Pure Bullet Journal, No Google Calendar…. Couldn’t Do It

Frankenlite for March ’19

I should be able to use Frankenlog as my only calendar, right? It’s excellent for task management, so why not load everything in and give it a whirl? Lots of people do it, but I’ve noticed that they don’t usually have as much stuff going on as I do. No, seriously. Go look at the “About” page. I’ve got a lot going on!

I decided that I would give it the ol’ college try (I’m in grad school, so it’s a literal college try). For the month of March, I moved everything out of Google Calendar and made the attempt to work exclusively out of my bullet journal. I decided to use all the collections from a standard BuJo (Index, Future Log, Monthly Log, Daily Log, etc.) and that I would not refer to my GCal for the entire month. How did I do? Oh, well I guess the title sort of gives this away. Let’s pretend you didn’t read the title so you can have a little suspense. Cool? Cool.

The picture above was from March 1st. You’ll notice I’m using a different format of Frankenlog conceived by Smitha SP from the Minimalist Bullet Journals group on Facebook. I named it Frankenlite since it was so much easier to draw and it didn’t have space for weekly tasks or habit trackers. However, I’m a fan of the full feature set, so I added that stuff back in. I’m going to keep calling it Frankenlite though because it’s still easier to draw and the name is kinda already stuck to it, so… Moving on!

In that picture, you’ll notice that there was already an awful lot of stuff on March 1st (such is my life). In preparation of having tons of tasks/appointments (aka “stuff”), I made the next two pages in my journal consist only of additional columns like those you see above. That means I have 7 full columns waiting for stuff. Sweet. Plenty of room here….

But not in the Future Log. In order to avoid referencing my Google Calendar at all, I realized that I was going to have to move all my appointments and events for the year out of the calendar and into my Future Log. Fair enough. I was committed to the experiment. Unfortunately, as I started moving things over, I ran into my biggest pet peeve… Lack of space!

DAMMIT!!!

Even with the Alastair Method, my current Future Log format was no match for the pile of stuff I was trying to add to it. Change was needed.

Just putting in March’s stuff broke poor Alastair’s back. :-\

As usual, my biggest concern was having enough space. If you haven’t noticed yet, I have a metric crap ton of stuff to track. I like that the Alastair Method is so much like rapid logging, but I can’t be limited to three months per page. I needed something that would allow me to use all the space in any way that I needed. And so a new Future Log format was born. I give you… The ProLog!

The ProLog. Thanks much to Velma Gallant for the name!

This Future Log variant allowed me to fit an entire year of tasks AND calendar events into a single spread. Nice! I asked the lunatics over on the Minimalist Bullet Journals group on Facebook to name it, and Velma’s suggestion was my favorite. ProLog? You know… Like a prologue? And because it’s a log? Pro because it’s hardcore? Anyway… The small columns are for the month and the wide column is for the day and the details. I should have included a bit more space so that a bullet is included in each entry so I can mark it with with a > once they’re migrated. I’ll add that next time. This spread lets me rapid log my future log entries in non-chronological order and I won’t run out of space. Eeeeeexcellent. Here’s a video explaining how to use it.

Note to self: Upload custom thumbnails…

Having loaded up the Frankenlite and the ProLog, I was ready to face March with analog agility! Or was I…..

Don’t know what you got till it’s gone

Click here for music to accompany this picture.

The first three days of trying this were like detox. It was SO HARD to resist looking at my Google Calendar. Then the challenges started mounting.

  • My phone started ringing in a meeting – it usually silences itself when my Google Calendar says I’m busy. I’d have to always be mindful of my ringer, which is not something I’ve had to think about for years now.
  • No more reminders ten minutes before a meeting starts.
  • No more tapping an event in GC and pulling up the address in Google Maps.
  • My boss asked me when was the next time I’d have an hour to go over something. It took me way too long to tell him. It was a tad embarrassing, especially since I’m known as the crazy organized guy.
  • Much harder to compare my schedule to Jenny’s (the wife). Usually I could just turn on both our shared calendars and see where the bars cross over. No longer.

I wanted so badly to power through until the end of the month with my experiment. But on day six, I missed an appointment and two things (albeit minor things) didn’t get done. That was the end of the experiment. And so, with a heavy sigh that you’ll just have to imagine because you weren’t there and I don’t know how to show you something that happened in the past that has so little value… I went back to Google Calendar.

It guess it was always meant to be….

——

The Frankenlog system is great for tracking my many tasks, and it might even work as a full-fledged calendar for someone with a lot less stuff than I have, but in the end I was very happy to go back to living in digital delight.

Do you use your bullet journal as your all-in-one calendar? What kind of spread works for you? Let me know in the comments!

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Frankenlite – Frankenlog’s slimmer self (aka Bride of Frankenlog)

Back in November, I unleashed Frankenlog on the denizens of Facebook. Since then, the little format changes that other bullet journalists have made to Frankenlog help to make it more accessible to others. Smitha SP, a fellow BuJo user over at the Minimalist Bullet Journals group on Facebook, created this fantastic layout for Frankenlog that I jokingly dubbed “Bride of Frankenlog.” While this name is thematic and fun, it’s also like 67 syllables and I have a lazy mouth, so over time I started simply calling it “Frankenlite.” This name fits well; it takes less time to draw, and it doesn’t include the tracking of weekly tasks or habits. Smitha has kindly provided this overview of her Frankenlog variant.

Frankenlite

Hi, I’m Smitha and I’m obsessed with tweaking and re-tweaking my systems in the hope that they will make me more productive. In doing so, I’ve come to realize that simple works best for me. Hey, life is complicated enough, my planner doesn’t have to be. The simplicity and flexibility of BuJo is what attracted me to it. But it’s not perfect, just like any other system in the universe. It best fits the person who created it, it might fit others as is, but most likely you’ll have to tailor it to your needs.
For one, I loved having a monthly on a single page and liked that Ryder’s monthly log is simple to set up. But, I had one problem that kept bothering me. I had multiple events on one day and then days would go by without any drama. Space crunch. Followed by wasted space. Then space crunch again. I saw Ryder’s video and he writes small and he’s very succinct. I need more than a few words, then some time and place added to remember what the heck it is. I also like to use it as a calendar to look ahead and not just retrospectively like Ryder suggests. I even tried the beautiful two page traditional monthly spread that everybody is used to seeing in planners, but, same problem! Crowded boxes where I had to squint to see what I have and then blocks of white space.
Then on a Facebook BuJo group, I saw Brian’s post about Frankenlog. I was excited to see another productivity trick that somebody had. And it did not disappoint. He had figured out a way to fit his events, tasks, habits all into a spread with a dutch door (BH: The door got left behind). What caught my attention was that he had a small calendar block with letters in them and then explanations of them elsewhere in the page. And that was the light-bulb moment for me. That was exactly the indexing I needed to add to Ryder’s monthly log to make it work for me. A narrower log, wide enough to fit letters of the alphabet. And then a wider column where I could write out the events non-linearly to my heart’s content. Brian aptly christened this ‘The Bride of Frankenlog’! (BH: Now known as Frankenlite.)
I have included a real and not-so-perfect pic of my monthly. I admit I’m no Instagrammer :P, but I hope the pic highlights the utility of such a layout. Brian, thanks for letting me post my version, happy to be a part of the Frankenlog family that hopes to play a part in making people’s busy lives easier!

Frankenlite
Yes, she sent me this in January. Like you do everything right away… Geesh…

Tweaking and Re-tweaking

I decided to give Frankenlite a spin for myself in March, but I didn’t want to go without my weekly tracking, so I tweaked her tweak and included everything that a standard Frankenlog would contain. This allows Frankenlite to still fit the “lite” moniker due to is being quicker to create and more minimal in appearance while maintaining all the features of the system.

My Frankenlite for March

_ _ _ _ _

That’s it for today my fellow BuJo Bandits. Be sure to check out Smitha’s Etsy shop! She makes printable planner inserts that are fun, functional, and super-affordable. Plus, her store name is sweet – “aflawsomelife.” Nice! You can also find her in the Minimalist Bullet Journals group on FB.

Tune in again soon when I take Frankenlite for the ultimate test spin… I’m ditching Google calendar for March!

New Monsters! Frankenweek versions 1.0 and 1.1

Happy Sunday my fellow mad scientists! Today I want to show you a couple new versions (Frankenmods, if you will) of Frankenlog for those of you out there who prefer to work with weekly spreads instead of – or in addition to – daily logs. I’ll list the pros and cons to each version as we go. Let me know what you think in the comments!

If you’re not familiar already with how Frankenlog works, check out this page before reading on.

Frankenweek v1.0

First up, we have v1.0. I was toying with the idea of going back to using a Dutch door with Frankenlog when I came up with this beast.

Using a half-page Dutch door at the bottom of the page, I was able to create a spread that comes with the benefits of the Frankenlog system while also allowing someone to see all of their items for a given week. Undated tasks can be kept on each side of the main calendar and can always be viewed. This spread also gives you a bonus spot on the last page after Week 5 to use for notes or whatnot.

To make this spread, just cut about halfway down the page and remove the top portion. Be careful when doing this. Consider using an Exacto knife or something similar. If you just yank out the top half of the page, you could cause another page somewhere else in your book to get all wonky. Ask me how I know. 🙂

Pros

  • Simultaneous month/week views.
  • Could be used instead of dailies if you don’t have a ton of items.
  • Could also be used in conjunction with dailies.
  • Great for those who prefer a weekly format but would like to use the other features of Frankenlog.
  • Easy to find items for each week.
  • Not much harder to make than a standard Frankenlog spread.

Cons

  • Repeating tasks that span multiple weeks must be written more than once (more on this after I discuss version 1.1).
  • Not much space in general for each week or for undated tasks.
  • Have to write across the spine for Weeks 2 and 5 (I really don’t like this aspect).

Alrighty then. Was that a whirlwind of creativity or WHAT!? You probably need to go get a frosty beverage before we move on. I understand – this is heavy stuff.

Frankenweek Version 1.1

I mean, why wait, right? I don’t think v1.0 lasted for an hour before I started coming up with something new. I present to you, v1.1.

I know, at first glance you might think that this isn’t much different than v1.0, but sit tight my fellow BuJo Bandits. Notice that this version gives you much more space for each week, and there is a visual connection to the actual calendar.

What that? You only see space for the first two weeks? Well, I hope you brought your wood screws, ’cause I’m about to blow your doors CLEAN OFF!

Wait…
WHAT THE WHAT!?!?!?
Mind. Blown.
Just humor me and pretend your mind is blown.

BLAMO! L-shaped Dutch doors baby! Woo Hoo! We’re sitting right on the edge of sanity here, folks. By cutting out just a portion of two pages, I was able to make a six-page spread that acts like a two-page spread! There’s space for all five weeks, and the last page has a spot to put all your undated tasks. No matter what page you’re on, you can still see the monthly calendar and all the habit trackers.

Pros (mostly the same as v1.0)

  • Simultaneous month/week views.
  • Could be used instead of dailies and if you don’t have too many items.
  • Could also be used in conjunction with dailies.
  • Great for those who prefer a weekly format but would like to use the other features of Frankenlog.
  • Easy to find items for each week.
  • Don’t have to write across the spine like you do in v1.0.
  • Super friggin cool looking. Novelty score 10 out of 10!

Cons

  • Repeating tasks that span multiple weeks must be written more than once (more on this below).
  • More space than v1.0, but still nothing compared to a standard daily log.
  • This takes a fair amount of time to create.

Final Thoughts on Frankenweek

I originally had planned to cut a single sheet into an L-shaped Dutch door, but I pushed too hard with the Exacto knife. But that gave me the inspiration to spread v1.1 over another set of pages and create something with a lot more space than v1.0.

The biggest issue I have with these formats is the loss of a Frankenlog feature that I’m quite fond of. With the regular Frankenlog, you can write a repeating task in the list and then just put it’s assigned letter anywhere you want throughout the whole month. But with Frankenweek, that would only work within a single week. If the repeating tasks spread over more than one week, you would have to write the task again in each week’s section.

Full Disclosure: I don’t use weekly spreads at all. It’s unlikely that I will ever use these for my own Bullet Journal. I make them as an offering to those out there who are a fan of weekly spreads. They were a ton of fun to design and I hope that someone can find some use in them. Check out the YouTube video I made right after penciling these out, and stay tuned for the next monstrous spread to come out of the FrankenLabs!

Ignore the hair. Mad scientists can’t be bothered with using product!

The Advantage of Habit Stars vs. Habit Trackers

When using Frankenlog, daily habits are tracked with a set of up to five symbols that – when completed – make a nifty little star to celebrate your awesomeness. So why are these habit stars better than habit trackers? (Okay, yes, I know… Habit stars are habit trackers. Get off my back!)

I’m currently in the midst of my best star day run ever. Granted, that’s only a run of four days (almost five!), but I’ve noticed that those stars contribute a little something extra to my efforts. You see, with regular trackers, I’m usually using just watching the progress of one habit at a time. Each habit is it’s own thing, unrelated to my other efforts. I mean, yeah, a lot of folks will use a full page tracker for several habits at once, and doing this allows them to see if they did all of them each day. So what’s the difference?

It’s hard to describe (can’t ya tell?), but making that star means more. All my daily habits are integrated with each other. They’re all a part of that star. I want that star. So if I’ve done two or three of my habits for the day, you can bet your BuJo I’m gonna finish those last two. The star causes momentum and motivation.

Without the star, maybe I finish four out of five for the day, so I give yourself a pass on that fifth one. “I’ve been good today, four outta five ain’t bad.” But nay! Not with star habits! Instead, I want that last habit. What a shame it would be to miss a star day by one habit! What a crime! I gotta do it!

When I made the daily habit tracker in Frankenlog, my only goal was to create a compact system that would somehow fit in a tiny calendar. I never intended star habits to become a motivational tool, but I’m ever so glad that they have. 🙂

What has your experience been with the star habits in Frankenlog? Have you been using them? Leave your comments below!

Thanks for swinging by.

Too Many Habits!

(This entry assumes you’re familiar with Frankenlog. If not, head over here and take a gander!)

I was chatting with a fellow Frankenlog user on Facebook earlier today and she mentioned finding it hard to achieve star days. These are days in which you have successfully done all of your habits and have filled in that day’s box with all five symbols, creating what looks like a starburst to celebrate your achievement.

Here’s a New Year’s fueled streak of accomplishment!

The truth is, achieving five habits everyday is a hard thing to do! It could even be argued that five habits is too many habits to track each day.

As we all know, the best way to start new habits is to start with small, incremental changes. This may mean starting with only one habit that is tracked each day. Once it becomes second nature, we can add on another and so on until we are happy with our results.

Just because Frankenlog allows for tracking five daily and five weekly habits doesn’t mean you need to go that route. Here’s how you can use the system to track fewer habits and still get “star days.”

Less Daily Habits

Tracking 2 or 3 habits each day

Take a look at the 3rd and the 4th in the picture above. If you wanted to track only two habits per day, use the symbol from the 3rd for habit #1 and the symbol from the 4th for habit #2. You could even just skip that dot in the middle and use the lines to create your star day.

Now take a look at the next week. You could use the three symbols from the 10th, 11th, and 12th to track three daily habits, still making the star when you’re done.

Less Weekly Habits

If you look at the picture above one more time, you’ll notice that there are five boxes on the left of each week to track five habits. Putting a letter at the top of each column of boxes reminds us which habit we’re tracking with each box. But as you can see on my own Frankenlog, I only track three weekly habits. Sure, I could probably come up with another two, but filling up my trackers is the wrong reason to track a habit. I only track what I feel is best for me. You should do the same, too. 🙂


Wow, look at me. Lots of blog posts this weekend! Don’t get used to it, folks. Once grad school starts up again I’ll be a ghost. However I do hope to write soon about the other breeds of Frankenlogs that other users have come up with. Stay tuned!

A Cool Ruler with Terrible Name (A Review): The MoxieRule Bullet Journal Rule Planner Ruler for Journaling and Planning

Greeting BuJo Bandits! Gotta say I’m pretty pleased with how much traffic this site has gotten over the first 48 hours. Waaaaay beyond my expectations. Thanks so much for stopping in. Now, to reward you I will subject you to a review of a ruler. Yup, we Bullet Journalists are a bunch of lunatic party animals! WOOOHOOO! RULERS!!!! Okay, okay, take a seat, settle down. I know you weren’t expecting to read reviews on this site. Hey, I didn’t expect to write one. But this came in the mail yesterday so I thought I would tell you about it. My site, my rules! There is no law in this place!

What’s In A Name?

In this case, ten words. According to it’s listing on Etsy, this is called… well, here:


Kinda reminds me of Sean Connery’s equally silly name in Highlander –
Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez

That name is probably just a wonky keyword mashup to help people find the listing. She seems to have trademarked the word MoxiRule, but the ruler itself is labeled Moxiedori Journal Rule. I’m going to call it the Moxiedori because it sounds delightfully close to oopsie-daisy or hunky-dory, both of which just made us all feel a bit silly inside when we read them.

A BuJo-Centric Ruler

Okay the number of nonsense words in this review just keeps growing. Maybe I shouldn’t write reviews. This is getting out of hand. Moving on!

The Maxiedonkey

The Okie-Dokie is a ruler designed specifically for Bullet Journaling. Along each side there are 40 numbered rows which are scaled to match exactly with the 5mm grid commonly used in bullet journals. If you are using a Lechalsdkfarn 1917 (Shush – You don’t know how to spell it either), then the scale of this will match up perfectly in your book. This is nice, because it means no more counting out rows when you’re trying to make sections or boxes or whatnot in your BuJo.

Lining up perfectly in Frankenlog

One very nice feature of the Humpydumpty Rule is that it shows you how to divide your journal page into 2,3,4,5,6, or 7 equal rows.

Columns in the middle are guides to create evenly spaced rows.

I thought it was going to be a problem that the ruler has 40 lines and my book only has 38, but I noticed that all the section divisions end on row 40. That means I can just put the last line of the ruler (40) on my book’s last line and move upwards to create the even rows.

Seven Easy Pieces! How’s that for an obscure reference?

You can technically use it sideways as well, but you lose some of the magic since most of the scales are too long to fit. For example, you can use the four-section scale, but you’ll only be able to fit three columns across. Not a big deal though, as the ruler was clearly designed primarily for vertical use. It would have been FRIGGIN’ AWESOME if the designer had put a horizontal scale on the other side, but I’m sure it’s a lot more work to print on both sides of the plastic.

My pinky finger looks funky in this pic, but not like Denzel Washington funky.

What? Yes! I said plastic! The Ringyrosie is made from a light and flexible plastic. It’s very bendy and bounces right back. Observe.

Bendy
FWAP! Unbendy! Presto BuJo!!!

I wanted to see if it would pick up ink off my pen, so I dragged my LePen across the edge several times while intentionally trying to mark it up. No dice! The Achy-breaky stayed a pristine white.

Now the question is… will it fit in the back pocket of your A5? Looks like it’s a bit too long…

But it actually fits fine. Put a little angle on that bad boy and it fits in with juuuust a wee bit of peaking out.

Like a teeny tiny bit. Like you can’t see it when the pocket’s fully flat.

Final Thoughts

I am very pleased with the Chunkymonkey Journal Rule. It’s lightweight, flexible, fits in the back of my book, and makes it much easier to plan out designs. You also can’t beat the price, at $4.00 plus about $3.00 shipping. Yeah, it’s just a thin piece of plastic, but the utility it provides seems totally worth the price to me.

JUDGEMENT: BUY IT!

Thanks for tolerating a review for my second blog. I have absolutely no idea what sort of nonsense I’ll be posting here, so stay tuned!