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Make Better Decisions in your Bullet Journal with Second-Order Thinking

by Ambassador Team 21 Jan 2024 0 Comments

Hello, my name is Mark Fig, also known as @Mark.Your.Pages and today I am going to share with you a great decision-making tool that you can use in your bullet journal called Second Order Thinking. Most of us are first-order thinkers, meaning we mostly make quick reactionary decisions. We have a problem and then we solve it. However, second-order thinkers take a step back and look at what happens after that first choice. By using this template in your Bullet Journal, you can feel confident in yourself and approach knowing that you were thoughtful about how you went about getting things set up for success. Our topics today will be around Spring Cleaning and specifically around sprucing up your outdoor space. We are going to run our Garden Renovation project through this second-order thinking worksheet, along with our decision to repaint and freshen up our front porch. As we get started, you can download this template and worksheet for yourself here and follow along. 

My supplies for this project:

Set Up Your Page Grid

The first step is to set up your page with a three-column layout in your bullet journal or notebook. At the top of the table, you will leave space for the decision or topic you are deciding about. Inside each column, at the top, you will write 1st, 2nd, 3rd - which stand for first, second, and third-order thinking.  

craft paper page with 3 columns drawn on it


Add Your Topic

To begin, we will write in our topic, which will be “Starting my garden renovation”.

The first thing I want to do with this renovation is to replace all my old mulch in my flower beds. If we were a first-order thinker, would think that this is done. Go out, get the mulch, and solve the problem. But if we ask ourselves that golden question “ and then what” we start to move into second-order thinking.

For me to be able to replace my mulch, I need first to remove the mulch I have there. But how do I do that? Well, I will need yard bags and a shovel to do this… but if I don’t have those items, I will need to get them. 

kraft paper notepad with phrases related to garden renovation with tasks circled

Second-order thinking helps us think beyond the immediate solution and now deeper into the problem, helping us to uncover all the smaller details we might have missed. 


More Examples

Let’s run another more scenarios through this thinking. 

kraft paper pad with phrases on them concerning painting a door for spring cleaning

Now that we have run all of these scenarios through this worksheet, we have the start of a plan and a todo / shopping list. I can’t start my project until I get my shovel and yard bags. Once I have them, I can remove the current mulch and then buy new mulch to lay down. 

Second-order thinking isn’t always about finding a negative. In many cases, it helps support your new ideas by ensuring you are successful. In our last example, we want to repaint the front door. First-order thinkers could go out, buy the paint, and repaint the door. But in this case, second-order thinking helps us to remember that there are HOA documents that we need to review and that there are only a few approved colors. If we hadn’t taken the time to think about this, we might have repainted to door only to find out that it wasn’t approved and changed it again.


Get the downloadable template

Printable template for Second order thinking worksheet

You can use this free template for any decision that you need to make. It doesn’t need to be a huge project or decision, but sometimes the simplest ones are the biggest problem. Use this printable template for yourself and your next decision. Let me know in the comments if this has worked out well for you and how it has benefitted your projects and decisions. 

For more Garden planning, be sure to check out Alex's project!

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