A photo of one of my journals.Journaling is something of a lost art. I extensively use paper despite my ability to use and access "technology" because there's simply something more definite, trustworthy, and real to writing something down on paper. I'm no stranger to technology (I used to work in IT), but I do know that sometimes the old ways are best.

I'm going to do my best to explain the journaling system I use here for the benefit of others. It should go nicely with the note-taking advice that I will upload as well as I work on building the website.

The first thing you need to remember is that flexibility is key. Especially when you're starting out. Your planner pages will look different week to week, you probably can't afford to buy a notebook for every possible subject you might write about, and later on, there's a good chance you're going to want to make a structural change, and if you didn't buy a notebook or planner with room for it, you're going to have to start over. That's demoralizing. 

For starters, here are a few resources that I have found useful in building my notebook collection. I'll flesh out this resource as I have time, but here are some external articles that I've consulted.

  • How to keep a Zibaldone, the 14th Century's Answer to TumblrAtlas Obscura - This is the article that started it all. A more English name for a very similar concept is the Commonplace Book, which is what hooked me in the first place.
  • John Locke's Method of Organizing Common Place Books - Farnam Street - In my commonplace books and any of the journals that I might use for multiple topics, or when I might just need some indexing in general, I use the John Locke system. A modified version of it. Note: There are just a lot of interesting articles on this website in general. Look around.
  • Getting Started with Bullet Journaling - Bullet Journal - I am still experimenting with this. What I really love about it is the flexibility that you get when you use this structure for a planner. I have the ability to change my weekly plan layout every week if I need to. As a teacher, I'm very busy during the school year, and then during summer my pages are much more free form because I have a general loathing of appointments. Again; flexibility is key. All you need is a dotted or gridded notebook, and a pen.
  • Minimalist Bullet JournalistsTiny Ray of Sunshine - If you're ever looking for inspiration, there are people that seem to spend their entire day perfecting their layouts. As you can see above (and throughout my website), I'm not quite that neat. However, these are where I got some of the ideas for my layouts and, any time I need inspiration or a more creative answer to a layout issue I'm working with, I go check these out. You can also find dozens of Instagram profiles with similar collections.

Please keep in mind - this page is constantly under construction.

Choosing a Journal

There are a number of different factors to consider when you're picking a journal. There are probably a thousand guides out there. I personally prefer gridded paper, and the Leuchhturm 1917 journals are very hard to beat. I also use Shinola journals extensively. I just picked up some notepads to supplement the journals, and they're a brand called Quattro, but I don't know of a good place to get them online.


Probably the least exciting but most important thing you'll need to do is set up a proper index. I chose John Locke's method (see above) because it's extremely flexible. This is what a partially filled index looks like. Each letter is listed with the vowels afterwards. Then, every topic is indexed by the title's first letter and first vowel. For example, if I wanted to find something about Churchill, I'd check this index and find that it's on page I.112 (I precede page indices with volume numbers if that page exists in a different volume). If a section needs more pages (like Si, for example), I list the pages that the section continues on. On those pages, I also note which page is before and which follows.

A photo of my index based on John Locke's system.

Keep your index updated, of you're going to have to go back through and fill it back in later. And believe me, you don't want to do that.