“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

– Malala Yousafzai

In August 2016, a survey was fielded among professional project managers, giving us some terrific findings about how those who work in project management use their Bullet Journals. In that survey, more than 215 project managers shared insights on how projects are managed, tracked and recorded.
In December, we fielded a similar survey to those working in the education sector. More than 300 educators ranging from first-year kindergarten teachers to tenured university professors to public school superintendents, provided insights into how they are using a Bullet Journal on the job and the difference it makes for them in their careers.
One of the questions I often see on the Facebook group for Bullet Journal Professionals is whether to assign the same journal for both work and personal use. We began our survey with this question and, as you can see by this chart below, more than two-thirds of educators (62%) stated they use the same journal for both work and personal. 27% of educators use separate journals for their work and personal activities. And, about equally divided, educators either used a Bullet Journal solely for personal or work purposes at 6% and 5% respectfully.

Bullet Journal for Teachers

As we saw with project managers back in August, educators were split evenly at 50% on the question about whether a Bullet Journal is a sole method for organization and task management.

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For those who use a Bullet Journal exclusively, survey respondents indicated the top uses include:

Notes and Notetaking – 16%
Journaling – 11%
Planning – 9%
Ideation – 9%
Tracking – 7%
Collections – 6%

The variety of professions in education is quite numerous. Most everyone knows that teachers play a huge role in K-12 education. However, there are many other career paths. According to the US Department of Labor, the number one sector for employment is in elementary and secondary schools. Further, four of the top twenty-five sectors are in the broad education field.1
From our survey among educators, 74% surveyed are full time professionals and K-12 teachers made up 38% of the job titles. 24% of those answering our survey identified themselves in the “Other” category. Some job titles named here included speech pathologists, music instructors, university lecturers, nurse practitioners, curriculum developers and many more.
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US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2014 Educators have jam-packed schedules with little downtime during the day. So we wanted to know, with these demanding schedules, do educators still find time to work daily in their Bullet Journals. We were not disappointed.
A full 85% of educators surveyed stated they use their Bullet Journal on a daily basis. Another 10% answered they used their Bullet Journal at least weekly. So, in spite of their challenging and dedicated schedules, 95% of educators are using their Bullet Journals at least weekly or daily to better organize their lives. This exceeds the percentage of time that project managers use their Bullet Journals by 10 points, based on our August 2016 survey of that profession.

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Here’s the interesting point about all of this Bullet Journaling: a full 93% state that using their Bullet Journal as an educator makes their lives easier or significantly easier. This statistic is a very convincing leading indicator of the effectiveness of the Bullet Journal as an organization and management tool in the education profession. As one educator noted, “I find it difficult to track all of my classes and schedule in any other system (other than the Bullet Journal.)”

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In an open-ended question, we asked educators to share with us about what was logged in their Bullet Journals. We wanted to discover how Bullet Journals were making their professional lives easier to manage. The answers were as widely ranging as job titles in education. Meeting Notes is the most used purpose for the Bullet Journal among educators.

The top ten list of uses includes:

Meeting Notes – 31%
Log – 16%
Schedule – 15%
Daily Tasks – 14%
Lesson Plans – 13%
Task Lists – 10%
Parents – 7%
Events – 7%
Professional Development – 6%
Tracker – 5%

As much as we track and log so much about our daily lives in our Bullet Journals, there are still activities and matters that are not recorded. We asked educators what aspects of their job were not captured in their Bullet Journals. Surprisingly, we saw that several items which were noted by some educators as most often tracked are also noted by other respondents that are NOT tracked.

The top ten list of matters that are not typically captured in respondents Bullet Journals include:

Contacts – 34%
Notes – 23%
Students – 18%
Lesson Plans – 15%
Attendance – 5%
Logs – 4%
Reports – 3%
Appointments – 2%
Research – 2%
Grades – 2%

While we are all aware that the core Bullet Journal modules – Index, Future Log, Monthly Log and Daily Log – are ideal building blocks, we wanted to understand how educators felt about these and what they were using on the job. When asked about the modules of the Bullet Journal, 45% of educators said they were using all four modules and less than 4% of educators stated they were using none of the original modules. The percentages here seem to suggest that the system that Ryder Carroll created has merit for educators.

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When asked which module specifically has the biggest impact on their day-to-day job as an educator, by far and away the biggest winner here was the Daily Log with 65% of educators surveyed indicating this module is most relevant. The Daily Log is followed by the Monthly Log at 18% relevancy and the Future Log trailing behind at 7%.

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Beyond the core modules, the pages and spreads used by educators are quite varied as noted in the word cloud below. While many of these are to be expected, some of the more creative answers from educators included pages to record reading lists, meetings with school board members, funny things that students say, a scrapbook of student drawings, daily affirmations, rehearsal planning, inventory lists, educator tools, research, writing prompts and so many more. An educator’s day is never dull or short of things to track and record.

Summary

The American philosopher and education reformer, John Dewey, stated, “Education is not preparation for life. Education is life itself.” The Bullet Journal method that we know and use was created by Ryder Carroll to help him focus and become more successful in learning and life.
As noted several times in this article, an educator’s schedule is very demanding. But as this survey shows, the Bullet Journal method is relied upon by educators to organize and manage their professional lives. As one educator noted about its advantages for organization, “My Bujo replaces everything I used to write down on a million pieces of paper!”
There are so many essential tools – many of them digital – for educators these days. But like Malala Yousafzai’s quote at the beginning of this article, a pen and paper-based system can indeed enhance productivity and often change the world. Education is a noble profession but one that can be enhanced with the method that Ryder created for himself and appreciated by us all.
Coming up this year, be on the lookout for surveys that will be fielded to investigate other industry sectors and how professionals are using a Bullet Journal to improve their productivity and organization on the job. Until then, Happy New Year … and Happy Bullet Journaling!

Header image by: Holly Mindrup

About Todd Foutz

Hello Pros! I’m Todd Foutz, head of marketing and business development for an advertising agency. I write about people, like me, who use their Bullet Journal on the job, planning their busy days and nights and meeting their career goals and job requirements. My mission here is to unite and bring ideas to a community of professionals who use their Bullet Journals to be more successful on the job. Let’s go, Pros!
  • bugrchl

    Q2 is ambiguous – it could be understood to mean “Do you use only the Bullet Journal method and nothing else for organization and task management?” or “Do you use the Bullet Journal method only for organization and task management and not for anything else?” Who knows which of those questions each respondent thought s/he was answering.

  • Sarah W

    The “word cloud below” doesn’t seem to be showing up for me. Am I the only one having that problem, or was it missed in the post? (Higher Ed Student Affairs professional here, definitely interesting to see how other non-teaching educators use their Bullet Journals.)