I recently finished my very first bullet journal which meant I needed a new one, and if you’re a stationery junkie like me there are few things as exciting as starting a new notebook. But there was just one problem. I was still carrying around my old bullet journal as it had spreads, sketches and information that I needed, but I wasn’t willing to rewrite in my new one – it felt like both a waste of paper and a waste of time.
If there is one thing you should know about me it’s that I like to rid myself of the superfluous. If I can streamline my process I will. If I can leave stuff at home when I hit a coffee shop for a few focused hours of work, I will. I don’t like bulk and I don’t like clutter, and I found it a little frustrating that I had to carry around a notebook I could no longer use but still needed.
So, I decided I would digitize my bullet journal. That way I could refer to it whenever I needed to, and the book could be safely stored away. No extra bulk in my bag, weight on my back or clutter on my desk.
But that left the question of HOW I would digitize it. I knew I would need pictures, simply because I tend to sketch stuff, like maps, character designs and the like. But I also wanted it to be easily searchable. After all, I was doing this so I could continue to access those old notes without the need to carry around the notebook itself.
So I decided to use Evernote.
And you might be wondering why I’m using Evernote, and not something more simple like a pdf or a handful of folders in Dropbox. The are plenty of cloud-based apps and programs that could suit my needs, so why this one?
Well, I have a few reasons.
The first is the fact that Evernote can search your handwriting. Which means it can search my notes directly! Makes it so much easier to find what I need. Dare I say even easier than when I was carrying the notebook itself!
My second reason, and this is the important one – Evernote lets you tag your notes, thus I can quickly pull up everything related to a certain topic. If I want to see my blog post ideas I can simply click on the tag and every note tied to my account that has that tag will be assembled for my viewing pleasure. It works like the classic bullet journal collection, only easier and far more portable.
So, now that’s out of the way, how do you do it? How do you set up Evernote to archive your bullet journal in the most effective way possible?
First off, is the pictures. I decided that every note in my notebook would be two pages, and my reason for this was two-fold:
- I didn’t want to break up any two-page spreads
- My notebook is fairly small anyway and I wanted to reduce the number of notes and images
I named each note with its page number and worked in reverse order. Which means I was starting at the back and working my way to the front. I found this to be more effective, as the default sorting method in Evernote is by date modified, and I wanted to keep all of the pages in the correct order starting at the top. Unfortunately, Evernote does not allow you to select a sorting order by notebook, so that will be something you need to consider if you decide to do the same. Thankfully tags can easily be edited without affecting the time it was last modified.
Some of the tags I used included:
- Period of Time: weekly, quarterly, yearly
- Function: list, sketch, notes, idea
- Topic: social media, 3-act structure, etsy
- Project names
I also made sure to tag every entry with bullet journal as well. Evernote can actually search multiple tags, so this will come in handy when you are looking for something specific that was in one of your journals. If you only use Evernote for archiving, it’s a bit redundant, but I also have a notebook section for various blog ideas and I want to be able to separate the two if necessary.
The Mobile app (which I highly recommend) has a document scanning function that may take some getting used to, but the end result is clear, searchable, and doesn’t take up megabytes of space.
To finish it off I created an Index note, just as you would in a bullet journal. I made a table and listed everything in my notebook and the appropriate page numbers. And then I turned those page numbers into links to take you to the note with the corresponding number. The index sits comfortably at the top and makes it easy for me to see at a glance everything in the notebook. I can click on what I want or scroll down to the page I need and everything is in the right order!
It’s a time-consuming process, and I’ll admit it isn’t for everyone. For some, it’s just easier to carry around that second notebook until it’s no longer of use. If that’s what works for you, then I’m glad you don’t need to spend what would amount to several hours on this archiving process.
But the fact was, for me at least, that there were some spreads I would be using for a long time. Perhaps indefinitely. Information I knew I would be frequently referring to and wanted easy access. And this would only be compounded as I continued to use and fill more notebooks. As I’ve said before, I like to keep things simple. I don’t like bulk. I don’t like clutter. If I can find a way to simplify my methods than I will. And digitizing my bullet journal seemed like the best fit.
I can view my notes from anywhere, search through them with ease, and I don’t have an extra notebook taking up space in my bag. It checks all my boxes, and maybe it’ll work for you as well!
It’s Your Turn!
How do you store old bullet journals? Have you tried digitizing them before? Do you have any tips or suggestions to improve upon this method? Or do you prefer to keep the hard copy on hand? Let me know down below!