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How to Organize Notes

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How to Organize Notes
Even with the move to the computer era, paper notebooks are not a lost art. The benefits of writing out tasks and points to remember, being able to easily add hand-drawn diagrams, creating a permanent record, and easily  flipping chronologically are some of the advantages we love. If you’ve been unhappy with online notes, we’d like to offer suggestions for how to move back to and organize paper notes.

How to Get Started

1. Buy a single notebook you love dearly.

  • Bookstores, stationery places, and museum shops are terrific sources for specialized notebooks
  • Size can be a critical factor to adoption, considering not only the notebook footprint when closed, but also when open
  • Are you looking for a pocket (3.5 x 5.5), junior (5.5 x 8.5) or large full sheet (8.5 x 11) sizes?
  • Is having the notebook lay completely flat a requirement?

2. Select a complimentary pen/pens you enjoy.

I’m a big fan of using any color other than black so the notes feel a little less like work.

3. Consider what rules you want to apply to your notebook.

For instance,

  • What components should each entry contain?
    • Name(s)
    • Topic
    • Date
  • Where do actions live?
    • Within body & marked
    • In margins
    • Outside of notebook
  • What shorthand will you use to denote certain items?
    • Circle actions not done
    • X actions completed/captured
    • / strike areas where review no longer needed
    • *important information

4. Take it everywhere you go.

5. Page through your notes @ least once per week to uncover undocumented tasks.

Notebooks To Consider

When I’m playing organizing coach, I’ve found a direct correlation between people loving their notebook and people using their notebook, so I’ve been on a search or two for something special. I want to point out some of those finds in case their handsomeness can help you get and feel more organized.

  • Circa notebooks are the offspring of a binder and a notebook; they are a superb choice when you need to incorporate reference papers, divide, add to, & possibly re-order pages (yes you can re-order pages with ease!)
  • Action Day Notebooks are another good choice, as they are beautiful & offer structure including an index; the meeting & idea notebooks in particular are worth investigating
  • A quick search on SeeJaneWork will faithfully result in a feminine notebook or two in their ever-changing inventory
  • I’m intrigued by these Japanese notebooks with unique dotted lines that beg for good handwriting and drawings; though the notebooks are thin, they just might be this professional organizer’s next choicedotted lines
  • Behance, one of the companies I heart so, produces several lovely notebooks, most are better for task management systems, but the dot-grid selections at the bottom of the page are good for organizing notes
  • Built with the premise dark lines distract and white lines don’t (amen!), Whitelines notebooks are another winner; they feature a gray sheet with white lines as such on the right

notebooks to organize notes

  • Moleskin is a popular choice because they offer a variety of sizes, styles, colors, and their paper is beautiful; I buy the Cahier Large Squared Notebook in Kraft Brown and then typically adorn the cover with pretty paper (you already knew I was a geek, right?!); one of my notebooks is pictured at the end of this post (and, yes, those were my notes @ the top of the post)
  • Makers Gonna Make offers a simple notebook that celebrates perseverance playfully in its title

Do you have a favorite we missed? Tell us about the notebooks or methods you find keep your notes organized.

how to organize notes

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