Everyday Tools for Library LeadersOK—here’s the deal: as you probably know, my podcast launched on Tuesday—and if you missed that, here’s where you can go to check it out. Not to bore you with a bunch of podcast inside baseball, but there’s this thing in iTunes called New and Noteworthy that can help people interested in a show’s topic find it more easily. Broadly speaking, the more downloads, listens, and ratings you get over the first 6-8 weeks of your show, the more likely you are to rank as New and Noteworthy and the more people will see and subscribe to you. For that reason, I’ll be putting out my podcast weekly through the end of August before I settle down into my long-term every other Tuesday pattern. However, that means I’ll have less time for the kinds of long, ranty blog posts I’ve indulged in lately. I thought about hitting pause on the blog, but didn’t want to do that either. For some odd reason you all seem to like reading what I have to say. 😉 So here’s the deal—through the end of August (barring major breaking news I just have to write about) I’ll be doing short, sweet posts talking about my favorite resources and tools for staying organized and sane(-ish) as a library leader. I hope to introduce you to some cool stuff!

Today’s resource: The Bullet Journal

I am one of those people who has to have an up-to-date list of all commitments or I will go mad. (I reserve the right to go mad anyway, but the odds go down substantially when I’m writing things down). This year has had a lot of moving parts, some of which were a surprise, some of which I knew about WELL in advance but underestimated the scope of. For that reason, lists are more important for me right now than they have been in a long time. Fortunately, I have my Bullet Journal, a creation of Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer living in Brooklyn, NY. It’s a simple daily logging system that can work with any notebook, though I actually use a special one that I’ll talk about in a later post in this series. Simply put, by marking every task, note, or event in your life with a special symbol (or “bullet”), you can track your entire life in one notebook, rather than relying on a bunch of different systems or apps. I still use my phone for calendar items and when I need to make sure I get reminded to do something time sensitive like, say, pick up the cat from the vet on the way home from work. I personally also skip the index, because of the notebook and pen I use. But for 95+ % of the stuff in my life, my bullet journal is an elegant, portable way of making sure I KNOW what is going on in my life. A lot of people get really creative and Instagram-worthy with their bullet journals, using mindmaps and different colored pens and scrapbooking washi tape and such. I keep mine pretty simple, but the beauty is that this is a task management system that accommodates both paths or something in between. Here’s a video about the Bullet Journal, followed by more details on my own version of the system and some related resources that I’ve used to tweak the Bullet Journal to work more elegantly for me.

Like I said, I’ve changed things a bit from Ryder’s model. Aside from keeping my calendar in electronic form as mentioned above, I also use slightly different bullets, mostly as a way to compensate for my atrocious handwriting. I prefer the bullet designs in James Gowan’s refined version of Patrick Rhone’s Dash-Plus system, because a straight line, a plus sign, or an arrow are easier than a checkbox that probably started out misshapen and may get painted over with liquid paper and written over a time or two before being fully done. For the record, my bullets are:

– Task
+ completed task
(left arrow) Delegated task (I usually scribble the name of the person it’s delegated to under or next to the arrow
(right arrow) deferred task (usually added to my outlook calendar to start on a given date, or rolled forward to the next day’s page during my evening wrap-up)
X cancelled task
* Event or meeting notes
(triangle) Data
(Lightning bolt) Idea or freewriting
(Circle around the bullet) Pencast associated with this item—but that’s another post.  😉

I’ve used the bullet journal with some refinements and personal tweaks for several years now, and it works well for me. That said, as a leader I wish it had a more robust way to track the items I’ve delegated. I’ve been thinking about some possible ways to make sure those assigned tasks don’t get lost in the shuffle, and I’ll share whatever I end up implementing here.

So I hope you learned something useful! Talk to you on Tuesday on the podcast, and again next Thursday here on the blog, where I’ll cover another favorite tool for navigating life as a library leader.

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