The Commonplace Book: How It's Going

I set up a commonplace book/bullet journal combo. Here is how I did it and what I like about it.
Photo by Gift Habeshaw.

A little while back I wrote about trying to keep a commonplace book, in the hopes that it might transform my life. Mostly because someone wrote on the internet that it would transform my life to keep a commonplace book, and I am very suggestible.

A commonplace book is basically a book where a person writes down interesting quotes and musings -- a place to mull over life and meaning and other such things. I likened it to an old-fashioned bullet journal.

So here is what I have done:

I set my notebook up like a bullet journal, with the first pages devoted to a symbol key, index, and future log (a place to jot down things that need to happen in the next six months that I don't want to think about now).

Entries are individually numbered, not dated (because I don't like trying to remember what date it is, which sounds ridiculous when I actually say it, but there you go), and each one gets a symbol that shows what kind of entry it is, to make it easier to find things at a glance (a little cloud, for example, is an inspiration/deep thought and a checkmark is a to-do list). I drew little margins on the pages so that I would have space to write the numbers and symbols for each entry.

The index is the place to log things I'm going to want to refer back to, I don't put everything in there. I just note the things I know I'll want to reference back to and their entry numbers. Categories with multiple entries that I want to refer back to are listed together (for example, my DnD notes all have a drawing of a 20-sided die, and the index just has that symbol and then the entry number for each DnD note.)

Then I started writing! My notebook is definitely a bullet journal/commonplace notebook mash up. Basically, it's my everything book.

How I set up my commonplace book/bullet journal to have one place for everything.
One of the only spreads in my book that is not too personal to share.

I had two goals with this project, one was to transform my catch-all notebook into a more effective resource, and the other was to create more space for creative thinking and musing.

I think that so far, the first goal has been achieved and the second has not (although I did get on a bus forgetting the book I am currently reading and think, 'that's okay, I have my notebook', knowing that I could even just write and think with it, so that is something.) Also, I realized when I was talking to a friend about it that this notebook brings me GREAT JOY, which was not a goal but is an excellent side effect.

Here are the elements that helped with the first goal of transforming my catch-all notebook into a more effective resource:

I like the numbering and the symbols. It's nice to look at a glance and know what kind of notes I have on a page spread as well as to find something in particular.

I like writing quotes down here instead of going through the hassle of trying to highlight them on my Kobo, which is not only super frustrating because Kobos are not great tools, but it's a pain to look them up later. This takes longer, but it ultimately far more pleasant and I have reviewed them more often, which is kind of the point.

I like (and have been using) the index as a place to track the things I'm going to want to come back to later.

Here's something fun with this book that might lend to the second goal: sometimes I just open up and flip through my book. I NEVER used to do that. So that's neat! Perhaps the additional space for creative thinking and musing is just a seed that has been planted but not yet sprouted.


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