One of the best ways we can prepare our children for future success is to teach them how to get organized. The transition from elementary school to middle school, junior high, and even high school is a tough one for our kids. We can help smooth this transition by teaching our kids to use the bullet journal technique. It is a flexible system that will help our children create order in a new and often overwhelming environment.
What Makes the Bullet Journal Useful for Tweens and Teens
Ryder Carroll’s bullet journal technique took off because so many people who tried the system discovered the value of an analogue method in today’s digital world. Carroll developed his system to help him control his attention deficit disorder.
I use it myself and have found it incredibly helpful for capturing ideas, organizing my thoughts, and prioritizing important tasks. My favorite feature is the index which allows me to find random ideas and thoughts again when I need them.
Why Tweens and Teens Need Structure
When children leave the highly structured, nurturing elementary school environment they often struggle. Many once confident pupils find themselves floundering. Suddenly there are more people, more choices, and more responsibilities. It is easy to feel overwhelmed.
This is where the bullet journal technique comes in handy. It can provide order in a chaotic environment and familiarity in a new, more open system.
Tweens may not be motivated to write as much as adults so a modified bullet journal system may provide the structure they need without too much additional effort.
A Modified Bullet Journal Approach
The 2 Components of the bullet journal system
There are 2 main components of the bullet journal system. They are designed to be modular so the user can adapt the system to his/her unique needs.
The modular components are:
The Collections including:
- The Monthly Log
- The Daily Log
- The Future Log
This technique also gives you the flexibility to introduce your own collections. People create spending trackers, exercise and fitness trackers, food and water diaries, sketching drafts, writing drafts, collections of motivational quotes and goal setting plans. The possibilities are endless.
Here is a post that breaks down the entire system really well if you are new to the bullet journal:
I’m going to talk specifically about modifications for teens and tweens in this post.
The Index is my favorite piece of this system. As a writer I often have ideas I want to get down right away. I may not be able to work on an idea immediately so I need a place to record it so I can find it again. I often have my best ideas in the middle of the night. I used to write them down on a Kleenex in the dark, but the next day these loose tissues would get thrown away before I had a chance to transfer my idea to a more suitable location.
Now, I have my bullet journal on my bedside table each night. This way, all of my ideas are contained in one place. I still write in the dark, but the next day I record the page number of my random thought in the index so I can easily find it again.
Whether your child turns his/her own notebook into a bullet journal or you purchase Ryder Carroll’s pre-organized offering, you will add an index right at the front. Number each page and then record the page numbers of important notes or thoughts so you can find them again.
Tweens are full of ideas. Encourage them to write down their thoughts in a bullet journal. They may want to find them again when they’re a boring adult with no imagination. The index will allow them to do this.
Modification for Tweens and Teens: I would suggest purchasing the custom-designed bullet journal on Ryder Carroll’s website. Here, the page numbers and index are already created for you.
The less tedious work your tweens and teens have to do, the better. I buy Ryder Carroll’s journal as well because I’m too lazy to write down page numbers on every page of notebook. However, if cost is an issue or your child wants to control the entire layout and design of his/her bullet journal, you can adapt any notebook to the system. The cost of the branded journal need not put you off.
The monthly log: In this collection you list the days and dates of one month in a column down the left side of a spread (two pages). Here, you record important upcoming events. On the right you list any tasks or goals you have for the month.
The calendar will give your child a birds eye view of the month and a reminder of important events (like Grandma’s birthday).
To me, the most important part of the monthly log is the list of tasks and goals on the right page of the spread. At the end of the month you must decide what to do with any incomplete tasks. You may wish to migrate them (move them to the next month’s spread. If they aren’t important enough to bother migrating, simply cross them off. You may also decide to schedule them for the future. If you do this, you can list them in your future log.
Modifications: Record calendar activities with abbreviations. HW – homework due, H20 – water, BB – Baseball
Tweens don’t want to write lengthy explanations. Only writing key events will help them learn to prioritize important activities.
Encourage tweens and teens to use the right side of the calendar for goal-setting. This is a great habit to get into at a young age. Start with small, easy to measure goals. As your tweens/teens accomplish these their confidence will grow. Then, you can start adding bigger goals and breaking them down into monthly and weekly action plans.
*Hint: Don’t create the spread for the next month until just before the end of the current month. As your check the task list on the current month you will be forced to decide if the incomplete tasks are important enough to migrate to the next month or if you should just cross them off because they don’t merit the time investment.
The Weekly Schedule
This is not part of the original bullet journal system, but I think it would be helpful for Tweens and Teens. By creating a weekly spread, it will allow your children to focus on upcoming homework assignments and projects and help them organize their time.
Set 1-3 Goals for the week that tie into the monthly goal. This breaks down larger goals into smaller parts and it feels rewarding to put the ‘x’ over the dot and mark them as completed.
The Future Log
I often forget to use my future log for upcoming events. I do try to log in birthdays to remember and review this once a month. I use my future log for big goals.
Does your tween/teen have a big goal? For example,
- Make the freshman volleyball team
- Learn the Moonlight Sonata on the piano
- Perform in a school musical
- Make the honor roll
- Make the all-star softball team
Your Future Log may be a great place to break the goal down into monthly steps so your child knows just what to do each month to increase his/her chances of meeting the goal.
The Daily Log
This is where your child will list his her tasks and activities for the day. Encourage your child to star the most important tasks so he/she will be able to focus on these first. See this link for the proper way to denote the daily log along with specific examples: https://bulletjournal.com/pages/learn
Modifications: Try to limit tasks to 10 items or fewer so your child isn’t overwhelmed or unsatisfied when he/she cannot complete all the tasks on the list. At the end of each day, set aside time to reflect on the tasks and cross out any that aren’t important enough to migrate.
How the Bullet Journal Encourages Imagination and Creativity
One of the most important skills for the 21st century is the ability to think creatively. Our children will face a rapidly changing world with many challenges we cannot even begin to imagine. If our children are flexible and creative they will thrive in this world.
The bullet journal encourages creativity and gives you a place to record all of your crazy ideas so you can find them again.
Artistic tweens/teens will love to turn the Bullet Journal into a beautiful piece of art. It is a great place to hold sketches and experiment with fancy lettering and design techniques. This link to amazing bullet journal spreads will give you many ideas for motivation: https://www.pinterest.com/Sumana/bullet-journal/
Remember, the bullet journal is yours to personalize. There is no need to turn it into a work of art. Mine is boring and full of words because I use it to record all of my crazy, writing ideas. There are also plenty of minimalist styles. If you’re interested in these, check out this link: https://habitsbuzz.com/bullet-journal-minimalist-weekly-spreads/
If your child is a writer, the Bullet Journal (or BuJo as fans like to call it) is a great place to pour out thoughts, feelings, and ideas. The Bujo can hold poetry collections, creative writing samples, and letter drafts. It is a great place to order thoughts for upcoming essays.
Maybe your child loves music. Encourage him/her to record lyrics or song ideas in the journal.
For sports training, create an exercise accountability collection.
Maybe your child wants to save up for an X-box. Use the bullet journal to come up with a plan. Then, create a budget and allow your child to record spending and saving in the journal.
Dress Up the Bullet Journal
For children who enjoy dressing things ups, you can purchase stickers to use in your bullet journal and washi tape to organize posts. I personally don’t do this, but as a teen I would have loved to experiment with creative, scrapbooking techniques in my bullet journal.
This post contains several creative ways to use washi tape with a bullet journal: https://diaryofajournalplanner.com/bullet-journal-washi-tape-ideas/
In our digital world is it nice for tweens/teens to take a break from screens and their endless distractions.
A modified bullet journal might be just the way to help your tween/teen focus, learn to set and accomplish long-term goals, order their thoughts, and encourage their creativity.
If you liked this post, you may find these helpful:
How to Motivate Children to Learn New Skills Without a Daily Battle of Wills
10 thoughts on “The Bullet Journal for Teens (and Tweens)”
This post was so refreshing to read. I think it’s a good idea for kids to use a journal, along with using the bullet journal technique.
Believe it or not, I journal and use a strategy much similar to what you wrote about. I find it works good and helps me stay more organized. So I was flattered to come across this post.
But you make a point- children should start practicing with the bullet journal approach. It would help with stimulating brain activity and creativity.
Thanks for sharing- a great post!
Thank you for your feedback, Eric. It is nice to read a comment from a fellow journal writer.
Thanks for this very informative and important post. Everything I read is very useful and spot on. I appreciate you sharing this information.
Thank you, John.
I LOVE this post. I am big on journaling now as an adult, but I wish I did it more when I was younger. It would have helped me get my thoughts out, make goals, and remember things I needed.
There was so much information and detail in this post. It was great.
Thank you, Jodi. I appreciate your comment. I love journaling as an adult, too.
The bullet journal sounds like an awesome idea for teens and tweens and really anyone else! That is a great way to help them learn organizational skills, practice setting and achieving goals, and using their creative imaginations in new ways. I love seeing ideas that don’t involve a screen and can help them gain practical skills they can use throughout their lifetimes. Thank you for sharing!
I like finding screen-free activities, too. There are so many screens in life already. Thank you for the encouragement!
Wow, great article. So much informative information included here shared by an expert. As parent of three now adult children (raised by two Type A parents), I wish I’d read something like this in the Tweener years.
As it is, the three of them were totally different in their journeys and their strategies. One of them (middle child, haha) was a journaler, indexer, list maker and she still is to this day, very organized. The others are organized in their own ways that work for them, but your info listed here is great.
Pls keep it coming. Best of luck in 2020!
Thank you for your feedback, Kerry. I really appreciate it!