Bullet Journaling for Advisers

[I’m sorry the images are so small! I am having all kinds of issues with the new Apple image file format… I feel another blog post coming on! UGH]

So, I’m the PROUD self-proclaimed queen of sticky notes. I literally cannot imagine my life without them. They’re in my purse, car, kitchen, desk, etc. One time my students even covered my desk in sticky notes as a joke! (Yes, I recycled them!)

My memory is just plain awful and as advisers, we’re often juggling so many things all at once, I just know if I don’t write it down, it’s falling straight out of my brain. Keeping sticky notes e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e helps to be able to write down my thoughts immediately. Because of this awful memory of mine, I use my planner as a crutch and it’s quite literally become my lifeline. If it’s not in the planner, it’s just not happening, bro! My planner helps to keep dates and events organized at a glance, but I often need to make lists or notes that need more real estate. I always ended up with stacks of odd shaped pieces of paper, stickies, index cards, and various scraps… a mess!

So, this past summer I dove into a new method – bullet journaling! I have been doing some serious Pinterest dreaming, going all heart-eyes over other people’s bullet journals. But man, I knew my perfectionist tendencies wouldn’t let that last long. I love me some Instagram worthy layouts, and when I have time, I can make it cuter, but I wanted to focus on functionality first to see if it even worked to help keep everything in one place.

MAN, DID IT WORK!! I affectionately refer to this little guy as my “brain.” (Term coined from my friend Zeek who also uses a similar notebook system for his job.)

This is still a work in progress, so the layouts are a little rough, but I can’t tell you how helpful it has been to have everything all in one place. I keep most of it digitally as well, but I’m just a paper-and-pen person. If I physically write things down (typing doesn’t count), I am more likely to remember it.

I’m ballin’-on-a-budget, so I wasn’t about to drop almost $20 on a notebook I wasn’t sure I would even like. (Although, Moleskin notebooks ARE if you got that kinda cha-ching.) Maybe that’s the real reason I delayed trying the bullet journaling method? [Dave Ramsey would be proud.] WELL, I found a similar one for only SIX DOLLARS at the back to school supplies section at Wal-Mart. (And of course, now I can’t find it online… but there are a TON of cute ones on Amazon!) The paper quality is definitely “just ok” but it was perfect to experiment with. It has an elastic band and a pocket in the back (where I keep one of these 6in protractor thingies for an easy straight edge). Needless to say, that got the gears got moving again and I decided to give it a go. (I’m rewarding myself with a Moleskin when I make it all the way through this first test edition haha!)

Now – first, I feel like I owe you a disclaimer. This isn’t really bullet journaling in a traditional sense. It’s more of a catch-all notebook for #allthethings. But, I couldn’t think of a better name for it, and it does have nuances of bullet journal-esque layouts… so roll with it. 😉

I set up the first page to be a running table of contents. This is mostly for reference pages, but I haven’t kept up with it. I think I’ll probably just skip this in version 2.

Next, I have a log of frequently used school-related passwords. This notebook is with me basically all the time, but I am also careful not to put anything super sensitive here. Mostly social media accounts, vendor accounts, etc. (However, I am so thankful for always amazing Google Chrome and it’s synced browser feature with saved passwords… if you don’t use that, you’re seriously missing out on all the things.)

After that, I made a Plan Ahead calendar. It’s nice to have a bird’s eye view for upcoming events – especially those that require several months of prep time. I’m looking at you, journalism camp.

This next one is still a little ugly, but I LOVE the functionality of the layout. We have monthly birthday parties, so it’s suuuper helpful to have a list of who we’re celebrating at a glance! I had to split this into two layouts to fit them all comfortably, but it works to be broken down by semester.

Just a page of notes about a session I co-taught during InService about photography. I take lots of visual notes… it looks distracting, but it actually keeps me focused and my mind doesn’t wander… as much.

Monthly Calendar. My initial plan for this was to track online articles. We post a new article each day on our website, so the top box would be the staff member’s name and the bigger box on the bottom would be their topic. (Because why do kids expect us to remember their specific page/article topic when we have at least 80 of them being worked on at any given time?)

HOWEVER, lovely Hurricane Harvey had other plans, so now I just wrote our revised print deadlines and called it a day. We’ll pick back up with the online articles in October.

This is a running list of recommendation letter requests. I truly take my time with rec letters, and put a lot of thought into them. I also only write them for kids who I feel deserve the recommendation. I know that sounds heartless and I’m not saying that I wouldn’t write one for a special snowflake if they truly needed it, but I also want kids to know it’s earned and not given. Then, I only consider rec letter requests to be official when I have received their resume or list of accomplishments from the kiddo. I have a TON of kids ask me every year for them – but only receive a handful of resumes. This is a little bit of a filter for the kids who really care about it/need it, vs. me wasting my time writing a bajillion generic letters. This list helps me keep track of who I need to write a letter for, when it’s due, and I’ll cross them off once they’re written.

Yearbook Sales Tracker. Clearly this needs to be filled in, but I thought it would be fun to keep track of where are sales are at the beginning of each month. Pre-Harvey we were doing really well, so I’m curious to see where things will end up. Yes, this is all tracked automatically online, but it’s fun to look at – and motivating!

Football Game photo assignments. I can only have up to 4 photos on the field shooting stadium events like football games, so I need to make sure I have a good mix of seasoned photographers shooting and helping coach the newbies. Also, I have to submit the kiddos names to the stadium ahead of time, so this helps me remember to send that email.

Lastly, this is my never ending to-do list. I rewrite this about twice weekly as stuff gets crossed off and more stuff gets added. Sometimes it’s prettier than others, sometimes it’s a hot mess express. 😉

I have maaany more ideas to bring to life – catch me on Instagram @theorganizedadviser for updates on my bullet journaling adviser adventure! I’ll be posting more layouts and tricks as the year goes on!




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