Everything into one notebook
December 30, 2013 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Help me organize my notebook. Separate sections or all mixed up?

Some book users keep one notebook where everything goes: shopping lists, journals, notes, doodles, on the next blank page. When the notebook is full you archive it all, a snapshot of time as it happened.

I own a Circa notebook. In case you don't know it, it's a disc-bound notebook where you can replace and move pages around easily, similar to a three-ring binder. I kept separate sections. Archiving was a problem because infrequent sections never got archived. I currently keep two sections, my agenda and the rest. It's kinda not working for me.

How do you organize your notebook?
posted by jgwong to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
I always keep a small Moleskine with me, and I just go chronologically.
posted by radioamy at 2:00 PM on December 30, 2013

Yeah, I date the pages - that seems to keep stuff straight enough.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:10 PM on December 30, 2013

Best answer: I recently answered a similar question with this: bullet journal! I found it very helpful and a simple method for organizing all my random lists.
posted by Empidonax at 2:12 PM on December 30, 2013 [13 favorites]

Maybe have fewer categories? How many did you have before when it wasn't working? Try to come up with a few different combinations that's less than the most, more than two.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:12 PM on December 30, 2013

Response by poster: restless_nomad: I date everything and number the pages.

Empidonax: That question looks helpful! Thanks!

bluedaisy: I had around five categories, but then I went trimming the ones that saw little or no use.
posted by jgwong at 2:26 PM on December 30, 2013

Best answer: I'm an obsessive note taker.

I keep a single journal - 8.5" x 5" with lined pages, similar to a Moleskin - and work through it chronologically. I won't put more than one entry on any single place (and obviously, some entries take up more than one page). Each new entry is dated, and also given an entry number that continues from journal to journal.

Every time I start a new journal I skip the first four pages, which I make into an index (two columns per page, eight columns total). Every time I create a new entry, I update the index with three things: Entry number, date, and short (1-3 word) title. Old journals get stored in my home office. I can quickly and easily find anything I need in any of the journals.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 3:09 PM on December 30, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Having spent much of my adult life looking for a system that works for me, I've been using a slightly modified bullet journal format for the last year or so. Given my history, it's hard to say with any confidence that this system will last me the rest of my life, but I love it because it's so very flexible. Just start writing at the first available page. The index at the front lets you keep track of it all.

As I finish a notebook, I archive it. Also, I take a picture of the index and post it to Evernote, noting the start and finish dates of the notebook.
posted by bluejayway at 3:16 PM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I color code each category with post-it notes or flags as tabs. Consolidate the one offs into a misc. category. Having a legend taped to the inner front cover for the colors helps me remember the categories. It's the only system that works for me.
posted by deinemutti at 4:41 PM on December 30, 2013

Best answer: My Notebooks:
First page - contact information if lost
Next few pages - Index. I don't fill it out much, honestly
Onwards - Random journal. I often number every other page, so I can index, or refer from my todo lists etc, if I'd been plotting out a project etc.

From back page in reverse order:
2-4 pages of contacts. Handy to have my most used numbers if I don't have my phone, or it's out of charge etc.
To Do list - Bullet point next to each item, then I cross it out from the bullet point when done. Sometimes I'll randomly pick a page and label it something like 'Books to read' etc. At least 1/3 of the journal ends up as todo list. I squiggle line through items I've decided not to do, and cross out the entire page when complete. It's satisfying, and lets me see when there are items I am just never going to get round to, so I make my peace with them and let them go, rather than readding them to some newer todo list, like I used to do.

Optional calendar:
I now kinda use google calendar for appointments, or I was, but in the past, I used to have a half A4/letter page sized monthly calendar folded in the pocket at the back of my journal.
I'd put my appointments on it, and anything for future months in the back, and then I'd just get another page for the next month, so I never had more than two half pages folded there.

Journal itself is always a Moleskine-style journal, although I vastly prefer the knockoffs to moleskines themselves. Boring covers, and they don't start their lines with the right gap at the top and bottom. One had a groove in the cover for the elastic which was nice, but a horizontal piece of elastic is even more convenient, because you can stick your pen in it.
My upcoming journal (I always have a spare or two, so I'm not caught without one) has about 1/3 unlined pages, which is neat. I'll be able to draw on it, and if not, I can just use a line template to use it how I want anyway (sometimes I print out a line template for use with unlined pages, so I can see the template through the page).
posted by Elysum at 6:01 PM on December 30, 2013

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