A pen and a notebook


Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism has really changed my perspective on a lot of things in my life. Since I started my decluttering process I’ve noticed several benefits. In particular, I’m less prone to distractions and leisure has become time for engaging activities.

This new approach has prompted me to reconsider how I organise my days, weeks, and months. For a couple of years I’ve been using my custom variation of GTD, tracking everything with Org files in Emacs, and using Syncthing and Orgzly to keep it all synced with my phone. However, as I already explained when I wrote about Cal Newport’s book, my smartphone is not my best friend, and so the whole setup is actually of little use. And let’s be frank: sometimes I can leave Emacs alone.

I also write a lot, everyday. I write about films, note my ideas on the music I listen to and the books I read, and I write for this blog too. Hence I need a place which can be useful both for organising my life and for my basic urge to write. Enter Bullet Journal.

I recently rediscovered the pleasure of pen and paper when in Leuven for Heart of Clojure. Since I left the laptop at home on purpose, I spent almost every spare moment on my notebook, and much of the article on the conference came straight from its pages. As Ryder Carroll, the man behind Bullet Journal, points out in his book, the connection our brain establishes with pen and paper is completely different from the one with keyboard and monitor. For me it’s mostly been a feeling I sensed when writing on my notebook. My thoughts just came out with a spontaneity I’ve rarely enjoyed with the digital counterparts.

I won’t bother you with the details about Bullet Journal. The website has tutorials, videos, there is a book about it, so everything you need to know is out there. I picked this system because I find it simple and clear, modular and practical. Starting next month, I am going to fully migrate my GTD setup to Bullet Journal and once again step back to distance myself from pervasive technology consumption.