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04 Jan 2018
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18 Awesome Analog Things to Try in 2018

We all have a special way of closing out the previous year and ushering in the new one. Carl Hooker posted “A Look Back on Bold Predictions of 2017” and Monica Burns created an EdTech Inspiration calendar with “12 Tips for 2018“. I rounded out 2017 with “Calendexes, Productivity Bingo, and Students! Oh My!” which contains a FREE 2018 Calendex and “18 Books Everyone Should Read in 2018” which includes brief and personal reviews of each of the books listed. I have somewhat lapsed on my #ScrapNotes series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 are linked here) which I initiated in 2017 in favor of my Student Professional Development series. Part 5 of the the #ScrapNotes series was to be “The Complete Guide to People, Ideas, and Inspiration”. So I decided to offer all of the inspiration, people, and ideas… just with a slightly different name, “18 Awesome Analog Things to Try in 2018”. Before we dive right in, I wanted to touch on a few points:

  • ANALOG TECHNOLOGIES: I am by no means touting 2018 as the year of analog, but I do feel that analog still has a very real foundation in our personal and professional world. Furthermore… if you look up the word “technology”… it really boils down to “the collection of techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation.” Below are simply “technologies”… they are techniques, methods, and processes that are used in accomplishing a variety of personal and professional objectives. The difference is that they are analog, tangible, and IRL (In Real Life) versus digital. I should also mention that only the first 5 on the list focus on materials or products… the next 13 are more strategies and tools so don’t get too hung up on washi tape and acrylic stamps if that isn’t your thing. ūüėČ
  • SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING: And if you are familiar with CASEL’s core SEL (Social Emotional Learning) competencies, many of these analog gems serve the purpose of exploring and fostering these skills (e.g. self-awareness, self-management, and responsible decision-making).
  • WHET YOUR PALETTE:¬†I should mention I really could spend an entire blog post on each of these topics but in the interest of brevity and the true art of literary restraint… I am going to showcase all 18 in one post. Now that sounds more like a circus feat than an actual skill. :/ Truly my goal is not to be comprehensive but provide a sound jumping off point for a variety of tools and best practices that might be equal parts timely and equal parts tantalizing. Many of these tools and techniques have multiple examples online. For those, I defer to the adage “a picture is worth a blog post” and include a link to one rather than drowning you with a paragraph or two on each one.
  • UNIVERSAL AUDIENCE: If you have been following my “Students Need Professional Development Too” series, then you know that several of the following 18 ideas, tools, and techniques have been shared with secondary students in a variety of fashions. If you engage in writer or reader’s notebooks with your students, then these are also a great fit. But… these tools are certainly not for students alone. I have explored, utilized, and embraced the vast majority of these tools and techniques. So please know they can be easily integrated with students and staff alike.


  1. Analog Journal: I used to scrapbook and journal back in the day and as of a few years ago, I started that process back up and I have to tell you that I just absolutely love it. It helps me stayed organized, focused, and happy. I will tell you that I am not alone in the process. There are multiple sites devoted to the techniques,¬†several Facebook groups, and a slew of Instagram #’s. I don’t actually full “bujo” as I use both a bullet journal and a planner BUT many people do. If you want to get into this, I suggest checking out, bohoberry,com, and I have also curated a Pinterest board of 300+ examples and inspirations. This topic of analog and bullet journaling is a very deep rabbit hole but totally worth it. The best advice I can give you is take note of the ideas you like and want to try… and just try a few. Don’t become overwhelmed.
  2. Instant Camera: I don’t know if it is the nostalgia or the novelty… but a few months ago I bought a Fujifilm Instax camera. What I love about it boils down to two things… the image you get is instant in a tangible way AND since the film is costly and you only get one photo… there is something special and original about the image… one of a kind. I use these to add a little something special to my journal pages and my boys get a kick out of the “printing” and “developing” phases so there’s that too. Here is an example. I have a few others that are actual pictures of people too.
  3. Washi Tape: I would be remised if I didn’t mention this tool. It is basically pretty painter’s tape (not for painting… that would be wasteful) and you can find it almost anywhere from Wal-Mart and Target to Michael’s and even Office Depot and Dollar Tree. I love it for a variety of reasons. I have used it to organize whiteboards and I have used it to create visual distinctions and spaces on the pages in my journals. It is also great if you make a mistake as you can cover it. That tends to be one of the most difficult things for people embracing the analog journal… handling mistakes. You can’t just delete a typo and tearing out a page out of a nice Moleskine or Leuchtturm1917 isn’t an option everyone relishes. Thus, finding creative ways to embrace your mistakes or turn them into art is a bit of a life lesson… washi tape and stickers do wonders for this. If you are interested in the history of this fanciful masking tape that originated 12 years ago in Japan, this post gives more of an overview. You also know you have gone a little wacky for washi… when you start ordering your washi from places like Singapore… but I would know nothing about that. ūüėČ
  4. Planner Stickers, Labels, and¬†Acrylic¬†Stamps:¬†If you are going to go analog, stickers and labels aren’t necessarily a must but definitely really helpful. One of the biggest questions I get asked is about brands. Honestly, I love me some Michael’s and they carry both Jane Davenport’s (@janedavenport) an Dyan Reaveley’s (@dyanreaveley) lines of stickers and stamps. I should also mention both of them are very active on Instagram so you constantly get to see their inspirations and their tools in action. And Dyan’s has some awesome stickers that are intentionally black and white so you can color them. Labels: Labels are helpful to cover mistakes and to denote order on a page. Stickers: I also love stickers to break up the vastness of a page.¬†And honestly… there are very few people that I have met in my lifetime… man… woman… or child… that don’t appreciate a good sticker. Acrylic (or clear) Stamps: These are similar to rubber stamps but much cheaper and you have the ability to combine multiple stamps to make a unique design as they are essentially reusable stickers that are stamps. I have a few of these and am looking forward to exploring them more this year. I should also mention that you can find these pretty much anywhere… even Dollar Tree. Here is a quick run down on clear stamps.
  5. Ephemera: There are those of us that love antiques and the idea of history. Ephemera is essentially something that is fleeting. People create journals from vintage McCall’s patterns¬†or turn images into witty memes or sayings like the book, “Pattern Behavior: The Seamy Side of Fashion”. Ephemera can be analog… Tim Holtz offers an entire collection of these. It can also be digital and then used in digital art. Mischief Circus offers several of these. It is big in the art journaling world… in fact my sister-in-law has multiple examples on her site¬†and has been published in the Art Journaling magazine (which you can pick up at Barnes and Noble). There are also entire Instagram ( accounts and Etsy sites devoted to ephemera. I have¬†curated 100 or so pieces here that can be printed or used digitally. Truly these can be used in collages or a springboard for poetry and creative writing. The lists goes on and on.
  6. Values Exercises: Before you choose one of the activities or tools, below, a values exercise is helpful. It is like a pre-assessment… it gives you a good idea of what you value and what you don’t which is super helpful in what trackers, prompts, and exercises you want to tackle. has a values exercise activity and has an article with a handout embedded that guides through the exercise.
  7. Mission Statement: Mission statements are similar to a value exercise. They are kind of like a compass for you and your year. Some people choose #oneword to guide them. The mission statement just allows you to take that big idea and break it down into its multiple facets. Here is a mad libs like example.
  8. 6 Month Visual Goals: I love goal-setting and visuals seem to make this easier. It is sometimes more difficult to recall your goals when they are lengthy lists versus a series of images. Here is an example from fellow instagrammer @cardigansandchamomille and mine is shown above and linked here.
  9. 10 Minute Journal: I happed on these a few months ago and absolutely love them. Christie Zimmer offers 8 10 minute journaling prompts which are a fantastic place to start. An open-ended journal can be really daunting so this is an easy way to ease into the process. I also love that she includes multiple prompts that result in lists or images not just paragraph text.
  10. Calendex: If you read my last post, then you may have been intrigued with the idea of a calendex (the mash-up of a calendar and an index). I like these for tracking trends. For example, I have already created one for work. My goal was to get a good idea of how many times a month I did each of the following things (e.g. blogged, created something, had a meeting, offered student, staff, or parent professional development). So I created a symbol and color to represent each of these. Honestly, with the calendex… seeing really is believing so I recommend taking a gander at that post as I have included multiple links and examples.
  11. Mood Tracker: Mood trackers tend to be very popular in the analog and bullet journal world. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Since there are so many examples and varieties, I thought it best just to link to a few examples… @organizatecreando, @theblueplanner, @buujoo, @andreasbujo, and¬†@creapassionink.
  12. Doodle a Day: There are several doodle-a-day challenges. I have decided to take a slightly different spin on these. I use a Doodle-a-Day when I am on break for an extended period of time (e.g. medical leave, Christmas, Spring Break, summer) and I draw one image each day to represent what I did that day or perhaps the most memorable event from that day. It is a great way to be reflective and it is so easy to account for your time off in a way that is meaningful. I have included an example of the one I did when I was out in November and the one I am still working on for holiday break (see below).
  13. Productivity Bingo: I totally “borrowed” this idea from @lalalauren.creates on Instagram. The idea is basically creating a to do list as a bingo board and gamifying it. I include more information on this topic and additional examples in my previous post. And there are Productivity Meters too… thanks @the.petite.planner for this one. ūüėČ
  14. Self Care Bingo: If you are focused on mindfulness, this is a great exercise. Basically, it is Productivity Bingo but with ideas that are personal to you to rejuvenate or refresh. I have included an example from @lalalauren.creates, one I developed, and a self care tracker from @kb.creative_.
  15. Year in Pixels: I have seen this idea for 2-3 years and while I absolutely love it, I can’t seem to embrace the habit. The idea is really cool though. It is basically a year’s worth of mood trackers all in one. And it kind of looks like a really haphazard and poorly played game of tetris when you complete it… but it really is such an amazing visual history. Here are two example setups¬†@lalalauren.creates¬†and¬†@alexanndoodles¬†and here is a completed one ala @greenishplanning.
  16. Habit Tracker: Ah the habit tracker. This one is probably as common in the bullet journal realm as the mood tracker. If you want to start doing something or stop doing something, this is a great tool. Recently, I came across this explanation from @decadethirty and I think it is exceptionally valuable no matter what habit you are trying to form and/or what habit tracker tool you are using. Here are two additional examples @buujooo¬†and¬†¬†and a template from Passion Planner’s site.
  17. Sleep Tracker: With all of the research on sleep, it is wise and helpful to actually track it. Yes, there are digital tools that do this. Honestly, there are digital tools for many of these… but too often these tools can be an additional distraction. They may also not include a journaling component and/or they may not track or display the specific or general data that you seek. Here are four analog examples @j.creas,¬†@bulletbyjulia, @kb.creative_, and @rainbowbulletjournal.
  18. H20 Tracker: This is another big one for both students and adults. I can tell you for a fact that I don’t drink enough water. There are a variety of ways to track this. Here is a template from Passion Planner’s site.


You know me… I always like to leave you with a few more nuggets. If you are intrigued or inspired by any of the 18 above, I wanted to share some additional support resources…

  • Research Mindfulness and Journaling:¬†I think the coolest thing about analog journaling, reflection, and habit tracking is how much research is there to support it and how many books I find that tout it. I recently wrote a blog post for the counseling department of our high school that aggregated several bits of research on the impact of journaling which is linked here. There are also multiple books on my “18+ Books Everyone Should Read in 2018” that touch on some of these topics directly and/or indirectly. I have also curated multiple examples and articles on this Pinterest board.
  • Join a FB Group or Check out an Instagram #: Facebook Groups and Instagram #’s happen to be one of the best ways to not only learn more about these “analog” topics and tools but to also connect with others that are trying them. I am seasoning the end of this post with a few of each.
    • Facebook Groups: Bullet Journal School Edition,¬†Bullet Journal Share, Bullet Journaling Tips and Tricks. There is even a Bullet Journal Writers group too!
    • Instagram #’s: In addition to all of the Instagrammers I have highlighted throughout this post, there are some #’s that will lead you closer to the prize: #bulletjournal, #bujo, #bulletjournaljunkies, #journaling, #creativejournaling, #loveforanalogue. I really only use these to find people that share awesome ideas I want to emulate and then after I follow them, I start seeing these people in my feed.



If you are interested in booking Lisa Johnson and/or would like to know more about her speaking history or professional development portfolio‚Ķ visit the¬†TechChef4u speaking page¬†for more info or email¬† And‚Ķ Check out her latest creation‚Ķ the book ‚ÄúCultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students.‚ÄĚ SaveSave SaveSave SaveSaveSaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSaveSaveSave SaveSave SaveSave




20 Dec 2017
Comments: 0

Calendexes, Productivity Bingo, and Students! Oh MY!

We are rapidly nearing the end of the year and with that comes semester exams if you work at a high school (which I do). Last week our school library offered a 12 Days of Stress Relief with a variety of analog activities ranging from bookmark coloring, friendship bracelets, and playdoh to jenga and holiday card making. I decided to reprise my “Bonkers for Bullet Journals” session and augment it for the high school level and a lunch and learn.

Because there was no real direct teach approach to this and students come and go, I set up two tables with supplies (4 tubes of washi tape, 2 packages of planner stickers, and¬†Sharpie art pens and Faber Castell pens) and handouts. I gave a brief overview (2 minutes) of the function and intent of each of the handouts (e.g. calendex, Productivity Bingo, habit and goal trackers, etc…) and then really let them go wild. I have to tell you they were so excited (dare I say… giddy) about the washi tape, stickers, and fancy pens. Out of all of the paper handouts, the two most popular ones ended up being the calendex and Productivity Bingo. As these are not super common in the education realm, I thought I would spend the rest of this blog post highlighting their features and purpose and how you can use them with students.


A¬†calendex is a mash-up of a calendar and an index. It is not meant to be a stand-alone calendar… more to use as a goal setting or goal-tracking tool in conjunction with a planner or bullet journal. The calendex was actually invented by Eddy Hope back in 2013¬†and has since then become a staple in the bullet journal community (check out Boho Berry and Because the bullet journal and analog world is focused on customization and tailoring ideas to make them work for you, I will share a few examples (college student example, teacher example,¬†professional example 1, professional example 2) and then delve into the tips I shared with students.

  • My Adaptation for Students: I took the idea of a calendex and mapped it against our school calendar. I created both a Monday and a Sunday start version. I prefer my week starting on a Monday but some people prefer it on a Sunday so I allowed for choice. The cells that are grayed out are days we have off (according to our district calendar). The cells that are blacked out are days that don’t exist in that month (as each column has 31 cells but not every month has 31 days). The darker line encompasses an entire week. When I shared these with students, I insisted they create a key. I suggested something simple like red dot for days you have a test, blue dots for days you have homework, and a green dot for days you have an event after school. Students really took these and ran with them. I am really looking forward to seeing how they use them this next semester.
  • My Adaptation:¬†For me, I plan on using this to track how I spend my year at work. My plan is something like this… a red dot for meetings, a purple dot for days I create something, a pink dot for days I blog, a green dot for days I work with students, an orange dot for days I work with teachers, and a blue dot for days I offer parent webinars. In this world where too often we wear busy as a badge, I want to be able to at least track the things that I do that are meaningful or that have some sort of impact. And this is simply one way to do that.


Productivity Bingo is a gamified version of a to do list and far easier to explain than a calendex. Basically you create a bingo board and then you fill the board with your to do’s and you designate prizes for yourself if you get all 4 corners or a diagonal bingo. You get the idea. Since this tool doesn’t need as much explanation, I am going to dive right into examples. I have adapted the concept from¬†@lalalauren.creates. She has an example of her Productivity Bingo here and one for Self Care here.

  • My Adaptation for Students:¬†I don’t know that one would use this every week but if you had a large project due with multiple steps and counterparts, an essay where you might want to reward yourself with 500 word increments, or finals approaching where you had multiple items due, this is simply a way to gamify it. When I had a student complete one, I noticed she added items like “annotate chapter 4 To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Spanish 1 Unit Review”, and “1 page Math practice”.
  • My Adaptation:¬†When I had my surgery last month, I created a Productivity Bingo¬†(see below) to make sure I got a few things done whilst I was on “break”… one of which was knocking out 13,000 or so words for my new book. And because I loved it so much (and I had just finished reading “A Book That Takes Its Time: An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness”¬†**), I explored a Self Care one as well.

I should also mention that if you are looking to support CASEL’s Social Emotional Learning competencies, these activities fit nicely into the Self-Management section.

I think the biggest take-away for me from this session was that students wanted more. They loved the casual format with the supplies. And they asked if I could offer a second one after the holidays. With the “12 Days” format, students know what to expect, so I think we will revisit this type of scheduling format when we look at developing professional development for the spring semester. We have already talked about “13 Days of Tech” and a “Wonderful Week of Writing” which might encompass typewriter rodeo, calligraphy techniques, and how to start your own personal writer’s/reader’s notebook or bullet journal.

I truly never sought to write an entire series on professional development for students, but I am finding the more that I offer it to students, the more of it that is needed and wanted. I hope this post has sparked some interest in easy ways to support students with organization, planning, and task management. I also know that many of the resources and processes that I have shared in this Student PD Series can also be adapted to adult learners. And as I have already been asked for a 2018 calendex and there is seriously no reason to buy one… I have created one for you here. The calendex is designed to be printed as 2 pages in 1 on one 8.5 x 11 inch page (printed in landscape). The reason I suggest this is that many bullet journals happen to be an A5 size which essentially means they are 8.25 by 11.5 if they are opened to a two page spread. I just try to mimic a similar size with these handouts for consistency and if they would like to actually add it to their planner or journal.I sincerely hope these make you as happy and jovial about organization and planning as they do me. Enjoy! I only ask one favor… if you end up using them yourself or with your students, I would love to hear about it. You can Tweet me, FB me, Instagram me, or email me Thanks in advance.

Oh… and if you are interested in delving into bullet journaling or analog writing, I have some posts for you here… where to start, how to create a reader’s journal, how to augment analog notes, and supplies to get you started.

** If you are interested in additional book recommendations, check out “18+ Books Everyone Should Read in 2018”.


As you know, I am a firm believer that Students Need Professional Development too. If you are interested in additional ways to design and deliver professional development to students, here are a few more ideas and formats:

Thanks so much for reading. If you do something similar or have questions on this initiative (or any other), please reply in the comments and share ideas as well!


If you are interested in booking Lisa Johnson and/or would like to know more about her speaking history or professional development portfolio… visit the TechChef4u speaking page for more info or email

And‚Ķ Check out her latest creation‚Ķ the book ‚ÄúCultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students.‚ÄĚ









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