It’s a joke about bourgeoisie performative productivity and how it intersects with bullet journaling…


Bullet journaling is:

a) a productivity system that uses a journal to capture to-do lists, stray thoughts, and planning, with various levels of elaboration

b) an art form ostensibly about planning journals, but also worth time and devotion in itself, like a medieval Book of Hours.

The inventor and all the proponents will tell you that it’s about personal needs and individuality, and I believe that’s true. There is a whole Pinterest/YouTube world of people talking about how they use their bullet journal, and what it has helped them accomplish.

Me and ADD

One of the interesting effects of my ADD and how I experience it is that I can have a to-do list, and I can get a lot done in a day, and those can be entirely orthagonal to each other, so that the next morning I wake up and feel overwhelmed because I only got two items on my list done, and it took all day, what is even going on.

So now I’m using my bullet journal to record what actually happened, because my life is not very predictable or stable. When I’m interviewing people, they ask me about a day in the life of DevRel, and there’s no answer I can give them because it might be travel or speaking or customer visits or writing or or or…

Now, when I look at my journal, I can see that the reason I “didn’t get anything done” is because I spent 3 hours taking my kids to the movies, or because I was in transit. I can see when I finish books, and what I’ve been writing. Recording my actual activity is so useful to understand where my day goes. I can even see trends over time. Like the day after I get home for a long trip, I get very little done, and the longer I’m home, the more tasks I accomplish.

I’m also not limiting what counts as a “task”. If something feels to me like I’ve either finished it, or there is a time investment to it, it goes on the list. I like finishing things, it matters a lot to me.

My “system”

This first image is a set of daily pages. I put in my travel, things I did, stuff too small or too new to have a to-do list item. I’ve blanked out people’s names, but you can see that I’m using this partially to track emotional and domestic labor, self-care, and media consumption, as well as work items. It’s all me, all an integral part of keeping the magic going. In this spread, I’m experimenting with adding some icons to show what kind of thing I did. Teeny stickers might also work well for that.

Two pages of a personal productivity journal, handwritten in teal ink.

On the right side of the picture below, there’s a to-do list. Blank boxes mean I haven’t started, one line means I started and haven’t finished, and an X means I’m done. This is not BuJo style, but it works pretty well for me. You can see that I insert tasks on this page as they come up, and when I run out of good spacing, I’ll start at the top and add things in every line.

If you look at this, you can see that this is not the “normal” A5 Leuchtterm that most people love for bullet journaling, but an A6, which is small enough to fit in a hoodie or jeans pocket, and therefore much more usable for me.

Because this is also a commonplace book, I use it for handwriting practice, recording new pens and inks, and quotes or ideas I want to keep around.

Spencerian script citing a part of Kiplings “Sons of Martha” poem

I find it very useful to have this one book that knows everything (although perilous if I lose it). I do my calendaring online, but online to-do lists have yet to work for me.


You should watch this bullet journaling youtube video all the way to the end.