Before becoming a freelance writer and blogger, I worked in the public education system full-time, first as a middle school/high school psychologist and then as a classroom English teacher. While teaching, I coached middle school track. I currently contract with my old school part-time as an instructional coach. My husband is a middle school principal. Our nephew is a teenager and our nieces were teenagers but now one is in college and the other working as a teacher.
Needless to say, even though my own boys are only seven and four, I’ve been around a lot of adolescents and teens in my life. One thing I repeatedly notice is that when teens are disorganized, they not only perform poorly academically but they experience significant anxiety.
With Bullet Journaling working so well for me and others, why not use it with teens?
A couple of my readers have asked what I thought about using the Bullet Journal system with teenagers, so I thought I would do a little research and offer some advice if you decide to use this system with your adolescent.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Bullet Journal system, you may want to hop over to Bullet Journal 101 or Bullet Journal DOs and DON’Ts before reading this post for general info. Information about what supplies you will need and where to buy them can also be found on those two posts.
Today I want to focus on how we can use a Bullet Journal to help teens. I hope this post is helpful and if you know a teenager who is using this system already, I would love some comments about how it’s going and what’s working or not working.
A lot of traditional planners and school agenda books are awkwardly formatted and don’t jive with a teenager’s day. Nor does the format resonate with their young, vibrant personalities, so I feel like the Bullet Journal has a lot of potential to really help this age group.
First, I want to share the benefits of getting the teen in your life organized so you will see why it’s so important they find a system that works for them. According to schoolcounselor.org, students spend up to 35 hours a week at school plus several hours per night on homework or sports/club practices. These hours exceed those worked at a full-time job, so it’s imperative we help these young folks organize their lives.
Positive Benefits of Getting Organized
- Academic success
- Less anxiety
- Increased self-esteem
- More efficient use of time
- More productivity
- Less fighting within the household
- Development of positive long-term habits
With all of those positive benefits, who wouldn’t want to get their teen organized. You may have tried other systems in the past, but below I offer why I think the Bullet Journal would work really well for this complex time in a person’s life.
Why a Bullet Journal?
1). It’s open-ended: With lines, boxes, verbiage and calendars everywhere in traditional planners and agenda books, there’s absolutely no room for personalization. Teenagers can make their Bullet Journals their own.
2). It lends itself to creativity and self-expression: Many teens love to draw, write songs, doodle and journal. These forms of self-expression are imperative for a young person’s emotional and cognitive development. With the pages in a Bullet Journal being blank, there is plenty of room for teens to do this. Teens can even decorate the outside with stickers. Ensure they have a lot of colorful pens, colored pencils, Post-its and tabs to make the Bullet Journal more fun and lively.
3). It’s small and trendy: I don’t know about your teen but the ones I know don’t think it’s very cool to carry a cheesy planner or a school agenda with a giant mascot on the front. The Bullet Journal is small and trendy. Students can throw it in their backpack or carry it in a purse and it’s there whenever they need it.
Now that we know why a teen would like a Bullet Journal, let’s talk about some tips and tricks as far as using the system for this age group.
Tips for Teen Bullet Journaling
1). Guidance: Offer a lot of guidance initially. The system can be overwhelming at first, so start slowly and help your teen find a system that works. Slowly pull back and let the Bullet Journal become his or her own. It would be helpful for the teen and an adult to watch Ryder’s videos on bulletjournal.com together just to get the basic system down.
2). Brainstorming: Before getting started, have the teen brainstorm areas of his or her life that feel disorganized or out of control. Prioritize them and work on the top priorities first. Then begin adding the next item on the list then the next and so on. Meanwhile, the teen can be drawing and doodling and doing the things he or she enjoys while working to organize the “trouble” areas.
3). Habit trackers: I think the habit tracker component has huge potential for teenagers. Because every teenager’s day is different, a habit tracker can be completely tailored to fit individualized needs and help an adolescent be much more productive. Below I created a sample teen habit tracker that involves getting to school on time, completing homework, remembering necessary items and materials, etc.
4). Collections: Collections are pages where people record books they’ve read, songs they love, quotes that inspire, video games they want to buy, etc. You can help your teen come up with different collections based on their personalities and the things they enjoy. During school breaks, weekends and summertime, you can encourage them to revisit their collections to remind them of books they want to read, movies they could watch on Netflix or video games they could save up for.
5). The BuJo as glue: Adults can get away with only using a Bullet Journal for everything. I know I have, but teens won’t be able to do that because they will still have their notebooks for individual classes. Help them view the Bullet Journal as the glue that brings everything together but continue helping them get their notebooks and other items organized.
6). Be patient: As with any new habit, it takes at least 21 days if not longer for it to stick. Be patient with your teen and help them make using their Bullet Journal a habit. The hope is that eventually it will internalize and they will need less and less direction, guidance, and prompting.
Organization is a skill that benefits people forever. It’s not something we stop needing once we are out of high school and college. Helping teenagers get organized now will help them for the rest of their lives. If previous systems, planners, and agendas haven’t worked, why not try the Bullet Journal. It’s worked for me when nothing else has.
I may not be a teenager as far as my age goes, but my brain felt extremely disorganized before using my Bullet Journal. I can vouch that if used well, it can be a life changer.