I know what you’re thinking after the past few weeks: Does she really expect me to carry around half a dozen books?
No, I don’t. Even I’m not that crazy (and I’m known for having journals on me). While a journal can be a life record, a tool for developing habits or learning skills, or a source of inspiration, there is nothing saying it can’t be all of them at the same time.
Crazy, right? I mean, how does anyone keep that all straight?
In my physical notebook, I number all of the pages. (Occasionally, I even manage to put a number on every single page.) Then when I need something from an earlier page for a later note, I write down the page number of the earlier note next to it so I can quickly find it. It’s a kind of low tech hyperlink, but it keeps me from having to rewrite notes. I also employ a color-coding system with highlighters and sticky tabs so I can quickly flip through and find related notes. So I can keep weekly to-do lists, project to-do lists, bits of writing, quotes I find and like, questions I want to explore, and discussions with myself all in the same place without going crazy.
In my digital notebook (because I do keep both and routinely back up my physical notebook to my digital notebook), I use a well-developed system of categories and tags to keep everything organized. I link where I need to, and I use text markup tools to help process my notes. (Font face, colored text, highlighting…all are useful if the system you are using allows them.) The digital notebook is particularly helpful for the learning and inspiration notebooks because most notetaking systems allow you to clip web pages, so you can clip tutorials, articles, videos, and images, and then organize them into what you’re working on.
At the end of the day, it’s your journal. Add to it what you want. Organize it how you want. Keep up with what you want. Make it work for you.