Tag Archives: Organization

What I Am Using Now

A commenter on a recent post asked what notebooks I was using for my business and personal notes. The notebook I was referring to in that post was a pocket-sized squared Moleskine, one of my hoard of old ones from before their quality declined so much. That is my daily catch-all notebook for journal entries, lists and assorted jottings. I don’t always put a lot of work-related notes there– usually just the kinds of long term, big picture things that are causing me enough anxiety that I am thinking about them outside the office!

For my day-to-day work notes, I keep a larger size notebook on my office desk. I write to-do items on the front of the page, and meeting notes on the back of the page, mostly. This has been a pretty good system in terms of being able to find notes by the date when I wrote them. I supplement my list-keeping with an app (on my phone and web-based on my desktop) called TickTick, where I store longer-term notes and to-do items. The work notebooks tend to last me a while so over the last couple of years, I have only gone through 3: a Doane Paper notebook, a Grandluxe A4 size Earth Care Note Folder, and currently, I am using the Appointed notebook I reviewed here.

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I always like to use something with a wire-o binding, so I can fold the cover to the back neatly. And it is ideally letter-sized, so I can tuck other papers into it. The Appointed one is a bit small for that, but I like the paper and am enjoying using it. The smaller grid pattern makes me tend to write very small, as I also did in the Doane Paper notebook. I love the way this ends up looking– the pages are densely covered with print and doodles, so there’s a lot of texture in a way that I find satisfying. The Grandluxe notebook was lined in a wider rule, so it didn’t encourage the same kind of density.

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My other frequently used notebooks right now are a Moleskine sketchbook (again an old Modo e Modo one) for daily drawings, a pocket-sized landscape format watercolor notebook from Pentalic for occasional painting, and a Field Notes for jotting down words and assignments in my French class. I also have a HandBook Journal in progress with occasional sketches but I haven’t been using it very often. Here’s a few random recent pages from my Moleskine sketchbook and squared notebooks:

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I am about to finish my squared Moleskine, so I have to think about what to use next– I have a few other options that I have in a pile as possible daily drivers. Many are softcover and I am not sure if they’ll hold up as well. I do still love my old Moleskines, but I try to force myself to rotate in other brands, if only to extend the lifespan of my stash!




Beautiful Bullet Journals

I’m amazed at some of the spreads you see online of people’s bullet journals– some of these are works of art that go way beyond just detailed organization and tracking!

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See more at These Instagrammers’ Bullet Journals are organizational masterpieces

Planner Formats

How do you feel about planner notebooks with highly formatted pages? I love seeing images of how people use them, as the pages sometimes look wonderfully dense and textured with text and colors and highlighting. But when it comes to using them myself, I’m a bit reluctant. I make lots of lists on paper, but when it comes to keeping track of appointments and projects, I tend to use digital tools instead. I love to use pens on paper, but for some purposes I have to admit I don’t find it efficient. The image below with blocks of time laid out with different color highlighters is very appealing, but in my day to day life, I know I’d get frustrated by having no way to erase them when meetings were rescheduled! I do like the way these planners prompt you to slot your to-do list items into blocks of time– I think it’s a key part of being organized, as you have to allow yourself time to actually do things!

The planners below– the Spark Notebook, the Basics Notebook and the Passion Planner were featured at Cool Material along with some other ideas for notebooks to get you organized. The Spark Notebook has a pretty minimalist layout for its weekly view. The Basics Notebook adds more hourly time slots and other page layouts to prompt various kinds of planning and logging. The Passion Planner seems to be the most elaborate of all, with hourly, daily, weekly monthly and annual planning and space for you to reflect on goals, gratitude and steps for improvement.

None of these seems like quite the right fit for me… but they’ve given me ideas about what kinds of layouts I might wish for in my own planner, customized to my own life… perhaps a subject for a future post! I’d love to hear more about what planner systems readers are using– please chime in with a comment!


See more at: 7 Notebooks That Will Help You Get Organized in 2016 | Cool Material

Organizing with Notebooks

Here’s an interesting look at one person’s notebooks and how she uses them:

“I love notebooks and I love seeing other bloggers sharing how they use theirs. It is like getting to see how their minds work on paper! I have lots of notebooks and a few pricey Moleskine that are sitting in boxes unloved since I want to save them for something special. (Honestly I was a bit afraid of ruining them.) But when I look around myself and realize how much stuff I have, I realized it is time to change. Starting with my notebook collection. I would actually use them. They are no longer just some pretty stuff, they will become a creative record of my journey.  Here are the 3 notebooks that I use regularly.”

Read more and see lots more photos at “How I Organize with my Notebooks”.

A Notebook Accidentally Thrown Out!

A sad tale!

I am not the sum total of my tattered alphabetical notebook, which currently lies in the slush of the Wellington tip, but that slice of old technology was a part of me. It must have disappeared when I emptied out the contents of my waste paper bin, congratulating myself for remembering collection day, but forgetting to check the contents. As is so often the case when I congratulate myself, disaster followed.

Read more at Tattered Notebook Held Rich Memories | Stuff.co.nz.

Moleskine Monday: Part of a CEO’s Day

From an interesting article about how Tim O’Shaughnessy, the CEO of Living Social, manages his day:

I carry a little leather Moleskine notebook with me everywhere. It’s filled with lists, like numbers I want to discuss, agenda items for staff meetings, or the biggest threats to our business. If I have an idea, it goes in there. I often flip through my book at night. If there’s a good idea, I will type it up and send an e-mail. I go through one notebook every month, sometimes more.

via Living Social CEO Tells Us How He Works.

One Notebook or Many?

Steve at Recording Thoughts has written a marathon series on the question “One Notebook or Many?”
Now, I suppose you could argue that this isn’t even a question, as you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog if “many” notebooks wasn’t your idea of a good thing! But the issue here is whether to capture all your various jottings in one notebook at a time, vs. splitting them up into notebooks dedicated to single topics. Both approaches have their merits– a few excerpts and photos of Steve’s notebooks below.

One Notebook or Many? Part 1: The case for one notebook

One book is cooler. A volume covering all of ones life, being read by descendants long after my death, like the journals of Leonardo da Vinci, makes a nice day dream.

It’s fun to read through a diverse journal with sketches and notes on all kinds of things. Paging through an old journal and coming across doodles my daughter made is a treat. Sketches of things I was planning to build or of other things reminds me of the diversity of my life, which is often handy when I’ve become too focused on one narrow aspect….

One Notebook or Many? Part 2: The case for many notebooks.

A single subject notebook increases focus. When I’m writing in a single subject notebook, I feel a discipline to focus on that subject. It’s a reminder of what I’m doing, and there’s no risk that while I’m paging through old entries I’ll end up on some trip down memory lane. Instead, paging through the book reminds me of other aspects of the subject, helps the focus, and can even help with writer’s block…

One Notebook or Many? Part 3: The case for loose sheets

Blank sheets are versatile and adaptable. Since it’s not part of a book, it doesn’t have a dedicated purpose. The paper can be used for anything – I can write a letter, leave a note, give it to my daughters to draw on, or fold it into an airplane. This is especially useful when traveling, because it means I carry less…

One Notebook or Many? Part 4: What’s been working for me

Separate book vs. in the journal. I’ve found that unless the new book has a very strong purpose (like the NumberQuotes notebook) or has a specific place in my life and routine (weekly planner), it’s at risk of being abandoned. The food journal hasn’t quite become a reliable partner yet, but the birds book has. The weekly planner has become very important, and I record some things there that could be in my journal. Despite many attempts to find an electronic replacement for my weight records, pen and paper have proven to be the best and most reliable.

If the work has a lot of structure, and clear boundaries, a separate book seems to work best. If the work is somewhat amorphous, a separate book just doesn’t feel right. For example, I just used the large Leuchtturm1917 Jottbook I received to start a web-focused notebook, only ideas and thoughts related to my various websites that don’t have books of their own, or for ideas (like selling ad space) that are common to all sites. That lasted a short while before the book become refocused on this blog. So far, it’s been earning its keep.

So many things in these posts resonated for me. I’ve tried various approaches, and like Steve have ended up with a hybrid solution: one main notebook for most things, plus a few satellite notebooks for specific topics or uses that require a different format. But the other solution that I was surprised Steve didn’t mention was to use a Filofax or similar binder– you can incorporate different page formats, devote a few pages in a section to different topics, and carry over pages you want to keep for reference while filing away others. I used small looseleaf notebooks for years and loved them… but then electronic devices replaced the calendar and address book sections of those notebooks… and for what was left, a stack of bound journals did just seem cooler than a box full of rubber-banded looseleaf pages. But I keep feeling like I should give it a try again.

How about you? One or many? Join in the discussion here or at Recording Thoughts.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Tac Anderson

This week’s addict has written various blog posts thoroughly documenting how he keeps himself organized with a version of the GTD (Getting Things Done) system. And he’s filled a lot of notebooks doing it!

I also loved this quote:

Why do I insist on keeping a notebook? To quote Dwight Schrute, “I keep secrets from my computer.”

Actually there’s just something about a blank page that inspires creativity and thought. For as digital as my life gets I still love paper and pen….

Read more at gtd hack – /tacanderson.

How Chefs Keep Track of Their Recipes

I liked this article: How Professional Chefs Organize Recipes With Digital Devices – WSJ.com. Although the article focuses on digital devices, good old paper notebooks make an appearance:

Whether it’s a pile of food-splotched printouts or a cluttered digital desktop, many cooking enthusiasts are swimming in recipes, with no good system for storing them. Is there a better way to collect and store recipes so they can be easily retrieved later on?

Even the pros struggle. Most chefs rely on some combination of digital readers, apps and email—so much the better if the device fits in the back pocket of chef’s pants—plus traditional paper notebooks or index cards….
Some chefs refuse to give up old-school methods. For many chefs these involve a pocketsize notebook made by Moleskine, with plastic-coated covers and an elastic bookmark. Robb White, the dean at the Culinary Institute of Michigan, has filled more than 300 with recipes, each one with a sketch of the dish or a plating idea on the back. Notebooks are designated by entrée or appetizer type, and he stores them by year. His system helps him spot and keep track of food trends, he says. “I get made fun of a lot—all my chef buddies think I’m nuts,” Mr. White says.

300 pocket size Moleskines full of recipes and sketches… be still, my heart!

Notebooks for Home and Family Organizing

The Unclutterer recently re-posted one of her articles about using notebooks to organize your family and home life:

Notebooks are great because they keep all of your important papers in one place and they are easily portable. In our home, we have a recipe notebook, appliance notebook (instruction manuals, purchase receipts, maintenance and repair receipts, and warranty information), and important information notebooks for all four of us (our cat even has one).

We store these notebooks in a place where we can find them quickly, easily spot if someone hasn’t returned the notebook to its shelf after use, but in an area that has minimal guest traffic. Our personal notebooks are valuable to us and we would be devastated if we lost them, so most of the information in them has also been scanned and then the files backed up online.

I recently bought a cardboard portfolio to house a lot of my manuals and warranties, as I found them a bit unwieldy to try to put in any sort of notebook or binder. I have a small notebook where I’ve started to keep a list of furniture and rug measurements and floor plans for a redecorating project. I’ll also paste in clippings and color swatches, and maybe even some photos of the room I’m working on so I’ll have a visual reference when I shop.
How about you? Do you use notebooks to organize household projects and family information?
Read more at Organizing your home and family with notebooks | Unclutterer.