Having to write each task out manually turned a to-do from something I could just file away in an app and forget about into something that I had to manage on a daily basis.
I have tried manual task lists about as often as I try physical journaling. It falls down when I begin to forget to carry the book around, or I start missing things because I forgot to write it down. However, there is not doubting the physical act of having to sort tasks manually each day helps you get things done.
As Jon covers in the excellent article, just the process of bringing tasks to your attention means that “you get around to doing a non-urgent task after forcing yourself to write it out every day for a week”. This timescale also tracks with me and the point at which I would complete a task I would rather not do just to stop having to write it out. 5–7 days is also the point that I would hold on to a task and perhaps decide it didn’t need doing for the very same reason.
This perhaps make you think poorly of bullet journaling, but the same applies to all the fancy apps on the market.
It’s easy to think that an app or to-do list service will take you by the hand and organise your life for you, but if you’re not careful, it can just become an infinite digital locker with a messy collection of notes filed under “forget.”
If you don’t put the work in and review your tasks periodically no app will save you from reaching the very same dead end.
The biggest reason I can’t get on with journaling, bar having to carry around a book, is the fact I can’t make it look as nice as I think I should look. My book is utilitarian rather than filled with delightful sketches and perfect handwriting you see from advocates. The embarrassment of my book is enough to keep it hidden away rather than front and centre like it should be. Thus killing any notion of using a physical book or bullet journaling dead on arrival.