I find myself constantly looking for ways to make more efficient use of my time. Over the years I’ve tried a lot of things: little green memorandum books in the military, electronic assistants, Ecco Pro, day planners, purple program, ToDoTxt … they each had two things in common:

  1. they each worked to some degree
  2. none of them “stuck” and I ended up ignoring them

This year, my wife started something new - and I followed suit. Like seemingly every other netizen, I am now trying the whole Bullet Journal thing. I spent a few hours watching videos trying to figure out what it was all about. The most relevant information seems to be at the official website, but I have found several other places with great ideas. A whole lot of stuff out there seems to be people decorating their little journals - people with way more time than myself and having problems to solve which are clearly different from my own.

After understanding the basic concept and realizing how flexible the system was I decided to stop wasting time and get started. Not knowing whether this would work for me or last longer than anything else, I didn’t want to buy anything. Well, not anything much anyway. I did end up buying a cheap “dot” journal, despite having several ruled notebooks at my disposal. I didn’t bother spending a ton of money on it like other folks seem to ($40 for a notebook? Really?), nor did I buy a bunch of markers and highlighters and stuff - I decided to stick with what I already had.

I’ve been using the Frixion pens for about a year now; they write well, they work great with my Rocketbook (even in color), and overall I just like them. So naturally that is what I used when creating the first 15 pages or so. And again, they worked great - no bleed through, no smearing. No colors, I just stayed with the black for the time being. So far, so good.

This morning I took the journal and laptop out to the back deck to get my day started. I filled a couple of pages while enjoying the weather. And after all the rain we’ve had lately, it was great to just bake in the sun for a bit. But it didn’t take long to realize I was already in trouble. The heat from the sun had already begun to fade/erase ink on the first several pages of my journal. Apparently the ink is not really erasable - it simply disappears with the heat generated by friction when using the eraser. After a bit of research I found that some folks who use the Frixion pens wipe entire notebooks clean by tossing them into a microwave. Oh. My. Goodness. This didn’t bode well, and clearly wasn’t going to work for me. I hunted through my laptop bag for a more “normal” pen and found one I had picked up from a Sheraton at some point in the last couple of decades. It still worked, so I used it in an attempt to trace over what was already lost, and what was still present but I was unwilling to lose.

So here is the rub … Decades ago, while in the military, I used to write everything down in little green Memorandum books. (I am shocked to find them for sale, this many years later, right on Amazon.) Three decades later, I still have those notes. After obtaining a DD214, usage of these were replaced by a Pilot 1000, followed by a PalmPilot Professional, and several other versions including my all-time favorite Palm V. I bought but returned a few other newer models after that, and still have a Tungsten though I never really used it. I have a few of those older models still, but most importantly because I could connect them to and sync with a computer I still have all the notes taken on those devices. I used Ecco Pro for a while, and a few other computer programs as well. Today I still sometimes take notes on my phone and have them sync’d to the cloud. But mostly, after the Palm devices lost their lustre, I went back to good ole composition books and committed stuff to paper. And through all of it, I have managed to not lose any information at all - until attempting to enjoy a morning in the sun with the Frixion pens.

This whole invisible ink thing is probably awesome for spies. But if you are like me and have a tough time remembering anything that happens to go back farther than, say, breakfast - I don’t think I would recommend the Frixion pens.

UPDATE: More than a month later, I’m still using both the Bullet Journal and Sheraton pen. And so far they are working out well for me.