A few weeks ago I got asked just HOW I organize the thoughts in my business journals so they were accessible and easy to find later.

Here’s the sneaky answer: I don’t. I hate to admit it but I can honestly say I’ve never really thought about it before. Usually, they’re one-step up from just musings. Or like the project I’m working on now; I’m jotting down full sections of writing that will later be typed into Word. I probably won’t need to go back to the journal once it’s typed up.

But there are times when I look back at a journal and realize that what I’m struggling with NOW was something I had solved, or even just started thinking about, weeks ago. So while I don’t organize my journals, I will now!

I got these steps from a business mentor of mine, Rodney Rich, in just a quick conversation we had last weekend. So huge shout out to Rodney: THANKS!

(Here’s his website and his Facebook page.)

(But the caveat on this system, I haven’t tried it yet. I’ll give it a whirl and get back to you!)


  1. Leave at least 5 pages at the front of the journal blank. If you’ve already filled them in, this will work at the back as well.
  2. Number all your pages. (I recommend a lower corner. At least make sure it’s the same spot on every page!)
  3. Grab a package of stickies and a blank sheet of paper. On the paper, write down letters A – G on the left hand side. These are going to be your categories. Assign a category to each letter. Examples are Marketing, Client Mindset, Project A, Project B, etc.
  4. Go through the journal and put the corresponding lettered sticky every time the theme comes up in the journal.
  5. In the first few pages, you’ll transfer over your letter codes and the category name. Then, using the stickies you put on the pages, you’ll write down the page numbers of where you can find notes about that topic.

Some topics will be common across ALL journals (like marketing) and others may be more project-central and then only appear in one or two journals.

After years of keeping business journals, I know from experience that there will be repeating themes in ALL your journals. Marketing for sure, but also internal topics that you deal with all the time. I’m recommending that you ALWAYS assign these topics to the same letter.

On your computer, you can create a master index where you’ll generally index things like:

Notebook 1:
Marketing (A)
Client Mindset (B)
Blog Ideas (C)
Book Ideas (D)
Website Updates (E)
Notes from XYZ Event (F)
Video Marketing Project (G)
Telesummit Plan (H)

Notebook 2:
Marketing (A)
Client Mindset (B)
Blog Ideas (C)
Book Ideas (D)
Website Updates (E)
Book Launch (F)

Now, you can completely take this to the next level and create the index file on your computer so you might have notes like:

Notebook 1: 5-7; 12, 15, 26, 31
Notebook 2: 56-71, 83, 100-103

Client Mindset
Notebook 1: 7-12, 33, 47-49
Notebook 2: 1-13; 57

Then, you can run a search in the file for every time you reference marketing. You can also break it down farther into more specific TYPES of marketing like video launches vs Facebook promotion ideas.

Don’t get me wrong, this will be a pretty big undertaking. I would recommend starting with your current journal and then working backwards. There will (probably) come a point when the notes and thoughts you’ve jotted down are just too old to be relevant to your business now.

And I fully recommend that you DON’T try to index the journal as you go along. If I was worried about making my notes and thoughts fit into my main categories, I know it would severely limit my creativity and thought process.

For this business, I really only have only filled two dedicated journals so I’ll be going back and working through the indexing process. I’m also planning on cross-referencing this to the course books I’ve received at some awesome conferences lately.

I take all my notes AT the conference in their provided course book but then I find that the ideas I’m implementing I write about a lot in my journal. So I’ll be adding the cross reference from course book to journal into my system as well.

Now remember, I JUST learned about this system this past weekend. I’ll be implementing it over the next few weeks and I’ll get back to you. In the meantime:

How do you index or categorize your business journals?

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Kimberly Eldredge

Kimberly is an author, illustrator, and entrepreneur. She helps coaches, speakers, and authors take the content they already have and FINALLY get their book written and published.
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6 Responses to Indexing Your Business Journals

  • I do something similar but I have a master notebook that is separated by topic. My daily notebook has dividers based on the project and/or client. When the project is complete or the idea is cancelled out, I move it to the master notebook. I tried going paperless but I’m finding that if it’s not printed, I won’t look at it again. It sits in the land of electronic “nowhereness”. Also, by printing, I know that if something were to ever happen to the electronic files and it has happened, I still have a hard copy. Not the most eco-friendly but I’m selective about what still gets printed.

    • OMG! I can’t DO paperless. I have to have my notes. And for some projects, I can’t THINK unless I have a pen in my hand!

  • I feel SO lucky that I ran across your post today!

    I do the same thing, I keep all these journals and often something I’m working so hard to create… has already been created elsewhere.

    I’m going to apply this system to my business journals over the next few weeks (I really have so many) and I have a feeling I’m about to get a lot more productive.

    Thanks for a great tip!

    Crysa <3
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    • Crysa, I know the feeling. I’m grateful I was able to help you! Here’s the OTHER side of the story: I was asked about indexing journals back in December (when I ran the original article). I put it on my editorial calendar figuring that with a deadline I’d be FORCED to figure something out. I was at Rodney’s event last week and somehow the topic came up. In about thirty seconds he explained the system to me.

      Boom! All types of problems solved. The Universe knows only perfection. I’m glad I could help you.

  • This is actually an awesome idea that I would never have thought of. Splitting them up and leaving pages in between. I will try this when I crack open a new notebook. Thanks for sharing this!