add little descriptions besides their first appearance in "7"), done. I've also nicely added tabs to each important page so that I can navigate the notebook w/o losing any time to go back and forth to&from the Index.

  3. nsa
    Link
    I'm developing my own. It's a procedural spaghetti code mess, but it works for me. I make it on the LAMP stack so I just host it on my VPS and add features as I need them. My main goals was...

    I'm developing my own. It's a procedural spaghetti code mess, but it works for me. I make it on the LAMP stack so I just host it on my VPS and add features as I need them. My main goals was something simple that I could easily identify what I needed to do now at a glance.

    2 votes
  4. [3]
    tn5421
    Link
    I'm usually pretty good at keeping track mentally but use my phone's notepad to keep track of the most important stuff anyway. I figure if I'm gonna have my phone on me 24/7 anyway, it might as...

    I'm usually pretty good at keeping track mentally but use my phone's notepad to keep track of the most important stuff anyway. I figure if I'm gonna have my phone on me 24/7 anyway, it might as well be useful.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      Avizini
      Link Parent
      I would do the same, either simple todo.txt or the nextcloud tasks app. I don't use a smartphone and my phone has that old style abc keyboard which would take a lot of time. Moreover I cannot...

      I would do the same, either simple todo.txt or the nextcloud tasks app. I don't use a smartphone and my phone has that old style abc keyboard which would take a lot of time. Moreover I cannot backup those notes from my device and I don't carry my computer with me so small pocket diary is the best option for me.

      Do you ever forget something? If I try to remember a lot I don't concentrate completely on the task I am doing right now and I tend to forget them if I don't write them, I carry post it notes with me for temp list.

      Do you plan your day early morning or tackle those as they come?

      1. tn5421
        Link Parent
        I tackle my day as it comes. I do forget things. If I think something is important enough, I make a note of it. The only planning for things I do is usually days in advance, which i'll have a...

        I tackle my day as it comes. I do forget things. If I think something is important enough, I make a note of it. The only planning for things I do is usually days in advance, which i'll have a note+alarm for.

        1 vote
  5. tomf
    Link
    For me, I use Org-Mode for VSCode for my day to day computer related tasks. For everything else I have a thick notepad (3" x 3") -- I use one sheet per day and track anything non-computer related...

    For me, I use Org-Mode for VSCode for my day to day computer related tasks. For everything else I have a thick notepad (3" x 3") -- I use one sheet per day and track anything non-computer related on there (shopping lists, phone calls, outgoing packages, etc.)

    For larger things that I need to track I use Google Sheets. I've got trackers for everything from media I consume / want to consume (all data is pulled in with APIs using either the IMDB ID or the title itself), a headache tracker that also pulls in weather, where I also track different attempts to get rid of the headache (medication, diet, etc), and so on.

    I tried using a big journal and all that for a time, but I just don't want to carry that much around with me. I was also using some note / todo lists that worked with my Pebble watches, but ultimately I went back to paper.

    At the end of each day, anything left undone on my paper notes gets transferred to the next day's note. I start the following day's note before I go to bed.

    1 vote
  6. Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    I use a simple to-do app in my phone. It's not complicated. It doesn't synchronise with a hundred other apps. It doesn't update my calendar. It doesn't cross-reference my contacts. It doesn't back...

    I use a simple to-do app in my phone. It's not complicated. It doesn't synchronise with a hundred other apps. It doesn't update my calendar. It doesn't cross-reference my contacts. It doesn't back up to the cloud. It doesn't make coffee! It just records tasks. That's all I need: a simple list of the things I want to remember to do.

    I add a task to the app, put a reminder on it if I want a notification at a particular time, then save the task. When I've completed a task, I mark it as "done" or delete it.

    I also have my Google calendar for appointments/events/parties (although I installed a calendar app to go over the top of it because I really dislike Google's user interfaces).

    That's it.

    1 vote