Cal Newport’s Dismissal of Bullet Journaling Has Me Wondering

Cal Newport dropped Bullet Journaling after a month-long experiment because the system didn’t fit his expansive thinking on a daily basis. He summarizes: “The total amount of information I record, read, and regularly change to keep my energy focused productively is simply way too voluminous for me to tame with a single medium-size notebook and some fine-tipped markers.”

I’ve used the Bullet Journal system since 2013 and have been an irritating advocate of it among my friends and colleagues. It works for me. But there is something to what Newport says about it. It rewards rapid logging of tasks, both to-do and done, and it doesn’t demand much thought about the quality of the tasks you’re logging. It only wants you to note what’s in your head and then mark what you did with it.

Newport is making me think that hiding behind pages and pages of bullets and signifiers is totally something a person could do. So here’s a rule I’m trying this week to combat that possibility: complete sentences. If the bullet can’t be rendered as a complete sentence, preferably one with an adjective (“Check on X parishoner” is not as qualitative as “Eagerly call X parishoner”), then maybe I can do without it.





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