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Opinion Editorials

My experience with the Bullet Journal method (editorial)

(OPINION EDITORIAL) After nearly 6 months of Bullet Journal usage, here’s what I’ve learned about myself and my professional life.

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A list does not an organized person make

I am a list maker. A list lover. A list connoisseur.

Before I even knew the Bullet Journal method existed, I owned and collected journals like my ten year-old self once collected Beanie Babies. I loved each one for exactly what it was, and used each for a very specific purpose. One was for bucket list goals, one for recording positive change and progress, another for my calendar and to do lists, one was an actual diary – I could go on. Because I am a crazy person.

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Dipping a toe

The Bullet Journal method was perfect for my list-writing shenanigans, and of course, the strange love I have for my own handwriting. It basically consolidated all eight of my journals into one mega-journal to rule them all. Rad.

Plus, the amazing stuff people are doing with these things is cute as hell. Consider me inspired.

bullet journal instagram
images from bujoinspire

Six months of BuJo later

And now, after nearly six months of Bullet Journal usage, here’s what I’ve learned about myself.

1. I needed it.
Splitting my life into seven journals was not as convenient as Voldemort makes it out to be. Having everything in one spot was actually really, really helpful.

I mentioned above I am a crazy person, so for transparency’s sake I confess that in addition to all my journals, I also kept about five different calendars in various places (work, home, desk, by my getting ready mirror, in my purse). Having a SINGLE journal in which to log my dates, appointments, and reminders was revolutionary. Before I planned for my week, a simple skipping around in my BuJo helped me ensure that I didn’t miss anything.

2. I don’t have time for this.
Not to brag, but I’m busy as hell. This happens when you’re very, very important. Sometimes even when you’re very, very unimportant. I won’t tell you which I am!

Maybe naïve, but I had stars in my eyes looking at the gorgeous charts, habit trackers, ink lettering, and handwriting challenges splayed across various BuJo Instagram accounts.

I really hoped I would eventually get the hang of the habit, but I simply don’t have 30 minutes to dedicate to the delicate, wispy tendrils of the “y” in Tuesday.

bullet journal instagram
images from bujoinspire

3. I can’t change who I am.
As much as I want to be the person who plans her work outfit the night before (trust me, I try once every couple of years and last no longer than a few days), regularly incorporates Pinterest recipes into my dinner plans (I prefer the “pin-it-and-forget-it” approach), and doesn’t go through “phases” of regularly not flossing (much like a 15 year old boy) – I just can’t.

Having a Bullet Journal doesn’t change that. It keeps me organized, yes. But it doesn’t change who I am or what my priorities are.

Positive lessons learned

Even after publicly admitting all of this to you, I’m going to keep using my Bullet Journal. It may have not changed me or made my teeth whiter, but here’s what it has done:

If I procrastinate on a task, it’s stuck in there forever. The task doesn’t go away. It doesn’t suddenly get crossed out by a Get Shit Done Fairy. When I finally get to it, even if it’s months later, I feel awesome.

I don’t forget as much stuff. I have a record of when I worked, sometimes even how I felt, occasionally what I ate. That’s cool.

I get to try out new habits. And sometimes they stick. Sure, my habit trackers aren’t pretty. But they are efficient.

I can make it my own. There’s no wrong way to BuJo. And I think that’s what I want to end this with. You can make it beautiful, you can make it ugly, you can do straight lines or crooked lines or spell everything incorrectly. Your charts, methods, checklists, and words are your own. And that’s pretty powerful.

#BuJoMethod

Jenna keeps the machine well-oiled as the Operations Coordinator at The American Genius and The Real Daily. She earned her degree in Spanish at the University of North Texas and when she isn't crossing things off her to-do list, she is finding her center in the clean and spacious aisles of Target or rereading Harry Potter for the billionth time.

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Opinion Editorials

The opportunities and obstacles of overemployment in American culture

(EDITORIAL) Hustle culture is the highlight of the American workplace culture, but there are both pros and cons to overemployment.

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Coffee cup with side hustle written on it representing overemployment.

Simple truth. It costs a lot to get by today. And the extras? Whew.

Vacation? Side hustle.

Those cute shoes? Sell something.

New car? Wait a year until there are more cars on the lots, but while you’re waiting, make some more money.

Overemployment enters the discussion, and it’s something business owners and employees need to understand.

Side hustles aren’t new. Working multiple jobs to pay down debt or just get by? Also not new.

Overemployment, according to those who engage in the practice, isn’t a side hustle at all. It’s a completely different mindset. A second (or third, fourth, and fifth) job.

And the explosive growth in remote work has helped lead to more overemployment.

Back in the olden days, aka a decade ago, overemployment meant you were working more hours than you wanted in the one job you worked.

Today, not so much. Today overemployment can mean the side jobs you work for the extras you want or the debt you’re paying down or just to make ends meet because living expenses are high right now.

Or as overemployed.com says,

“a community of professionals looking to work two remote jobs, earn extra income, and achieve financial freedom.”

This new somewhat norm of creating multiple streams of income has both pros and cons. Regardless, experts say it’s here to stay.

The pros of overemployment for companies are self-evident.

In a world where jobs are plentiful but the workforce isn’t necessarily, knowing you can hire someone who already has another job is helpful. If the job you offer is more of a side hustle scale, even better.

There’s also the added benefit of employees learning skill sets in their second jobs that they can bring back to their first employer.

Then there’s the specialty skill job force like tech where demand is high, but available skilled employees are not. That’s changed, though, with remote. Suddenly skilled tech workers can work for multiple companies, sharing their expertise and earning more.

Which brings us to the pros for workers. Suddenly you have options when it comes to work. You have multiple streams of income and can look for others if some aren’t working out.

Getting that email that your department is closing and there won’t be a place for you isn’t as rough when you have another source of income.

Liquidity is nice and with overemployment you have an opportunity to live that life.

Paying down debt, investing, increasing savings, all of that is easier when you have a second job.

But it’s not all roses in the overemployment world.

A lot of people are taking second and third jobs because they have to pay the bills. Child care expenses are thousands a month. Food, fuel, housing, everything is more expensive. The one paycheck that covered your lifestyle before suddenly doesn’t and you’ve cut corners until there are no more corners to cut, so a second job isn’t an option. It’s a must.

And when that happens, the positives of overemployment suddenly turn negative. Stress and mental health issues increase, and with that, physical health is at risk as well.

And employers bear the brunt of those over-worked employees with absences and less than stellar work.

Overemployed people who love the OE lifestyle say the key to making it work is working multiple jobs at once. For those earning the paycheck, that’s nice. For the employer paying, as long as the work is solid and done, also nice. But multitasking has its pitfalls.

A 2021 Cleveland Clinic article showed,

“When our brain is constantly switching gears to bounce back and forth between tasks – especially when those tasks are complex and require our active attention – we become less efficient and more likely to make a mistake.”

Something both employees and employers must keep in mind.

Overemployment isn’t going away. Employers need to know where they stand. Are they okay with employees working other jobs at the same time they’re working for them? Employees need to know if their employer has a problem with that.

The workforce is changing. Overemployment is one more way.

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Opinion Editorials

Remote work or no work? Concerns about WFH vs. returning to office

(EDITORIAL) There is an ever-growing divide and concern between employers and employees regarding policies over work in office or from home.

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Work in office with headphones on, making use of flexible four-day workweek.

When the pandemic started and work from home become the uncomfortable-at-first norm, no one knew exactly where the idea of remote work for office jobs was headed.

We know now, and the office just isn’t all it was cracked up to be.

From better views and healthier lifestyles to huge decreases in childcare costs, transportation, and wardrobe expenses, many workers say they’re not interested in going back, and some bosses aren’t happy. Other managers and owners aren’t giving their employees a choice. The remote exception is gone.

In March, Apple CEO Tim Cook told employees to be prepared for a return to their campus in a hybrid model this week.

“We will begin the hybrid pilot in full on May 23, with people coming to the office three days a week — on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday — and working flexibly on Wednesday and Friday if you wish,” he said in a memo sent to staff in April.

Cook is not alone. Across corporate America, management is insisting employees return to the office.

Even President Biden chimed in during the State of the Union speech saying,

“It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again,” Biden said. “People working from home can feel safe to begin to return to the office. We’re doing that here in the federal government. The vast majority of federal workers will once again work in person.”

A Good Hire survey of 3500 American managers shows 75% of managers want a return to the office even though they said productivity did not decline during work from home. 51% believe their employees want the same thing. However, a Future Forum survey by slack found just 17% of employees want to return to the office daily and only 34% of employees want a hybrid model.

The reasons for the disconnect are plenty.

Mother.ly contributor Beau Brink shared in a column last July about the impact Work From Home has had on her employee resource group for people with disabilities, neurodiversity, and invisible illnesses.

“Even though 2020 had been hard, the upside was that we were managing our conditions better.”

Women bore much of the weight of moving work out of the office when the pandemic started.

Overall, women lost a net of 5.4 million jobs during the recession caused by the pandemic—nearly 1 million more job losses than men.

When some who had lost their jobs found new work from home employment, they also found a new perk. A raise because they no longer had to pay high childcare costs.

Employees cite better health as a reason they want to continue working from home as well. COVID numbers ebb and flow, but it’s more than that, they say. They’re able to work out, eat a more nutritious diet, and set a more casual, less stressed schedule.

In her mother.ly column, Brink brings up the fact that the company she worked for actually did better in the transition to working from home. As the Good Hire survey showed, most companies saw the same success.

“Why any CEO would push for a move backward in the name of collaboration makes my head spin.”

The why’s are many. And indicative of a possible shift in how we view work.

If most work moves to remote permanently, are employees entitled to the same benefits they’ve seen in the past? Are they actually employees or contractors?

Those questions will have to be answered. We were on the path to having to answer them before the pandemic.

Remote work isn’t new. The pandemic just pushed it to the norm, but even before COVID, technology changes were opening remote opportunities for employees.

In the Good Hire survey managers who said productivity actually increased also showed a distrust of remote work in general.

Right now though, the survey says,

“As long as there is a talent and labor shortage, employers will still have to be flexible, and even in 100% back-to-the-office situations, workers will still be able to negotiate some remote working scenarios.”

For over two years forced remote meant comfy clothes and fresh air. Will that change? We’ll see.

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Opinion Editorials

Shady salary transparency is running rampant: What to look out for

(EDITORIAL) Employees currently have the upper hand in the market. Employers, you must be upfront about salary and approach it correctly.

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Man holding money in the dark representing false salary transparency.

It’s the wild wild west out there when it comes to job applications. Job descriptions often misrepresent remote work opportunities. Applicants have a difficult time telling job scams from real jobs. Job applicants get ghosted by employers, even after a long application process. Following the Great Resignation, many employers are scrambling for workers. Employees have the upper hand in the hiring process, and they’re no longer settling for interviews with employers that aren’t transparent, especially about salary.

Don’t be this employer

User ninetytwoturtles shared a post on Reddit in r/recruitinghell in which the employer listed the salary as $0 to $1,000,000 per year. Go through many listings on most job boards and you’ll find the same kind of tactics – no salary listed or too large of a wide range. In some places, it’s required to post salary information. In 2021, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect in Colorado. Colorado employers must list salary and benefits to give new hires more information about fair pay. Listing a broad salary range skirts the issue. It’s unfair to applicants, and in today’s climate, employers are going to get called out on it. Your brand will take a hit.

Don’t obfuscate wage information

Every employer likes to think that their employees work because they enjoy the job, but let’s face it, money is the biggest motivator. During the interview process, many a job has been lost over salary negotiations. Bringing up wages too early in the application process can be bad for a job applicant. On the other hand, avoiding the question can lead to disappointment when a job is offered, not to mention wasted time. In the past, employers held all the cards. Currently, it’s a worker’s market. If you want productive, quality workers, your business needs to be honest and transparent about wages.

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