Bullet Journals are Agile

bullet_journalHave you heard of a Bullet Journal? If not, the Bullet Journal site will explain it all to you in detail, but here is my summary:

A Bullet Journal is a personal version of Scrum.

If you are familiar with Bullet Journals or have one yourself you may already have realized the goals and potential benefits of keeping one, but if you’re also a Scrum Nerd like me, you may have also realized how the techniques also line up to The Scrum Guide and the Agile Manifesto.

The Scrum Guide’s statement on Scrum Theory says:

Scrum Theory:

Scrum is founded on empirical process control theory, or empiricism. Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is known. Scrum employs an iterative, incremental approach to optimize predictability and control risk.

Three pillars uphold every implementation of empirical process control: transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

-The Scrum Guide

Transparency, inspection and adaption is exactly the process one follows when keeping a bullet journal.

Additionally Scrum is described as being:

  •  Lightweight
  •  Simple to understand
  •  Difficult to master

Again, I would say this is all also true of Bullet Journals.  It is a simple concept that takes time and refinement to employ in a way that is truly effective on an individual level.

Bullet Journaling is described as:

Bullet Journaling lives at the intersection between mindfulness and productivity. A system that adapts to your life every single day. The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.

– bulletjournal.com

Let me explain my thinking:

  • Rapid Logging is the first instruction in getting started with Bullet Journaling. Rapid logging is the technique used and it consists of four components: topics, page numbers, short sentences, and bullets.
    – In other words it contains just enough information as is needed.
  • Future Logs and Monthly Logs are used to help establish the daily log
    – Sounds like a Product backlog and a Sprint backlog to me
  • The Daily Log and Migration – the daily log is established the night before for each day and tasks or items from the day before are migrated to the new day.
    – Daily Stand Up anyone?
  • Refinement – the process of bullet journaling requires constant refinement. Indexes and symbols and habits need to be established over time to make it work on an individual level. This requires practice and reflection regularly.
    – Refinement of the process is an important goal of the retrospective
  • Goals – Just like a sprint, Bullet Journals help users establish and keep track of their progress towards defined goals. Those goals are personal.

I made an attempt at bullet journaling about a year ago. To be frank, things in my work life became so haywire that I abandoned a number of practices and am now establishing new ways of working for myself. I have decided to re-start my bullet journal to see how it aligns with my agile practices both at work and at home. I will periodically post on my progress.

Anyone who’s interested in hearing more about Bullet Journaling should definitely visit the website, but also watch this great TED talk by Bullet Journal creator Ryder Carroll.

5 thoughts on “Bullet Journals are Agile

  1. Funny, I had never heard of Scrum theory until you started this blog, but after reading your first two posts I found myself thinking, “It must be very similar to bullet journaling.” I began my first bullet journal about a year ago. I can honestly say now that I don’t know how I ever lived without one. I’ve had to revise and adjust to figure out what works best for me but a year into it, I’ve got it pretty much down. Some people, apparently, get very decorative with their bullet journals. Mine is extremely basic, but who knows? I’ve taken up Zen Tango in recent months, so it may find itself creeping into my journals one day…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m happy to hear you had that thought! I’m looking forward to giving my bullet journal a go.

    And yes, Zen Tango sounds cool – like a new meditation method. Have never done a Zentangle, but will have to give that a try too.


  3. musingsfromthesofa

    Now I have to go and look up Zentangle. I’ve been bullet journaling for about a year at home, and since Jan at work. I keep the journals separate. I think my use of the home one slipped a lot but I’m still wedded to the principle, and particularly with all my travel now I wouldn’t have a clue what’s going on otherwise!

    Liked by 1 person

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