Mentoring Soft-Skills: Time Management and Prioritization: The Bullet Journal

One of my talents that have helped me in the role of various safety leadership positions is the ability to prioritize and execute plans. I may not be able to make a good-looking poster. I may not be able to fix or repair things around the house. I may not be able to create a fun team activity. But, by golly, I can make a dang fine list, prioritize it, and check things off of it. 🙂 HaHa

Safety people have so many competing priorities, it is so easy to become awash in the needs and requests of the organization. It is easy to find oneself treading water rather than swimming to a destination. When we get down to it, everything we do should be in the spirit of helping prevent harm to our people. When thinking about all the safety tasks in that way, everything becomes urgent and important. Yet, we have to come to terms with the fact that we cannot do it all and there is no way we can do it all right now.

It is so easy for a young professional to get tangled up in all the requirements and responsibilities. I have found it vitally important to help guide and mentor with showing methods of helping to declutter and set priorities for the work. Planning is sometimes frowned upon while doing is vastly rewarding. For us to keep ourselves functional, planning is a valuable exercise. You should be able to set a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, and multi-year plan. These planning processes not only help keep the safety programs on the course, but they show other leaders the larger plan that is at work to drive improvement.

I am a big fan of the bullet journal. My iPad, the GoodNotes app, and my Apple pencil have been amazing tools to help me improve the way I organize. During meetings or while performing work, I will take notes of items to remember or to act on. A blue circle is around a bullet is something I want to learn more about or research. A red square means that it is something I have to act on. A green highlight means that I have completed the task. I like that it is both visual and color-coded.

An example of my bullet journal process.

I can import documents and take photos to add to my notes. Some nice premade calendars can be imported and use hyperlinks to take you to various sections of the notes. Generally speaking, I will create a notebook per year and have it roll for the whole calendar.

Having it all digitally prevents me from having volumes of notebooks sitting around as I used to have. I am a lefty, so digital pens assure I do not smear ink all over the notebook or my hands. It has done nothing to improve my handwriting, though. :-). The digital notebook is also backed up to the cloud and has various search features and cross-functional ability to other apps. Over the years, I have tried various forms of apps and methods to help me stay organized and on track. The use of the bullet journal has been just one part of the total process.

I expected this blog post to be encompassing many tools that I use regularly to keep myself on track. These are also tools that I love teaching to others. I was only able to make it through one tool in this post which is a strong indicator of how much I do like organizing and time management. Anyone else an INTJ? As we continue this journey of being safety mentors, it seems that we will be exploring more time management and prioritization tools together. Are you as excited as I am?

Published by Dr. Mark A. French

Husband, Father, Safety Professional, I/O Psychologist, Golfer, and Geek. BS from Murray State University (Chemistry and Occupational Safety). MBA from Bethel University. PhD in I/O Psychology from Capella University.

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