2017 Review: Top 10 Bountiful Productivity Discoveries / Implementations

2017 Review: Top 10 Bountiful Productivity Discoveries / Implementations

TL;DR

Reviewing 2017 bullet journal entries coaxed smiles. Some productivity-related discoveries became as deeply entrenched as breathing. 10 bountiful gems follow.

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

2017 Process & Procedure Discoveries Yielding a Bountiful Harvest

Year 2017 gifted several discoveries, each emerging as vital to my self-management and growth. Specific processes and procedures conspired, with resulting enhanced consistent productivity.

1️⃣ The 5-Whys Technique

The 5-Whys Technique
The 5-Whys Technique

Few new-to-me processes packed the punch of the 5-Whys technique. Rather than settling for an obvious answer produced by a single why, I’ve learned to dig, and keep digging. Whether muddling my way past a spirit-crushing disappointment, or maintaining overall peace within my circle, the 5-Whys continue to serve well, earning its number one spot on this year-end list.

2️⃣ My Bullet Journal’s Dual TimeBlocking

Time blocking
Time blocking

My weekday dual time blocksThe Plan vs The Reality— constitute accountability, on steroids. Tedium (e.g. migrating tasks) disappeared, as did the mind slaps propelled by tortuously long todo lists. This routine soon found its way into rarified air: my top three productivity gems.

 

3️⃣ My Bullet Journal’s Daily Log

The Daily Log: stress killer
The Daily Log: stress killer

Joining dual time blocking, the Daily Log of my Bullet Journal killed stress of the everyday variety. Didcha do?? no longer interrupts my sleep. I KNOW every worthy thought lives in ONLY ONE location. Among my wisest decisions: using the incredibly portable Hobonichi Weeks as my Daily Log (and hardlandscape events) receptacle. It shadows me, guaranteeing consistent input and hence, earned faith in the über reliability of my system.

4️⃣ Forest Therapy

Forest Therapy: my "church"
Forest Therapy: my “church”

As an avid bird photographer, I’ve long appreciated the intense relaxation induced by a joyful obsession. However, it didn’t occur to me that surrounding myself with Nature, sans camera, could inspire equally intense spiritual satisfaction. Once realized, parks morphed into Pam’s churches. The peace instilled by forest therapy beats any pill from the pharmacy, each and every time. Since I do not, and will not, deal with organized religion,1 I remain supremely thankful for this particular discovery!

5️⃣ Automated Social Media Tracking

Independent work actuates the need to indulge social media, the mutha of all rabbit holes. Accountability promoted my embrace of IFTTT, a service living to arrange shotgun marriages between two apps. The serial applets I created ensure every public post auto-copies to an associated calendar, e.g. Facebook → SM.FB, Reddit → SM.Reddit, WordPress → SM.Blog, Twitter → SM.Twitter. Bonus: a few weeks ago, Google finally joined iOS in permitting calendar selection per applet. Woot!

Sample: automated tweets and more
Sample: automated tweets and more

Speaking of Twitter, many of my tweets emanate from a dedicated Google Calendar where I schedule the posting date and time with content. IFTTT then grabs any item within that cal marked ScheduledTweet, and tweets within the surrounding 15-20 minute timeframe. Three huge bonuses:

  1. A split-second CalenGoo (app) search through that lone calendar precludes inadvertent duplicate posts.
  2. CalenGoo reduces steps via its easy-to-setup template system. (All I enter: the content. The chosen template adds all else.)
  3. Tweet confirmation (courtesy of another applet) appears within a similar Twitter-focused cal
  4. One glance through my cal informs when I next need to feed the Twitter stash. At this writing (Dec. 19th), my 4:30a-ish #5amWritersClub tweets will process through mid-January. The slow period of the holiday week will permit additional feedings, likely taking me into March.

Among my additional calendar-feeding applets:

  • daily weather report
  • daily writing prompt.
  • Google Drive → EverNote: gives me a running list of all saved files, including linked folder. Reviewing a list beats the skleeboop outta rifling through folders or searching for files by date.

6️⃣ PrintFriendly Bookmarklet

This PDF-creation bookmarklet found its way to my Safari browser in late 2016. But I didn’t use it consistently until the then-new year settled in. Combined with searchable Google Drive, this treasure admirably addresses my save-webpage needs. Removing all extraneous elements, the resulting clean text welcomes annotation (iOS PDF Expert). This tool, now gracing every browser I use, reduced my premium EverNote subscription to a mere free receptacle for IFTTT-generated feedings.

2017 Goodies Rockin’ the Productivity Vibe

7️⃣ The Jibun Techo Family of Japanese Planner Products

Jibun Techo: B6 Slim Biz Mini
Jibun Techo: B6 Slim Biz Mini

Like most, my initial introduction to Japanese planners involved Hobonichi products. The A6 Hobonichi Techo eased back out the door within a week of its arrival. The A5 Cousin Avec lasted several months, until its EDC-allergic sizing sparked a search for a more portable friend. That search led me to the kinda-B6 Weeks. By that time October rolled around, the 2017 Jibun had replaced the Cousin.

From the day of its arrival, the A5 Slim Jibun Techo Standard shouted satisfaction. The INCLUDED cover held the INCLUDED 3 books: planner, Idea (blank grid) booklet, and Life booklet. Yet, the trio’s joint profile personified thinness, a hallmark of the diary and Idea’s Tomoe River paper.

Throughout the lion’s share of 2017, my Hobonichi Weeks played joined at my hip sidekick to the Jibun Techo. The duo will extend its range into 2018. October, the start of my maybe-this 2018 planner book auditions, saw a new Jibun Techo model —the B6 Slim Biz Mini— cross my threshold. Adding a mere inch to the width of the Weeks, the Biz Mini coaxes frequent smiles.

About the Paper

The Standard Jibun presents Tomoe River paper; the Biz variants, MIO paper. A cult-like embrace of Tomoe River paper permeates the planner community. I’m not a fan as regards the Standard’s implementation. While I appreciate the über thin profile Tomoe River paper provides, I despise its ghosting.

The MIO paper found in the Biz and companion Life booklet offers high quality paper with no downside. A bit toothier than its Tomoe River cousin, the MIO provides a glorious writing experience. The Biz model also seems calmer than the Standard, with its monochromatic print (unlike the colorful Standard) and heavier fonts.

8️⃣ 0.3 mm Pilot Juice Up Gel Pen

Pilot Juice Up 0.3 mm gel pen
Pilot Juice Up 0.3 mm gel pen

The Biz Mini’s small-grid (under 3mm) craves thin lines. I thought I had the answer in the 0.20 mm Pigma Micron 005, Hobonichi MultiPen (0.5 mm technically, but writes surprisingly thin lines) and Pilot 0.38 mm Juice gel pens.

Many enjoy fountain pens as bullet journaling tools. I coughed up that ghost. Nothing beats the ease, speed, and just-do-it qualities of a retractable gel or rollerball pen for capturing a thought. My Vanishing Point’s Fine and italic nibs continue to delight, but their more frequent ink refill requisites relegate the pen to journaling-only mode. Ditto re the legion of others in my collection. The exception: Pilot Preppy’s (.03 mm) rainbow of fountain pens.. Reason: writes even after prolonged storage, with long-lasting ink (using a converter rather than supplied cartridge).

The black and blue Juice Up pens blow my mind, gliding across the page like a pencil while laying down hyper-fine needlepoint-style lines. The needlepoint/ conical hybrid tip eliminates Micron fraying problems; never ghosts; and plays well with every highlighter tossed in its direction. (The other colors? Ok in a pinch, but I prefer their Juice 0.38 mm siblings.)

9️⃣ Apps: My First Year withOUT a New Discovery — Thrilling!

App Store no more
App Store no more

I don’t know what’s new because I stopped looking. My bullet journal killed app scrounging hunts, a change solidified by

  1. Apple’s determination to mimic the reliability of Windows Vista;
  2. my conclusion: like innovation, quality control left the Apple building with Steve; and,
  3. the steady march of developers toward the SaaS model (TextExpander???! PuhLeeeease! 😂🤣).

Once upon a time, I stood in line for the latest iPhone. Today, I continue to rock version 6+. Yesteryear, I’d race to install the latest OS. Today, iOS 10.x continues powering my iPhone and iPad. Perhaps by dot-version 5, Apple will kill the ridiculous glitches rolled out in iOS 11 —withOUT substituting grrrr inducers.

Apple retrained me, as did its developers. These days, none enjoy good will. I demand proof of enhanced functionality withOUT showstoppers prior to downloads. I assume $$ paid today may be tossed, courtesy of a developer’s sudden SaaS embrace. And, I refuse to upgrade hardware despite manipulative tactics, e.g. Apple’s admitted slow down of older devices — for the customer’s good, of course. Apple, I don’t like sneaks. Your prior silence tells me all I need to know.

 

🔟 Planner Peace IS Attainable

 2018 BuJo peace
2018 BuJo peace

As I discover deficiencies in my bullet journal, I apply curative tweaks. None of that alters the reality of genuine planner peace, courtesy of my Jibun Techo (then/ 2017: A5 Slim Jibun Techo Standard; going into 2018: B6 Slim Jibun Techo Biz Mini) and Hobonichi Weeks combo. They remain poised to continue fueling my productivity throughout the new year.

 

 

Call to Action

What productivity-related experiences delighted you in year 2017? Suggested a need for tweaks? New-to-you products coercing a sloppy grin or two?

Review. Discover. Tweak. Implement. Ease into the new year, with a smile of sweet anticipation.

 

Footnotes

  1. Don’t misread these words. A blatant refusal to interact with organized religion in no way suggests the absence of spirituality. For those who feel differently, great. I respect your choice. Respect mine.

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