Frankenlog for Research

Soooo… yeah. That’s the title for this one. I wanted to come up with something snappy and Franken-themed for this post, but I suppose there’s only so many FrankenNames out there. Anyway, let’s jump into this week’s interesting new take on Frankenlog as provided by my pal Anneke Koning. She’s a PhD researcher who hangs out in the Minimalists Bullet Journals Facebook group. I’ll let her tell you about it. Take it away Anneke!

anneke’s frankenlog

Hi! Brian encouraged me to write about my Frankenlog-hybrid monthly overview, and specifically, how I deal with (work) tasks that don’t have a specific due date.

As a PhD researcher, the majority of my work consists of tasks within research projects that don’t have a specific due date. I have used the Frankenlog monthlies for a little under a year now and I love the overview it gives me. It’s simple and easy to use, especially when I started to group my tasks and events into different categories or ‘contexts’ (more about that and ‘Getting Things Done’ here). In practice, though, I found my “Work” column kept getting crowded with work events (date-specific) and tasks without due dates. They were mixed together and hard to reference. I needed to find a way to manage them.

I have found the best way to make sure I make progress on these undated tasks is to break them into bite-size pieces. The most important action you can take is to think about your next step in a certain project (instead of worrying about the project as a whole or what you will have to do a month from now). This next step is very concrete; for me as an academic researcher, that encompasses things like “write paragraph about X”, “enter data for variable Y”, or “summarize article Z”.

To integrate that thinking and practice into my bullet journal, I have created a column in my monthly Frankenlog-style overview with specific “What’s the next step?” Work tasks.

I use something similar to a so-called Alastair method column to indicate which project a task belongs to: right now, I have three columns that correspond to General admin (symbolized by a little book), Research Project 1 (a stickman) and Research Project 2 (a globe). Sorry, I can’t tell you the specifics of these projects, we criminologists are secretive folks 😉

What I like about this method is that it gives me overview and flexibility at the same time. I can use the whole length of the page to write down the tasks in any order that they come in (flexibility), and in the morning, when I think “Hm… I feel like working on Research Project 2 right now,” I can look down that column and easily pick out a task that fits that description. Then I can migrate it to my daily log (overview). When the task is done I cross it off with an X (that’s my key for done task).

(See the How It Works page to learn more about Anneke’s weekly habit trackers.)

I should add that the monthly log doesn’t stand alone. It is much like  a command center that is supported and complemented by two other areas in my bullet journal. The first are the “dirty dailies”, where I work out of during most days. My dailies are a mix of work tasks, but also chores at home (some of which don’t appear in my monthly like doing laundry or dishes), any notes or journaling I do, etc.

Before the pen.

The second is a series of project spreads specifically about my work/PhD that I keep in the back of my journal for easy reference. While the monthly will hold the next step in my research projects, these spreads hold any additional information I may need on paper. This includes my research pipeline along with lists of variables in data files that I have to code, or journal articles I want to read.

(For more about the research pipeline or other academic Bullet Journal references, see for example Dr Ellie Mackin Roberts’ webpage).

_ _ _ _ _

Now, all of that was excellent. A great new way to use the system that makes it even more dynamic. BUT! Anneke completely glossed over another addition she made. Let’s take a look at that left page again…

Anneke is using two different sets of symbols to track AM and PM daily habits! Instead of using just one box per day, she’s using two so that she can be specific about WHEN she does her habits. This clearly kicks ass and is a great way to use up the space below her dates. Her pink and blue circles show you which boxes go with which key.

Thanks so much to Anneke for sharing her spread! Lemme know what you BuJo Bandits thinks about this new monster, and I’ll catch you fools on the flippety flip!

6 thoughts on “Frankenlog for Research

  1. J’aime les colonnes en Alastair pour définir la catégorie à laquelle appartient la note. Je testerai cette excellente idée, dans mon Frankenlog mais surtout dans mon FuturFranken, qui est peu organisé.
    Je ne fais pas de Tracker et je n’ai pas de routine ; mais la routine m’intéresse pour mes enfants, surtout mon fils qui a des difficultés d’organisation dans son quotidien (il a 8 ans).
    Merci beaucoup pour ces posts toujours très intéressants et stimulants!
    Sophie (Odilon Redon sur Facebook)


    1. Vous êtes les bienvenus! Toujours heureux d’entendre mes amis français. Et je suis content que cette nouvelle idée vous plaise. J’adore quand les gens prennent le système et le font à leur tour.


  2. Brian, have you managed to put two months of Frankenlog onto one page of A5?

    Or alternatively, do a dutch door, but with the Frankenlog on the door and the index/key on the always visible page?

    As a stay at home Dad with kids with more extracurricular activities than any logical person would agree to, my life and routines are quite predictable, as my appointments don’t change from month to month too often.

    I was wondering if a dutch door type deal would mean I could “reuse” the index from month to month for weekly chores and clubs and classes and cut down on the drafting of grid lines etc.


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