The Translation Bullet Journal

The Translation Bullet Journal is quite simply our own (Letrário’s) adaptation of Ryder Caroll’s method to the reality of translators and to all those who work with translations on a daily basis.

The use of paper to make to-do lists is a long-standing practice. But a new method, developed by American author and digital product designer Ryder Carroll promises to simplify and standardise the notes we make, applying a system that he calls Bullet Journal.

As a child, Caroll was diagnosed with ADHD. At that time, there was no such thing as the Internet, apps or operational resources to make life easier for him. So he decided to create his own method for organising tasks; a method that would correspond to the way his mind worked. 

It wasn’t that Carroll couldn’t concentrate but, rather, that he concentrated on too many things simultaneously. Originally created purely for his own personal use, this analogue system, which actually helped him cure his ADHD, became popular among Carroll’s friends. This led him to consolidate the project by creating the website https://bulletjournal.com.

Here at Letrário, we tried using the Bullet Journal for a week and we ended up making a habit of it. We found that the system helps us keep track of our daily tasks and prioritise them more easily; at the same time, it provides us with a base methodology that we have no wish to deviate from and which is clearly visible. 

Asterisks

    • The use of asterisks, which we will discuss later, allows you to prioritise tasks that may have arisen after others but which have to be completed first – this would apply to urgent jobs. 

Fixed collections with tasks

    • You can also create fixed collections with tasks that always have to be carried out, like those of a protocol. For example, when you are translating or revising, it is useful to bear in mind that we should stick to the rules of a particular style guide, such as eliminating unnecessary capital letters and unwanted expressions. 
    • We should also check any language-specific aspects, such as the use of punctuation (e.g. hyphens, quotes, inverted commas, abbreviations, etc.) and units of measure (e.g. the imperial system versus the metric system). 
    • Other elements that could be included in this checklist are specific terminology that needs to be standardised in order to ensure consistency, and the formatting of the documents, which should be done at the end and which may involve such things as checking paragraphs, bold type, italics and underlines.

The Translation Bullet Journal has gained fans here at Letrário.

After a while, all it takes is a quick glance to be able to see what has already been done and what hasn’t. The Bullet Journal affords a very practical

method of visualising information and the tasks that arise over the following days. It also makes it easy to monitor workflows, which become more accessible precisely because they are logged in a uniform manner.

So what’s the point of this methodology?

The Bullet Journal methodology is simple and user-friendly; it aims to help people have purpose in the goals they set, giving them meaning and promoting productivity: Carroll speaks of “Tracking the past, organising the present and planning the future”. 

You don’t need to buy a specific or flashy notebook and it doesn’t matter if the paper is lined or plain, dotted or squared.

Steps to create your Translation Bullet Journal

  1. The first step to get your system up and running is to create an index by writing “index” at the top of the first two pages. Apart from the index pages, all the other pages in your notebook should be numbered. 
  2. The second step is to create a record for future tasks (the “future log”). One way of doing this is to divide up the pages with lines to create a space for each month. 
  3. The third step is to create an individual record for each month (the “monthly log”). This will comprise a calendar on the left-hand page and a list of the month’s tasks on the right-hand page. 
  4. Lastly, you need to create the “daily log”, which involves writing the date at the top of the page, followed by that day’s tasks, events and notes. 

The key for the analogue system is as follows: 

. – A simple dot . indicates the tasks to be carried out. 

X – An x through the dot indicates a task is complete. 

/ – And any tasks that are no longer worth doing are simply scored out.

O – Events are indicated by a circle O

– and a dash – identifies notes. 

* – An asterisk * beside any task indicates its importance, meaning that it has priority or is urgent.

-> At the end of each month, it is useful to leaf through the notebook to see which outstanding tasks should be carried forward. These tasks will migrate to the following month and are indicated by a right-arrow.

The ones that are to be carried out later, in other months, will be added to the space for the month in question in the future log.

You can watch a video describing how to create your Bullet Journal here.

Less is more: the aim is to take note of the tasks in the form of direct and concise topics. There’s no point in having more time to write more and expand your tasks needlessly. 

Although the notebook is, to a certain extent, personal (in a professional context), it can also be consulted by any member of the team, if necessary. The monthly logs and the migration of tasks have turned out to be valuable resources, since they give us a clear perspective of the future, letting us navigate the notebook and, by analogy, our work, without any concerns. 

We have applied this concept to the professional context but it can also be used in many other day-to-day situations. You can create a Bullet Journal for brainstorming, for routine, for your personal goals and resolutions, for your finances and even for your health. 

Give it a try and discover how useful the Bullet Journal can be! We are already seeing the benefits of our Translation Bullet Journal.