Chris Carlier

Keep a Journal


I learned to read and write younger than average – I was reading books to my own kindergarten class of kids my age who couldn’t read their own names. That’s not a brag. It’s just something I think of, occasionally, when I’m reading or writing. So, frequently.

From pre-teen through young adulthood, my written ideas and work were a constant mess of sticky notes, notebooks of all shapes and sizes, random bits of recycled paper stuffed into coat pockets, backpacks, folders, crowding desks and tabletops – anything I could write on with anything that would write. Once home computers entered my world, this just added another spot where I could keep a mess of unorganized plain text. This continued through smartphones and various apps and cloud storage and so on.

This was fine for a while, actually. Maybe I was a little annoyed at having to change apps from time to time to avoid fees or gain some features, but it was good enough.

Yet something always felt incomplete about it.

One day, I convinced myself to purchase a new notebook; hard cover, 200-300 pages. I didn’t even have a specific purpose in mind for it. I’ve just always liked notebooks and kind of missed writing things down. I found myself reaching for the notebook more and more frequently to quickly record ideas, leaving my smartphone for appointments, etc.

Slowly, I realized: I needed both!

It wasn’t long before I discovered bullet journaling. This means different things for different folks. For me, it’s just pen and paper; daily and monthly notes to keep track of everything in a format that works for me.

Now I keep a bullet journal as sort of the main center of everything I do. If an idea comes to mind, I write it down in today’s list. If I have to remember something for later, list. If an event comes up, list. I review it daily and monthly to keep on top of things I need to work on or cross off things that don’t really matter.

If something in my list is, for example, a creative idea that I’m not going to work on now, that’s when I store it in my text files. Text files are easily searchable and are accessible anywhere because I keep a copy in the cloud.

To think of it simply: daily notes in the journal. Long-term ideas in the cloud.

What works for you?