The Three Bs: Binder, Brain Dump, Bullet Journal

The Three Bs -- Binder, Bullet Journal, and Brain Dump--are game changers for the born disorganized.

The Three Bs are a binder, a bullet journal, and a brain dump. Get your hands on all three (that’s the easy part) and learn how to use them (I’ll help!) and I promise, these are game changers. If you were born lacking the organization gene, the Three Bs help level the playing field.

I’ll be talking about all three of the Bs in both the C.H.a.O.S. and Project Buy a House series. I thought I’d take a few minutes today and really explain what they are.

The Three Bs are the center of the simple, intuitive, right-brained, non-crazy-making, non-overwhelming system I use to (try to) keep my life in order. And, my goodness, does my life need some order. None of this stuff comes naturally to me. I have a high tolerance for disaster, a low tolerance for being confused or overwhelmed, and a whole lot going on that I need to keep track of.

I read a Goodreads review about a home organizing book once that went something like this: I have 30 books on home organizing, but I really think this one is going to do the trick.

That statement may or may not resemble something that goes through my head every time I find another book on this subject. (Okay, okay. . . it totally does.) If you and I have THIRTY books on home organizing and we’re still looking for the trick–something isn’t working.  I’m ready to get off that merry-go-round. I need something that’s designed to work with the way my creative, right-brained, semi-scattered brain works.

The Three Bs helped me. Maybe they’ll help you, too. You’ll definitely want to have a good understanding of them if you’re doing either C.H.a.O.S. or Project Buy a House with me.


The Three Bs -- Binder, Bullet Journal, and Brain Dump--are game changers for the born disorganized.

We’re already talking about our binders in the C.H.a.O.S. series. This week we got started with the calendar section.

My C.H.a.O.S. Binder is a three-ring, 1-inch binder that I snagged from Ruby when she wasn’t using it anymore. It has a big kitten on the front. I’m keeping my eye out for a more grown up one at the thrift stores (I for sure could just walk into Staples and buy one, but where’s the fun in that?), but unless I find something really vintage-y and awesome (I’d love an old Trapper Keeper if anyone has one in a box somewhere), the kitten is my binder buddy. My binder doesn’t leave my desk anyway. Actually, it sits on a little bar stool right next to my desk. Perfect height and out of my way.

My binder has eight sections. Some of them I think anyone should have: a calendar section in front with no divider, then planning, money, food, cleaning, and at the very back a divider that says personal. My other sections are: writing, blogging, and social media. I’m considering combining blogging and social media so I can use a section for my Etsy store, but I haven’t done it yet.

I’m writing extensive posts at C.H.a.O.S. about my binder sections, with printables and everything. You can get a free copy of my C.H.a.O.S. Binder Quick Start Guide by clicking here.

Brain Dump

The Three Bs -- Binder, Bullet Journal, and Brain Dump--are game changers for the born disorganized.

I have two of these. They are basically landing spots for all of the thoughts and ideas and lists and things that I have to remember that are constantly whizzing around my head. If I dump them out of my brain and onto paper, I don’t have to think about them anymore until I can actually do something about them. It’s wonderful. Truly, of everything I’m doing as part of C.H.a.O.S. and Project Buy a House, this is the one that is saving my sanity the most.

I have a brain dump on my desk. It’s just a 4″ by 6″ triple-decker yellow legal pad that I bought at Dollar Tree. I like it because it’s small enough to sit on my desk all the time without getting in the way, but big enough that I can hole punch a page and add it to my binder if I need to. I keep notes when I’m on telephone calls in my brain dump, make grocery lists in it, use it to brain storm ideas, write down things I need to remember out of an email–whatever. Everything.

I have a second brain dump for when I’m out and about. It’s called a Hipster PDA (HPDA) and is just a stack of index cards held together with a binder clip. I keep a little PocketMod clipped to it for tracking spending, which is simple since I keep the whole shebang in my wallet so it’s right there every time I buy something. Super simple.

Bullet Journal

The Three Bs -- Binder, Bullet Journal, and Brain Dump--are game changers for the born disorganized.

I call my Bullet Journal my Ta-da Book–because it’s like magic. If something goes in there, it gets done! I started out with a little two for a dollar 3X5 notebook from Staples, but I’ve graduated to a composition book with grid paper. The size is perfect. I don’t carry my Ta-da Book with me, it stays on my desk.

Here’s a video to show you exactly what a Bullet Journal is.

I know a lot of people buy Moleskine books for their bullet journals. I’m okay with my composition book that I got for a dollar during the back-to-school sales. It gets the job done and I can save the $20 I didn’t spend on a fancy-pants notebook for something else. Also, I like composition books because they have a retro feel that appeals to me, and they’re so cheap that I never worry about messing one up.

I basically followed the instructions on the video, with minor variation. I don’t bother with all the different checkbox shapes and codes. I just make a square. I don’t do color coding (although I do like colored ink just for fun) or anything like that either. Just a to-do list with check boxes.  I think I’ll be able to fit at least six months–maybe even a year–in it. Composition books are cool, there’s enough room to make it sort of a scrapbook with ticket stubs and pictures and other little things pasted in. I’m not sure though, because I’m afraid if I do too much of that, it’ll make the book hard to use as an actual to-do list after a while.

I start my to-do list for the next day before I go to bed and finish it first thing in the morning. Having a to-do list book is a definite game changer for me. I’m so much more productive. But I have to be careful about over complicating it or I’ll find myself making an art journal instead of doing the things I’m supposed to be doing.

Using The Three Bs

Here’s how I do it, anyway.

Everything except for my HPDA stays on my desk. I don’t lug anything around with me.

Every morning I make a to-do list in my bullet journal, using the calendar and daily focus pages in my binder.

I use my binder for lots of other things, too–like managing money and planning menus and keeping my writing and blogging straight–but we’re going to talk about that later.

I use my brain dump as just what it sounds like. I dump out any lists, ideas, notes, that I’d normally try to hold in my head onto paper. It’s the most freeing thing ever.

If I have anything in my brain dump that I want to keep, I either hole punch the brain dump page and put it in my binder, or I transfer the list in a neater fashion to my bullet journal.

That’s it. Three Bs. Easy-peasy organization for the right-brained.

Subscribe to Going Reno to get your free 23-page C.H.a.O.S. Binder Quick Start Guide* * *

This post is linked to these awesome blogs:

A Bowl Full of Lemons, Hip Homeschool HopMaker’s Link Party, Be Inspired, Two Little CavaliersWow Me WednesdayWholehearted WednesdayCoffee and ConversationOur Life on a Budget, Inspire Me Wednesday


16 thoughts on “The Three Bs: Binder, Brain Dump, Bullet Journal

  1. Pingback: How I Cut My Grocery Budget in Half {Plus an eMeals Giveaway} | Going Reno

  2. I love this post, I have an endless fascination with how people keep track of things and your explanation of the bullet journal is great. I’m going to link to it from my blog tomorrow.


    • You could absolutely just use a pen to make Daily Focus Pages in a spiral notebook. I love all the fancy pants printables out there, but I’m really into simple and straightforward. My brain needs that.


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