The Core Index
The Index is the backbone of the Bullet Journal. It’s how you organize everything you add to your Bullet Journal. Ryder does a wonderful job of explaining what it is and how to get going with it here
.The Index is an easy and quick way to organize the guts of your Bullet Journal so you can find what you’re looking for. It’s also handy when you're looking back at old Bullet Journals to see the contents at a glance.
Tips on using the Index:
- Add Monthly logs and Collections to the Index.
- You don’t need to index your Daily Logs.
- Update the Index as soon as you create a new Collection.
- It’s chronological, so add to it as you go through your notebook.
- Be specific when adding an entry to your Index. Instead of writing “Udemy course” write the actual course’s name “Photography Basics”
- If you run out of room in your Index, simply flip to the next available page (or start from the back) and continue business as usual. Connect the Indexes by Threading.
Depending on what you’re looking for in your Bullet Journal, you can use the techniques shared in this article to boost your Index to best work for you. There are several ways you could use the Index.
These are a few clever ideas to power-up your existing Index.
The simplest thing you can do to boost your Index is to create a dedicated Index to a particular topic. One way is to use the first spread for personal and the second for work, like Ryder shares in this video. Other ideas could be to have one page could be for your general collections, another for meetings, and another for projects. This way you can quickly see all of your collections under a specific topic at a glance.
Split it in half to maximize space.
By splitting the Index in half you get twice the amount of room which is helpful in case you find that you have a lot of entries. By splitting the Index in half you can also separate between specific Collections that you have. For example, you could have one side for meeting notes and the other side for the rest of your projects or other Collections.
Underline specific Collections.
If you would rather not split your Index or assign pages (especially if you’re new to the Bullet Journal) and just want to add to the Index as you go along, but find that you need to have certain ones stand out more, then you could consider underlining some. To give them further context, you could underline with different colors. For example, blue could be work, purple could be home, and red could be assignment breakdowns. I underline the Monthly Logs to spot them easily.
Add a Signifier next to specific Collections.
If you would rather not underline, consider using a Signifier next to certain Collections to give them more context. This way you can see relevant ones at a glance. For example, project Collections that you’re currently working on could have an asterisk next to them to signify priority.
Place a Bullet next to Collections to indicate what you’re working on, have completed, discarded, or migrated.
This can work in any of the above methods because it treats each entry in the Index as an actionable item. By doing this, you can focus on the pertinent Collections. Simply add a Bullet to indicate that an entry in the Index is a task you’re working on and once all of the Collections in that line are completed, you can mark it as such. If the Collection was cancelled or didn’t work for some reason, cross it off to mark it as irrelevant. This idea is also helpful when you get a new Bullet Journal to see which Collections to migrate over.
Bullet Journalists have come up with inventive ways to further adapt and power-up the Index, which you’ll see below. These methods work beautifully along with the traditional Index as Ryder presents it. These ideas are not meant to replace the Index, but to work in tandem. Of course, it's up to you to use what works for you.
The official Bullet Journal notebook has 3 handy ribbon bookmarks which make it easy to flip to pages you reference often. You could have one at your Future Log, another at your Monthly Log and the last on your Daily Log or a Collection you’re working on. If you love the ribbons and would like to have more, simply grab a few ribbons and tie them around the top of the existing ribbons and voila! More ribbons.
Photo Sources: Kim Alvarez | Amy B.
Invented by Dee of Decade Thirty, this is a pretty clever idea especially if you have a notebook without numbered pages and you don't want to number the pages. You can write the general topic at the corner of the page and you can find what you're looking for by flipping through the pages and reading the corners.
Photo Source: @decadethirty
The idea is to illuminate Signifiers on the edge of the page to make it easier to find what you’re looking for when you’re scanning your pages for that tidbit of information. Whether you’re looking for that genius idea you had or something else, this can be useful in your search. It’s especially handy if you’re the kind of person that prefers recording everything in your Daily Logs.
It also makes the process of Migration a tad bit simpler when flipping through your Bullet Journal reviewing open tasks because all you have to do is glance at the corner of the page to see a mark indicating that you’ve completed all the tasks on that page.
Color the edges.
Marking the edge is a simple and effective way to see collections ‘pop out’ so you can see how many instances of these kinds of collections you have. There are a few popular ways to mark the edges: with black ink, colorful ink, or page flags.
- Classic black
Use the last page as the index. The lines match up to that topic. In this image, Chinese is illustrated with the marks you see at the top row across the book.
Photo Source: High Five via LifeHacker
True to her color-loving nature, Kara of Boho Berry took this idea and added some color to the edges of her Bullet Journal as a type of “color index”. To boost the idea a bit, she made flip-out cards reinforced with washi tape to easily flip out and refer to when coloring the edges according to certain categories. You can see all the different instances those collection occur at a glance.
Photo Sources: @boho.berry | @qualcosadierre
Tabs are an easy way to flip to frequented collections. There are a few ways to tab. You can grab clear ones, cut them down to size, and write or draw a symbol to indicate what the page contains. Other ideas include sticking two dot stickers together, or to buy some index tabs.
Dot stickers are better suited if you want to mark the edges of your pages with dot stickers instead of ink. They are best suited if you have several pages under the same theme (such as class notes) and want to see where they're located throughout your notebook.
Here are some of the ways Bullet Journalists have put them into use:
- Black Dot Stickers for simplicity
- Colorful Dot Index
- Colorful Dot Stickers with a little flip-out guide
- Same as before, but some different ideas for the dot stickers.
- Colorful Dot Stickers with a clear guide that doubles as a writing mat
- White Stickers that you can color with the colors of your choice
@yesyescoffee | @wanderandsoul | @delightful_planner | @plannerphile | Amy B. | @thehabitproject
You can also use washi tape to mark the edges, either use a small piece or line the entire edge of the page. Some Bullet Journalists mark only their Monthly Logs with washi tape or use one kind of washi for that month’s pages to see how many pages they used.
Photo Source: @bulletjournaleuse
This is a simple bookmark to make and use for a page or two.
Photo Source: Origami Resource Center
Take these as inspiration. You can take parts of ideas that you enjoy and ignore those that don’t resonate.
I hope this article helps you get more out of your Indexing journey!
Have you come up with any handy indexing methods that you enjoy? Please share in the comments below to grow this resource even further! :)