The Four Types of Notebooks I Keep and Why (+ My 2019 Bullet Journal Setup!)


As the first semester of my senior year comes to a close, I have reflected on both the beginning of my 2019 so far and my school experiences. Looking back, I recognized that taking notes actually made my school experience a lot more enjoyable. Though I have never considered myself an artistic person, taking notes satisfied my desire to doodle while ensuring that I developed an extra layer of understanding. Outside of school, my notes and notebooks have offered storage for fleeting ideas and solace in times of need.

My notebooks each fall into one of four categories: bullet journal, ideas, academic, and personal journal. Here's a look inside each:
1. Bullet journal
Generally, I like to maintain a bullet journal for each school year. Recently, though, the spine of my last bullet journal unfortunately fell apart before I could complete senior year (likely due to enduring the depths of my school backpack next to heavy textbooks and overstuffed folders), so I've started anew for 2019.

At the beginning of each bullet journal, I create an index so that I can easily access pages within a certain month without having to intensely search.

Though I do not maintain many additional decorative spreads to save time, I do keep track of the books I read during the school year at the beginning of the agenda. I also keep a future log so that I can note club meetings or school assignments due in a future month at the time I learn of it.

Next, I create a monthly calendar to note closer dates. I like to create a more traditional layout for the calendar so that I have enough room to detail all of my activities and deadlines. In my new bullet journal, I've also added an extra column on the side, entitled "notes", to write short words and phrases that reference happy or noteworthy moments from that week. In my older agendas, I wrote these words in the headers behind the name of the month.

Finally, my weekly spreads for each month host the specific and daily tasks I must complete. While creating my spreads for each month, I aim to make them decorative enough that I can have fun drawing in them, but also functional enough that I can use them day-to-day without spending too much time. I took advantage of my lighter homework weekend to decorate last week's spread with pictures but during busier times, I have reverted to simpler layouts I can complete between classes: a highlighted header with room to bullet assignments.

This is an empty spread I created this weekend to host my assignments for next week. February is often recognized as the month of love, so I wanted to draw from my adoration of scrap-booking and photos to remind myself of the friends and family I am grateful for.

2. Ideas
Outside of my bullet journal, I like to have a space for my ideas that is more unkempt and free. My idea notebooks contain a random assortment of topics, ranging from essay outlines for English class, quick jots on pizza places for production team, or simply what I am thinking about at that moment in time. While I do keep a separate notebook specifically for blog ideas, many of my idea notes later develop into blog posts or projects.

My blog post notebook is a mix of mind-maps and long chunks of text. For book reviews, as I read a novel I notate specific page numbers or areas of interest. The main branches of my mind-maps will typically become the subjects of paragraphs in my book reviews. 

Other times, though, when I am feeling particularly inspired about a topic, I will just write in one long burst. Later, I return to edit and sometimes rearrange the paragraphs I came up with. Some of these topics have included my March for Our Lives blog post that later became a speech I delivered at my school's walkouts, and one of my favorite posts of last year on what Asian-American representation in media means to me.

3. Academic
I discussed this briefly in my mind-mapping post last year, but I enjoy taking my school notes in sketchbooks so that I have room to make connections during class as I see fit. For topics with subtopics that can branch into each other, such as causes for the Industrial Revolution, I'll create a mind map during class lecture. For other topics, most frequently math, I will revert to a linear note-taking style for clarity.

4. Journal
The last notebook that I keep is my personal journal. Here, I disregard formal writing to simply recount what has happened during my day or how I feel at the time. In the past, my journal has primarily served as a helpful outlet during times of sadness and need. While this has been beneficial to me, I also want to preserve some of my happier moments in writing. So, this year, one of my resolutions is to write in it at least once a week to strike a better balance. Thus far, I have adhered to my goal.

Ultimately, these four types of notebooks comprise the basis of much of my daily routine. For anyone seeking greater organization or a relaxing hobby, I would recommend delving into journaling or stylized note-taking-- it's a lot of fun!
How do you use notebooks? What kinds of notebooks do you keep?


  1. I am definitely not commited enough to be able to keep up with four notebooks, so congrats on that, hahah.
    I have only one notebook in which I try to fit all things. It's probably not the most function thing in the world, but I don't use most of my journals for any purpose other than docummenting stuff. I tried having a bullet journal for a while, but I realized that I am just not a planner, and if I ever have way too much going on, my phone's notes is more convenient. But I adore journaling about my day and docummenting books I've read / movies I've watched. So far, I haven't used yet as a way to plan my book reviews/posts, like you showed on notebook #2, but I guess it's a good idea indeed! I've never tried planning posts by hand, but I think it's convenient to settle my post's visual before hand.
    Lovely post, Claire!

  2. Wow using four notebooks is a great feat. I try hard not to give up on the one that I use currently. I totally rely on spreadsheets to save my ass though. Great post!

    Gayathri @ Elgee Writes