10 Habits of a Notebook Junkie

A fellow notebook junkie noticed my highly specific notebook practices in a meeting this week, and asked me for my best notebook hacks. Here’s what I’ve got:

1. Every meeting in my notebook is indicated as [Name of meeting] → next line → [Date] — whole thing in a box. Top left of the page. I find this makes it very easy to find any/every meeting. If a meeting goes multiple pages, I’ll indicate that with a boxed in “[Hanscom, Cont’d]” notation on the page.

2a. I set up my week and to do list every week on one page, always a righthand page. It includes: Date, 3–5 goals, 1–2 intentions, my written schedule/calendar, my to-do list, my thank you note list.

2b. (I write one thank you note each morning as the first thing I do of the day. I like to know in advance who I’m writing to).

2c. When I set up each week (on Sundays, with a glass of wine, always), I review last week’s list and make either a checkmark, X mark, or arrow. Checkmark = done, X = didn’t do and not doing, Arrow = moving it to the next week. Then I copy that thing over to the new week. If it hits the list 3 weeks in a row, I make myself take a week off.

2d. On the back of that week’s plan page, I list my 4 core values that I’m trying to live in (for myself and for my company) with space below to list out what I did that aligned with those values that week. Helps me ask the question: “if I’m doing something that’s not in these 4 values, why am I doing it?” That’s been a powerful practice for me this year.

3. In the back of my notebook, I keep a running list of intentional meetings with my family members. I’m chronicling these because a 2022 goal of mine is to have real, intentional face to face time with my parents and siblings every week. This keeps me accountable.

4. I keep washi tape in the house (don’t you?). When something in my notebook is VERY important and needed in the next book, I cut that page out and tape it to the inside back cover of the new notebook. This happens rarely, but is very helpful.

5. I keep my notebooks in a chronological stack in my office, currently going back to 2015, when I started a clear and consistent notebook process. I run through about 1 per quarter, though right now I’m running a little hot because I’m starting a company, so like 1 every 2 months.

6. I am dot grid all the way. And a Staedtler Fineliner black pen. It’s that or nothing. I’m constantly testing out brands of books, but my favorite aspects are: page numbers, pen holder, back pocket, seat belt (elastic strap around it)

7. If there’s no seatbelt on the book (the rubberband that goes around,) I use a hair tie. And I keep a binder clip handy to note which page I’m on if there’s no bookmark.

8. Benjamin Franklin used to keep a notebook that was his Greatest Hits notebook and when he wrote down something smart or particularly good, he’d pull it from its original notebook and paste it into his Greatest Hits one. I don’t do this but I kind of wish I did. I do go back and read the year’s notebook each year, and occasionally write down a list of things I want to remember for it.

9. I write every article or essay in my notebook first, long hand, and then transfer it to type later. Best editing I could ever do is getting it down in pen first, type second.

10. I never ever have different notebooks for different purposes — I used to do this, and it’s bad for me. I like to have one notebook that acts as an ALWAYS companion (I do not leave home without it) and that chronicles my whole life. I think it’s easier to find things that way.

Excuse me, I’m going to go apologize for being insufferable to almost everyone I know.

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karenborchert

karenborchert

Founder and CEO of Alpaca. Goals Nerd, Spreadsheet Enthusiast, and Runner.