Sample bullet journal using index cards featuring a daily card with schedule and to do list items sitting next to a card index and a Pilot Hi-Tec C Coleto multipen

A year of Bullet Journaling on Index Cards inspired by the Memindex Method

I’m just wrapping up a year of maintaining my bullet journal practice using index cards instead of the more popular notebook form factor. It’s heavily inspired by the century+ old Memindex method.


Sample bullet journal using index cards featuring a daily card with schedule and to do list items sitting next to a card index and a Pilot Hi-Tec C Coleto multipen

Card index daily journal and planner with 4 x 6" index cards separated by divider tabs labeled from Aug through Jul of following year.

Green canvas Flatty Works canvas envelope-style case with a clear plastic front through which one can see a handful of 4 x 6" index card dividers and index cards.

Published by

Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, IndieWeb, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

47 thoughts on “A year of Bullet Journaling on Index Cards inspired by the Memindex Method”

    1. Do you like using index cards more than using a notebook?

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      1. Chris Aldrich says:

        I love notebooks as much as, if not more than the next stationery nerd, but for this purpose index cards are so much easier and more portable for me. I can always stuff one in my pocket and then I don’t need to remember to pick up and take my notebook with me.

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    2. Bob Doto says:

      Really fascinating, Chris. Great job! Would love to see a video of what it all looks like (or some detailed images) if you ever get the chance / have the interest.

    1. Chris Aldrich says:

      Why do quarter-sawn oak or rich Corinthian leather when you can have your own 500 pound 20 gauge bomb-proof steel monolith?! (Though to be honest, I do have two lush wooden Shaw-Walker and Remington-Rand desktop boxes.)

      I do organize primarily by date (year, month, day), though that isn’t specifically shown in these photos, but my current collection only spans 2022/2023 so far. When I’m done refurbishing my cabinet, I’ll have individual drawers for almost anything I could want for the rest of my life.

      Most of my bujo-related cards are individual days, but I also keep monthly cards with upcoming events and longer term to do tickler items (which prevents me from needing a more dedicated “Future” card. I’ve done “Monthly Spread” cards with a mini calendar and big reminders, but usually find it’s easier to just put these onto future daily cards anyway. Almost any page/sub-page or spread in a bullet journal could be its own index card.

      Types of Cards:

      • Daily cards (one card per day)
      • Monthly card with priorities and projects
      • Gridded cards for tracking a handful of regular items (exercise, health, etc.)
      • Grocery list card for accumulating items for shopping
      • Project cards with titles and usually lists of project steps
      • 4 Eisenhower matrix cards, with graded priority to do items (I usually make a new set every month or so depending on how busy they get, the titles of these can be seen in the first photo of the original post.)
      • 4 cards with lists of items I want to read (books/magazines), watch (tv/movies), listen (podcasts, other), or learn (subjects/topics).
      • Weekly expenses/purchases card

      At a minimum I’m always carrying today’s card, but frequently have two monthly tracking cards, yesterday and tomorrow’s cards, and the Eisenhower matrix cards. Most of the rest are at my desk, but are easily portable when necessary.

      I also describe some additional high level organization in the response to a related question.

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    1. Chris Aldrich says:

      Portability and ease of use are the two biggest benefits. I tend toward the minimalist perspective in terms of layouts and logging, but I’ve yet to worry about messing up one or more pages in a notebook because if I screwed up drawing a spread or put something on the wrong page or in the wrong order because I can simply throw out a card and start over very quickly. (I don’t suffer from the dreaded perfectionist perspective as a result.) For those who prefer more decoration/artistic space, you can also go toward larger 5×8″ cards and not need to worry about the growing binding or notebook expansion some see with washi tape and stickers. I find 4×6″ is a pretty convenient size, especially when folded in half for putting in my pocket.

      Index cards are incredibly inexpensive (especially in bulk) compared to the more expensive notebooks, but one can definitely find higher end, thicker cards (Exacompta Bristol cards from the company that makes Clairefontaine comes to mind) if you want something more luxurious or fountain pen friendly. Most cards seem to do pretty well with fountain pens in my experience though. I only ever write on one side (for convenience and more easily perusing my collection as well as speed of never having to worry about hidden information written on the backs of cards), so ghosting and bleed through are never a problem. It’s usually not too difficult to find index cards printed with a variety of lines, dots, grids, etc. or I may occasionally custom print or cut my own when necessary. If you dig around you’ll also find companies that specialize in (more expensive) preprinted layouts like Jeff Sheldon’s Analog/Ugmonk cards, Notsu cards, or 3×5 Life, but I like the freedom to switch up my layouts or expand them if I’d like.

      Another thing I love to be able to do is lay out handfuls of cards on the table and order/reorder them as necessary (especially my project cards and associated notes). I’ve also picked up a couple of note card “bleachers” for being able to store and view a handful without taking up desk space. Playing card holders can also work well for this at a cheaper price point. In my case the lower bleachers are the higher priorities while the back benchers are lower in priority, while still being visible.

      Definitely going to continue this for its simplicity and functionality. I’m currently working on restoring a larger filing cabinet for longer term practice and more convenient storage, but there are lots of other options in terms of style and size out there from simple and cheap to more lovely tactile wooden experiences as well as small desktop to atomic era bunker-style furniture.

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      1. Chris Aldrich says:

        Another benefit that I always forget is some of the stress of starting and setting up a new notebook and planning on how many pages to leave for the index and future index portions. Index cards are generally much more flexible and don’t require much (if any) thinking ahead. I also don’t have to remember which notebook/index I may need to search in to find anything since it’s all in one place rather than potentially spread out over several notebooks.

        When I do need to look back to look up things in old notebooks, I usually jot down a reference to that older material by notebook number/page number into my new index in my index card box for future easier searchability.

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  1. This is cool and interesting. The only thing I wonder is if you find it hard to look back and find notes you need? I use my Bujo for a lot of record keeping, and it seems like things would be harder to flip back and find when on index cards…

    1. Chris Aldrich says:

      Days are individually self-indexed by date (one card per day).

      I’ll often keep fleeting notes of random things throughout the day, but later I’ll flesh them out more fully and move them to either my commonplace book or to my zettelkasten where I build on knowledge of subjects over time.

      I keep some traditional monthly trackers on gridded cards which I put at the beginning of each month, so that’s always easy to find.

      If I want to track things like doctor’s visits for health (for example), then I’ve got a specific section for “Health” information. It may be scribbled on an individual day, but I’ll usually cross index it to my Health section at the end of the day or week when I’m doing my planning.

      I usually have a multipen with me (Pilot Hi-Tec C Coleto, pictured), so appointments are usually in blue, to do items in orange, notes of things that will need to be transferred or cross-indexed in purple, and journaling about impressions of today in black. Both the color and the location on the card usually make it a lot easier to find almost anything.

      My drawers of files are broadly split up into broad sections:

      • Bullet Journal (by year, month and date),
      • Rolodex (usual names, addresses, notes on people/companies),
      • General information (by category title; things like the health example above),
      • Projects,
      • Zettelkasten w/ subject Index (for all the rest of my information, most of which I never kept in my bullet journal before anyway)

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    1. Chris Aldrich says:

      Broadly, yes, and as a result its a lot smaller because I’m only carrying a few cards at any given time.

      Any page or spread you might have in a notebook can easily be turned into an individual card. The one hard and fast rule I use is: one dated note card a day for events and to do items. You can get an idea about some of the other specific practices in a few of my responses to other questions in the original posts response threads.

      I also don’t have to worry about losing everything at once if my notebook is lost or goes missing, just a day or two’s reminders. I have lost six months’ worth of bujo in the past while traveling, but have yet to loose a single index card.

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    1. Chris Aldrich says:

      It’s a Pilot Hi-Tec C Coleto multipen. They have a handful of bodies/colors available to hold from 2-5 gel ink pen/mechanical pencil/eraser inserts with 0.3, 0.4, 0.5mm tips. This one in particular is their silver one for about US$10. I’ve got about 10 different pen bodies around the house/office with several dozen pen color refills always on hand.

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  2. Omg this is genius!!

    Is there anything you didn’t like about it? Would you like to change something?

    How do you feel about archiving or finding information?

    Also great questions in the other comments!

    1. Chris Aldrich says:

      From time to time I change the format/layout of some of my cards just like folks do in notebook formats. Having done bujo in both notebook and index card format, I’ve come to like index cards much more for the freedoms they provide.

      Archiving/searching is easy. I’d say it’s even easier than indexing and searching in notebook format. I provided a health specific example here that may make things more clearly:\_source=reddit&utm\_medium=web2x&context=3. In the early 1900s, businesses regularly used similar methods for filing and searching for all sorts of data in a pre-computer era. I’m just doing the same thing here when necessary.

      I’ve tried to answer most of the questions thus far, so those interested may find some additional useful tips/examples.

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    1. Chris Aldrich says:

      Commonplace book, traditional writing journal, reading notes, drawing… Though once you go to index cards, you may never look back. 🙂

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  3. Very inspiring, very cool. THere’s something about the separate-ness of having an index card to jot down what you need that day, almost like being in the moment. I’ll often keep one clipped to the front cover of my BuJo as a reminder/checklist which makes me think why am I carrying around this notebook when the card and the pen are all I need. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Chris Aldrich says:

      Does this example using the topic of health help?\_source=reddit&utm\_medium=web2x&context=3

      Broadly, I used tabbed cards with category/tag names and file relevant cards behind them.

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      1. Yes that is helpful. Do you have a good resource for where to buy your supplies?

        I have looked into doing a Zettlekasten alongside my Bujo. I already Cary index cards around for random notes , but I like to keep my system minimal, and I was struggling with the necessary accouterments to use a zettlekasten style system.

        What size are the cards you use?

        Edit: I just clicked your tabbed cards link. So do you just use Amazon?

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        1. Chris Aldrich says:

          I personally use 4 x 6″ index cards, though I could imagine that many might prefer 3 x 5″ cards. I have purchased index cards from Amazon before, but they’re also readily available in variety at most office supply stores, general goods stores (Target, Walmart, and drug stores), and many stationers online.

          As for boxes, you can go with an inexpensive shoe box to start, but the sky is the limit. Try for ideas if you need them as well as places to look for them. You can get some really great wooden boxes for about the same price as some of the prefab cardboard boxes.

          Cards, a box, and a writing instrument of your choice and you should be good to go. Everything else is icing on the cake.

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  4. I love this idea, and I can’t believe I never thought of it before. I end up getting overwhelmed with a big empty page, but hate tiny notebooks. A tiny index card tho. Easy to write on, easy to toss if I make a mistake. If I space on a day it doesn’t ruin the notebook for having blank pages of I predate cards etc.

    Plus, best of all, it gives me an excuse to look into getting a card catalog cabinet cause I’ve always loved those when I went to the library as a kid

  5. Sam says:

    Wonderful! Can you tell me how this feels on the go? Do you use the case in the last image and the dividers, or is it more ad-hoc in practice?

    1. Chris Aldrich says:

      Sam, sorry I missed this when you posted it. I think I was away on a cruise to Alaska at the time with little to no internet connectivity.

      About 80% of the time, I’m using it all deskbound, but I regularly use that case and the dividers to carry the immediate material I’m most focused on. Generally it contains the cards for today and the rest of the week.

      I reviewed the case here:

      Last month, I put together a list of cases, wallets, etc. if you’re looking for something similar:

  6. Not quite but really close: I’m using an A6 disc bound notebook. I keep my future log, task backlog, relevant collections (usually live projects) and the last few weeks (up to a month) in it.

    And it fits in my pocket!!!

    I have been seriously considering going full index card / hipster pda but find myself referring to 10+ different notes in any given week so always assumed loose-leaf would just get me lost or make a mess. How do you find it?

    Btw what sort of fountain pen is that? TWSBI?

  7. Not currently, but I’m tempted to try it with the vertical orientation index cards. I don’t bullet journal every day so a whole notebook is sometimes excessive for me. Also thinking about going the Field Notes route.

  8. Julio Vera says:

    Where can I find those dividers? thank you.

    1. Chris Aldrich says:

      I picked them up at Amazon at


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