There are plenty of apps, online tools and digital systems designed to keep you organized. But if you love writing things down and the satisfaction of crossing things off a list, keeping a bullet journal might be for you. Ryder Carroll, the creator of the bullet journal, calls the organizational system the analog system for the digital age.
Bullet journals are a hybrid of a to-do list, a planner and a journal. Because you start with a blank journal – usually with dotted or grid paper – you can build the bullet journal to meet your own specific needs. Journals are built using a combination of logs, topics and bullets, and these are all kept organized in the index.
Bullet journal logs are essentially calendars. On his website, Carroll recommends putting a Future Log right after the index. The future log serves as the year at a glance. This is a place to mark down significant dates or events for the upcoming year. You can also add monthly, weekly or daily logs to your journal.
In your logs, you will mark tasks, notes and events with bullets. Use different marks to denote each type of bullet, and make a key. As you complete a task, cross out the bullet. If your day runs out before your to-do list does, migrate tasks to upcoming days. Marking all your completed and rescheduled tasks allows you to quickly see what tasks are still unresolved. Migrating your tasks forces you to notice if tasks are repeatedly being put off until later and might encourage you to re-prioritize your to-do lists.
Ideally, the bullets in your logs will be short and to the point. You can write longer notes on a topic page.
If logs are the calendar, the topics pages serve as a bullet journal’s notebook and journal features. Topics pages allow you to write down more detailed notes than you would in the bullets. Examples of topics pages include listing books you’ve read, planning your exercise routine or keeping track of contact with students’ parents. Habit trackers are popular bullet journal topics, filling in a square each day you accomplish a set goal.
As you are building your journal, number each page. The first page of your journal will serve as its index. As pages fill in, list those topics and page numbers in index so you can quickly find your notes when you need them. So for example, if you take notes at a department meeting, you will know exactly where to find them, instead of searching through half-full notebooks.
The blank book gives bullet journaling a lot of flexibility. Some bullet journalers create an elaborate spread for each day. Others might prefer to focus on their schedule on a weekly or monthly basis. Because you create your pages as you go along, you can also adjust the pages you choose to use as you go along.
Bullet journaling works best if you take a bit of time at the end of each day to cross off and migrate tasks as needed, jot down notes about what happened that day if you’re keeping a daily log, and fill in any habit trackers you are using. Also take out the book at the start of the day to evaluate your tasks for the day and add anything that might not be listed yet.
Sample Education Topics
If your class is small enough, create a page for each student. These can be a home for any special notes, tracking absences, or things to discuss during parent-teacher conferences. If you make notes of any confidential information, such as IEPs, tape a flap of construction paper over the page so outside eyes won’t accidentally see it as you flip through pages.
Books you’ve read
Track the books you read and notes about them to help you quickly recommend books to your students.
From a classroom party to the prom, your bullet journal can keep your party planning notes in one place.
Keep a list of your goals for the year toward the front of your journal so you can see them and reflect on them often. Build pages for specific goals that allow you to track your progress as the year goes along.
You can find inspiration for pages and layout ideas throughout social media, using the hashtag #bujo on Twitter and Instagram. Facebook has several bullet journaling groups, and Pinterest is filled with different topics and designs to include in your bullet journal.