The blank page of a notebook can be daunting. Consistently organized information can be found more easily, that’s the point of SEO and useful for a handwritten page too. However, I feel that the prevalence of curated notebook pages on social media can cause us to focus more on a perfect ideal instead of a useful document. Here are three tips I use in my notebooks to keep them organized without falling prey to perfectionism.
Tip 1 – Use a Page Template
Did your elementary school teacher ask you to write your homework assignments in a certain way with your name, the date, and the assignment? It made grading much easier! That simple lesson in consistency can apply to your notebook too.
For example, I prefer to track my time manually. Over the years I’ve used many different digital time tracking tools. This really does work the best for me!
On my time tracking page, I use a highlighter or marker to draw a line 5 boxes from the right-hand side. This is where I put billable time. On the other side, I write the date in a consistent format, preferring a simple string with a letter-based day, for example 20210401R. It’s faster. My single letter day of week thoughts can be found at a rainbow of highlighters. Then each line is a time entry and if I need more room to write I keep going. The hard margin line helps to make sure I don’t write over and muddle what is most important for me.
Tip 2 – Consistency with a Caveat
The bullet journal culture infected me and for a few years I wrote only with black or dark grey ink. It made the page easy to read and if something was highlighted in a different color it stood out. However, it caused perfectionism issues if I didn’t have a black pen available.
When my partner organized his desk, he found a box of 24 ball point pens in the bottom of a drawer and gave to me. I’m not one to turn down free stationary supplies! The problem? They were blue. It took me a few months but now my notes are written in several inks and the difference doesn’t cause me to pause. I’m writing more notes because I grab any pen and write! I still try to keep the brighter colors for highlighting important things.
As you can see above, my handwriting is not always the neatest. I don’t mind scribbles or smears. I always received poor marks for my penmanship in grade school.
Tip 3 – Labels
These are my secret weapon. I love the tiny return address labels the best, but often use other sizes and cut them in half. I most often use these within my logbooks to bring consistency.
Here are a selection of labels I’ve printed over the years, some of these are very old!
- The label that looks like a shirt (it’s a croquis torso) is from when I spent time at an office twice a week and wanted to try to prevent wearing the same clothing each week … and practice my sketching skills.
- I’ve since moved to a dedicated notebook for my meal planning lists but shipping labels were a great size for this.
- Return address labels are great for routine tasks even though I’ve switched to using a digital todo list for these.
Last week for little acorn creations, I wrote about how I use labels in my notes.
I hope these three tips provide ideas on how you can use your notebooks!