Sometimes carrying your A5 or 5.5 x 8.5 inch Bullet Journal just isn’t convenient or feasible. One of the most common situations for me is when I’m going on a lunch run, and standing in line at a buffet somewhere, I get a call. The boss want’s me to do something and call a contact while I’m at it. Problem is that I don’t have my BuJo to jot the tasks down in.
Integrating a Pocket Journal With A Bullet Journal
This is just the method that I use. It might not work for everyone, but if you find something here that you think is a good idea and want to try out, feel free to use this idea! If you happen to blog about it, all I’m asking is to link to this post as a source.
I used to carry the Bullet Journal everywhere. It was with me when I would go out to lunch, in a small satchel when my family went out on the weekends, and I even took it to the restroom sometimes to checkup on unfinished tasks while taking care of a completely different kind of business.
Bullet Journaling During Family Dinner Is Inconvenient
What I learned early on was that it was downright cumbersome to try and carry it everywhere. Sure, the A5 size bullet journal works great at my desk or in my home office, but I like to be active, and making sure it was with me all the time was a pain. Especially when I was with family and had to pull it out to jot a note.
I needed a better way to make sure I was able to capture data fast on the go
So I took one from the “Everyday Carry” community and decided to look into pocket notebooks. I’ve tried a lot of them. You see a few of the types that I tried below:
I wanted something that could be used with the Bullet Journal and compliment it, not work against it. I spent a considerable amount of time choosing the pocket journal to find the right one.
Picking The Notebook
I liked the Moleskine Cahier journal pretty well. It feels nice and is pretty solid… until it spends two weeks in my back pocket. After the second week, the binding was taped together with duct tape, the rear pocket had fallen out and a couple of the perforated pages also had mysteriously come out somewhere. Glad I didn’t put any information on those!
At the end of the second week, I was already looking for something better.
I tried Field Notes, and pitched it in two weeks as well. The durability just wasn’t there in either of the journals.
The fatter notebooks (on the right in the picture above) held up a lot better, but were cumbersome. I felt like I was sitting on a block every time I sat down. In the end, I was forced to pull the journal out and place it on the table when I sat down (hardcovers suck for back pocket use). The biggest problem was that I accidentally left the journal at a restaurant. I figured out that I’d left it just a half block away, so I ran back and got it, but it scared the heck out of me, and I decided that those thicker notebooks weren’t viable either.
Spiral Bound Pocket Notebooks were next, and surprisingly, I didn’t have a lot of complaints about them other than the fact that it was hard to find anything other than lined notebooks. I really wanted grid paper or dot grids.
I asked the Everyday Community on Reddit what solutions they had for durability for the Moleskines and Field notes because those were the sizes and formats I wanted. A lot of the members suggested that I get a leather case if I was planning to carry in the back pocket. The leather wallet/cover adds some protection and if it holds credit cards, it can also add some rigidity.
I ended up using the Fold Journal (Pictured in the center on the top row of the image above). It has thicker, more durable paper than either Moleskines or Field Notes, and it’s less expensive. You get 5 notebooks for $10 rather than just three.
I found a very nice leather cover on Etsy from Mihai Leather. They make alot of different versions of the pocket notebook covers, but they’re pretty reasonably priced considering I was finding covers on Amazon for three times more.
The only downside was that the wallet was being shipped out of Romania. It took three weeks to get to me, but that included the time they needed to make it. From the postmark, shipping was only nine days from Romania to my house in Michigan.
Here’s the Pocket Notebook Cover I purchased:
You’ll notice that it has three credit card slots in the front, and one in the back. I carry a Fisher Space Pen, Magnifying card, and a clear flexible ruler that I cut from 6 inches to 5.5″ to fit, a couple bandaids and a Claritin tab (I get allergies pretty bad this time of year). I added a Leuchtturm1917 pen loop to the back cover so the pen could stay with the wallet at all times.
I started carrying the pocket notebook everywhere both as a journal and my wallet as a solution to not being tied to my Bullet Journal all the time.
While it served it’s purpose for just jotting notes and to do’s, I decided that I’d try and come up with a way to make the two journals work together as a system.
The Quick Reference Page
Just like my full size bullet journal, I decided that I’d have a quick reference page in the pocket notebook for frequently needed information.
One of the first things I did, was to make the decision that I’d use most of the pages with the pocket journal on it’s side. That instantly gave me a wider area to write notes.
This worked well for a while, but I decided to take it even further. I wanted to give myself the ability to use the pocket journal as a standalone bullet journal or one that works with the A5 full size journal interchangeably.
Pocket Journal Modules
“Wouldn’t it be great to be able to section off tasks, meetings, notes and other stuff?”
Simply, through fiddling with the pocket journal, I decided to create “modules”. The modules are just sectioned off parts of the page dedicated to a certain item.
Tasks, for example go in the top left. That never changes in my book. The top right and bottom modules change depending on my needs at the time.
If you decide to use this idea, you can section off the pages as you see fit, of course.
Folding The Pages
It came in a spark of brilliance. My one time a year that happens, LOL.
I figured out that I could fold the pages so I could always look back to see my unfinished tasks!
I could either fold the top down or bottom up.
If I folded the top down, I could see the tasks from the previous page, and if I folded a couple pages down, I could go back further!
By doing this, I wouldn’t have to rewrite tasks from one page to the next.
Bullet Journal Info Transfer
Up to now, the pocket journal works perfectly as a pocket sized rapid logger. It’s a bullet journal that has enough functionality to work on it’s own if you don’t want to carry a full size journal.
The hurdle I faced was how to ensure nothing slipped through the cracks. I hate copying tasks and notes from one place to another by hand because there’s the potential for mistakes. Getting times or email addresses wrong in the transfer just cant happen, so I decided to simply put “See PoJo (short for POcket JOurnal)“ in the Bullet Journal when there was something important in the pocket notebook, and “See BuJo” when there’s something I need to reference in the full size journal.
It was as simple as that!
I currently use this method, and it works very well for me.
5 thoughts on “How To Use A Pocket Journal With A Bullet Journal”
Thanks for this – I’m looking to use a pocket notebook as a bullet journal for 2018 so hunting out tips and tricks.
Thank you for the post. I also like the idea of bullet journaling but could never get in the habit of carrying and using a larger journal every day. I’m going to try using my grid notebook in landscape orientation and see how that works out.
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Thank you for the post. Wanted to let you know the Etsy link to the cover is not working. Are you able to share more details on it? Thanks!
Going sideways and doing the fold is brilliant.