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Bullet Journaling

Welcome to Ask ALSC, where the Managing Youth Services Committee asks leaders in children’s libraries to share their response to an issue or situation.  We hope to showcase a range of responses to topics that may affect ALSC members. If you’d like to respond to today’s topics, or suggest a topic for the future, please leave a comment.

There are so many things on a Youth Services Librarian’s to-do list. Add managing a department and the to-do list gets longer and complex. Attempting to keep to the deadlines efficiently can be stressful. It is helpful to have a good planner system in helping accomplish long to-do lists.

I was always searching for a good way to organize and use a planner to help me accomplish my tasks. I tried various sizes of planners with calendars. Sometimes I felt I did not have enough space to write things. With juggling so many things constantly, my planner never felt adequate. Therefore, I had multiple notebooks and sections for various tasks and projects. The problem then was to locate where the information was stored.

I continued to seek a better way of managing my to-do list. I started hearing whispers of Bullet Journaling. Everyone who talked about it loved using it. I noticed there was a creative aspect to it, but I was not convinced it was for me. When I was in the ILEAD USA: Innovative Librarians Explore, Apply and Discover program, one of the instructors, Beck Tench shared information on Bullet Journaling. I observed her diligent use of the Bullet Journal. I decided to give it a go.

According to Ryder Caroll, founder of Bullet Journal, “Bullet Journal Method is for anyone struggling to find their place in digital age. Bullet Journal Method weaves together productivity, mindfulness, and intentionality into a framework that is flexible, forgiving and, practical.” Ryder Caroll’s website has many tutorials and information to get started with a Bullet Journal.

I have found that Bullet Journaling helps me keep track of things and I can customize it to fit my needs. It allows for a lot of flexibility. My Bullet Journal is very utilitarian. I do use color pens and stickers sometimes but that is about it. If you google “Bullet Journaling” you will see elaborate examples of pages with doodling and various artistic embellishments. There is no one way to use it. You can create it in a way that works for you. My first Bullet Journal was a pocket-sized notebook and I quickly learned that the size did not work for me. My new journal was the size of a notebook and that seems to work the best for me. I also learned I prefer to use a lined journal. To me Bullet Journaling feels like it uses the whole-brain approach.

Bullet Journals various sizes. Photo by Uma Nori, ALSC
Photo by Uma Nori, ALSC

When I was new and started doing it, I found numbering my pages tedious. Now it does not faze me at all and I find it amazing. I love it, because this method works well for me in practice. The index at the beginning of a bullet journal is very helpful in locating the information in the bullet journal. My bullet journal has become a lifeline. Previously for conferences and meetings I would use separate notebooks to take notes, now I use my bullet journal to take notes. That way, everything is in one place.

In my experience it is important to find a planner system that works for you and stick with it. Give it time, grow with it, let it fit you.

I would like to find a good way to organize my emails and inbox. I have read about and attended some sessions but have not yet found a good method that would work for me. My desk at work has a lot of papers. I do organize them, yet they multiply. In all the chaos my bullet journal seems like a calm, focal point for me to accomplish the things that I need to get done.

Do you have a good system to manage your emails or paper clutter? Share below!

Works Cited: Carroll Ryder. The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past Order the Present Design the Future. Portfolio/Penguin 2018.

Bullet Journal. Accessed 1 February 2023.

Today’s blog post was written by Uma Nori, Head of Youth Services at Thomas Ford Memorial Library in Western Springs, IL, on behalf of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee. She can be reached at

This blog relates to ALSC Core Competencies of VI. Administrative and Management Skills; VII. Professionalism and Professional Development

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