For the last two months I’ve taken a new approach to managing my activities, my staff and my own development and the results have been phenomenal and it only involves a pen and a notebook. Two months in I’ve got everything at my finger tips, I’m giving much more responsibility to my staff for their own work, and I’ve got a much better grip of the strategic aspects of my role. When I told someone about the system I’ve been using they described it as ‘a system for the super-organised’ which I jumped on immediately to correct:
this isn’t a system for the super-organised but a system that can make you super-organised!
I was surprised to find that the system does more than just create order out of chaos. I came across this system, Ryder Carroll’s bullet journal system, one Sunday morning at the end of May. After spending the better part of a day what I expected from this system was that my note taking would be revolutionised and I would be much better able to find a note that I’d made about team meetings and then quickly be able to find notes about the Board meetings I attend. I was right, it did do this and then some. However, two months in I can tell you that it has also made me a better manager and much more strategic.
This system has allowed me to improve my management style by giving me the structure to better package and give context to work items and shows respect to my staff for their own time and contribution. Before I started to use bullet journal if I had a question, task or project for my staff I would politely interrupt whatever they were doing and share it with them. As I was getting to grips with the basics of the bullet journal I was reflecting on this approach and it struck me quite powerfully that this behaviour was at complete odds with my own perception of my management style. I now capture all the tasks, questions and projects and share them with each member of my team in a weekly one-to-one meeting. A lot of the time my staff members have caught up with a lot of the items that I might have on my list for them without them knowing I was tracking it and this gives them the freedom and responsibility for sorting out their own areas. This then means that I can spend time discussing what they did and the outcome of it which is much more about leadership and coaching than it is about functional line management which, at their level, is frankly unnecessary.
The third standout difference from using the bullet journal system is that I’m better able to now focus on the strategic, as well as the fire-fighting, aspects of my role. There is something about the bullet journal system that encourages you to think in themes/categories which is at the heart of the indexing system that supports bullet journal. With such a focus on themes and categories it wasn’t too long at all before I started to notice that I wasn’t spending any time focussing on the long-term for my organisation or for myself. So, I stated a spread in my bullet journal for just this purpose and almost straight away I found myself spending quality time progressing my own career agenda to the benefit of my staff, my Director and the organisation.
When I started to use my bullet journal in June I made myself a promise: if I’m still using it after a month I’m going to share it with the people I work with. I was and I did. I created a prezi that explains how to use the bullet journal system and you are more than welcome to use it yourself if you’re familiar enough with bullet journals to be able to use this.
If you’d like to know more about bullet journal visit Ryder’s bullet journal website.