I’ve Gone Digital: How I Keep a Digital Book Journal

Over the years, I’ve told you about my reading journal. It’s a physical journal I kept while I read to jot down notes, put my thoughts down, and have a single place I can turn to see what I’m reading.

But I have a confession to make. I’ve gone digital…and I love it.

The reason I switched from analog to digital is really simple. I type faster than I can write, which means my thoughts get written down faster. I think A LOT and having a page or two dedicated in my notebook made the entire process really messy. So I created a Trello board for myself and I organized it in a way that keeps me up-to-date with my reviews, gives me space to write my endless thoughts on a book, and organizes my blog, my Instagram, and my Patreon content. There’s a lot of stuff I put out into the world and this allows me to do just that.

Before I get into it, I do want to mention this wasn’t my idea. I got the inspiration for my Trello board and how to set it up from Book Bumblings. Their Trello board is more extensive than mine and you can check out their blog posts for the original idea.

What is Trello?

A screenshot of my Trello page. Some of the cards are blanked out because they are upcoming blog posts.

Trello is basically an organizational tool used by many companies to keep track of what projects to work on. They’re are these columns you can make with each column representing a group of tasks. It could be a big project with smaller tasks that you need to manage. This allows you to manage that, collaborate with your coworkers, assign tasks, make comments, and keep your projects on track.

For my reading needs, I’m a one woman show so I don’t need most of the tools they provide (and most of those tools require payment). Instead, I use this to organize the reads I’m reading, the books I need to review, blog posts that I want to write, and other tidbits related to content work on social media.

Creating one board is free. I think adding more boards requires more money, but if you’re working on your blog solo then this might be perfect to keep you organized.

How I Organize My Trello Board

What works for me is this assembly-line system. Each column represents a step in my writing process and each card either represents a book or a blog post I want to write about. You can move cards either by dragging and dropping them or you can choose the column to move the card. I really like this method because then you see the cards move from section to section. It’s like a perfectly coordinated symphony. Everyone knows exactly what they need to do and where to go, so there’s no guesswork. It just flows!

On the far left, I keep all the books I plan on reading that month. Each book I read gets a card with the title and the number of pages in parenthesis. When I start to read the book, I move it to the Currently Reading section. Each card has a description section where I basically jot down my notes on the story and my thoughts. This is the most convenient part of the entire process. Because instead of setting up a page in my journal to write these notes, I have this digitally. This also works great on the go because you can download the Trello app to your phone and make notes when you’re not close to your notebook.

When I’m ready to write my review, I move it to the To Review column. This is more organizational for me so I can keep track of what needs a review and what I’ve already worked on. On each card, there’s a section to add a description. I literally use the description section to start my review. It’s all super rough mixed in with pieces of the story I wanted to keep in mind, but when it’s finally time to write my review I’ve already got something started and can easily add or edit from there.

An example of how I write my reviews for a book before they go on the blog

The To Post section is where I keep all my blog ideas. I didn’t want to mix them in with the book reviews because my book reviewing process and my blog post writing process are quite different. Each card is a different blog post idea I had. In the description section, I start off with the bigger parts of the blog post I want to write. I eventually just copy and paste what I have there and use that to start the blog post. It makes putting these posts together much easier than sitting with a blank page trying to make it work. It’s also great when you’re worried your work will suddenly disappear while you’re writing it.

When I’m done posting my blog post or if I’ve finished my review, I’ll move all those cards to my Done pile. It’s the most exciting thing to put things in the Done category. It’s like a checklist where you satisfyingly put that checkmark on your To Do. You get stuff done and to see them physically move off your plate really helps psychologically. The best part of the Done pile is that none of those cards get deleted. They accumulate there so I can always go back and visit the messy thoughts I had about a book.

I also have a section for anything Extra. This includes things I might have skipped from months before, work I plan on doing in the future, or ideas that don’t really flow with the theme of what I’m creating.

Final Thoughts

To be honest, this Trello board has become one of my favorite tools for blogging, writing, and creating content for you all. I’m able to keep track of what I want to write, I never run out of ideas (maybe more steam for writing things), and it’s all neatly organized in one place, which is so important for me. As much as I loved keeping a physical journal of all my book thoughts, I found myself getting lost a lot. I had ideas written in tiny margins and reviews that spanned over four pages and onto post it notes. It was so messy that I felt my life was messy because of it. Now my physical journal is an actual journal and To Do list for my day. This also keeps my To Dos super simple because I know exactly what needs to be worked on.

You can use this Trello board in any manner you’d like! If you mostly work on your own or if you have a team of people working with you, this is a great way to keep track of everything. The best part is that I can download the app to my phone and make changes on the go. That’s always good when ideas strike me at any time. I would highly recommend checking out that post from Book Bumblings. It’s pretty comprehensive and shows you how to use tools like the calendar or labels. I tried using labels but I kept forgetting what each label meant lol.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how a digital journal might benefit you over a physical one. I won’t stop journaling (that’s physically impossible, I believe), but at least the book part of my journaling life is a bit more organized.

7 thoughts on “I’ve Gone Digital: How I Keep a Digital Book Journal

  1. Simone I LOVE this and I love Trello! I’ve used it for my freelancing for years, but you’ve inspired me to make a separate board for my reading life. P.S., when you said you kept forgetting what the labels meant, did you mean because the labels were appearing as just solid colors? Because I thought that for a really long time and then realized you can actually click on them so you can READ the label too. You may already know this lol but figured I’d share in case you thought the same thing! Love this post!

    Like

    1. I just realized this! Thank you for pointing it out. Now I might try and use the labeling system again because I can actually read what they mean lol. But thank you so much for your kind words!

      Like

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