I keep a simplified version of a Bullet Journal in paper notebooks. I write in it every day. I write tasks, log meals and moods, write journal entries, copy quotes, etc. This way of working fits my brain, and I see no future in which I’m not doing some version of it.
But I must admit that y’all are right, searching paper notebooks kind of sucks. However, I’m not moving my notes to digital just so I can search them more easily. That’s not a trade-off I’m interested in. Instead, I’m working on a system that makes my paper notebooks easier to search. Or perhaps it’s better to say that I’m working on making it easier to find things I’ve written in my paper notebooks.
A year ago I started highlighting key words and topics in my notebooks (see Highlighting in Notebooks). This works great. It lets me quickly scan my notes and pick out important topics. What I’m now doing is adding those topics to a separate index. I already maintain a table of contents in each notebook, but that’s not the same as an index. My index is kept in a box of 3×5″ index cards (see photo).
Each notebook gets a number (e.g. 01) so the index entries reference this. For example, if there are several pages about “Health” in Notebook 01, it gets indexed like this: “Health: NB01.23, 45, 67”. The “NB” prefix may be unnecessary, but I’m thinking that at some point I might want to differentiate between sources. I might have written something in a notebook (NB) but there might also be something written in my Antinet, so I can do “AN2024/1/2A” to reference the specific card. Or perhaps I filed something written using a typewriter in a ringed binder. That might be “B02.34-35”. I’m still noodling on this.
Speaking of my Antinet, the contents of my notebooks/index differ from that of my Antinet experiment (which I’ll write about later). This index is for personal notes, observations, interactions, etc. The Antinet is for topics I’m interested in.
Have you tried keeping an index like this? If so, I’d be interested to hear how you’re handling it.
[…] Indexing my paper notebooks: I’m a mixture of analog and digital, finding great value in both. And so, indexing has been one of the most helpful tools – though I am way too inconsistent with it. Have you ever considered indexing your notes? Maybe you should, and here are some thoughts about how. […]