3 ways to organize content in a bullet journal
The main interest of the bullet journal concept (in my opinion) is that it allows to keep all kind of information in the same notebook (using the index and signifiers) instead of having a whole bunch of notebooks with special use. No more lost notes, a complete history of events and tasks and the possibility to manage daily tasks and long term projects in the same book.
But when so many different information are mixed up, it may become difficult to locate the collection you’ve been looking for for hours or this note you remember without being able to find it…
Here’s a review of 3 hacks that help me to figure it out!
1. Creating sections in the index
Keeping an index is mandatory to be able to easily browse through your bullet journal pages. I’m using a Leuchtturm 1917 notebook that features a built-in index, but it is of course super easy to create an index in any notebook (as long as you give each page a number to have something to refer to).
Generally, I have two kind of content in my bullet journal: monthly, weekly and daily logs, and collections (goals, wishlists, projects plannings…). The main purpose of the index is to find the content you’re looking for as quickly and easily as possible, and I started creating sections to make it even more efficient.
The first page of my index is for monthly and weekly spreads.
The first page of my index is then dedicated to all the “schedule” pages. I create a mini table for each month with monthly pages on the left and weekly logs on the right.
The rest of my index is organised by project or topic : all my home decor collections are in the same section, and so it is for my blog related pages, knitting and sewing projects… As all my collections can’t be categorize, I also have a section that gather all these non categorized pages.
To be honest, I update my index once a month. It’s really enough as a rhythm, as I’m using the edge indexing for my everyday needs. I also take advantage of the limited amount of pages of my notebook (121) and regularly browse through the pages to find (and it’s usually quick enough) the page I’m looking for.
2. Using edge indexing
I discovered the edge indexing system on Ros’s blog (aka @bluepapertrail) for the first time.
The idea itself is pretty simple: create thematic categories to organise the content by marking the edge of the page so that you can find all the content related to one of your categories in a few seconds.
I think this system is super efficient if, just like me, you work chronologically in your journal and if you take notes or write ideas down amongst your dailies. Daily notes don’t necessarily call for a collection, but it surely can be useful to be able to find them as needed.
So, when I’m taking notes or jot down ideas in my journal, I mark the edge of the page with little piece of black masking tape (if you’re not as perfectionist as I am, a pen will do as well) referring to my edge indexing key at the very end of my notebook.
I’m using a various number of categories, but some of them are still there after several notebook migration:
- sewing & knitting (measurements notes for my projects, knitting progress tracker…)
- home decor projects: (ideas, plans with furniture configuration, shopping lists…)
- food (recipes, but also former meal plans to get inspired)
- trips (dream destinations collections, itineraries…)
- Minimal plan (monthly editorial calendars, braindumps, content creation progress trackers…)
I’m using this simple but highly effective system almost every day (marking pages and searching through them) to make sure I can easily find everything as needed.
3. Having a separate notebook for long term collections
I use one notebook for each quarter of the year (the Leuchtturm I use have 121 pages in it). That way, my notebook is a lot lighter than a regular Leuchtturm or a big Nuuna for instance, and as I plan everything using quarters as a reference (goals and projects) it makes everything easier.
Starting a new notebook every 3 months has drawbacks, especially about content migration. I have to admit I get tired of migrating some of my collections: yearly goals, yearly finance tracker, reading list…In a word, all my long term collections that are meant to last more than 3 months. I thought about several solutions that would allow me to keep the advantages of my quarter based organisation without its downsides, and made my way to an arrangement that fits my needs.
I simply separated my long term collections from the rest of my bullet journal: I’m using my Leuchtturm for everyday bullet journaling and keep my long terms collections on hand in a A5 Muji notebook (squared). As the main interest of the bullet journal is to keep everything in one place to have it on hand as needed, I cut the Muji notebook to reduce its width so that it can be carried with my beloved Leuchtturm in my handmade leather cover (simply slipped in the cover flap with my Leuchtturm). I intend to use one Muji notebook for the whole year, keeping an index to get it organised.
Everything is finally in the same place (and no content migration sessions every 3 months!) thanks to this little hack.
I guess there are as many content organisation systems as there are bullet journals, every user building its own depending on their needs (and there are a lot of blog posts on the topic, and I highly recommend Kim’s about threading for instance). The important thing is to find the right combination, and I have to say that I’m pretty satisfied with the mix of these 3 methods that work perfectly together.
– Leuchtturm 1917 : Medium, softcover, squared
– A5 Muji Notebook (squared)
– Erasable Muji pen (0,4)
– Muji pencil
– PaperMate Flair M, black