There’s a notebook for that.

Its taken a really long time but I have finally settled on my physical notebook situation that I use on a regular basis. I originally was trying to fit everything into a single book, a Hobonichi. Foolishness. No instead, what I actually needed was 5 distinct notebooks, plus a bunch of little pocket notebooks. Lets unpack that.

1 / The Sketchbook

I wish I had stumbled across this concept earlier in my life. Keep a sketchbook for exploration. Use one notebook and fill it with all the sketches, rough, finished, try different mediums, give yourself room to explore. What you might find in those pages is your style moving; shifting; growing. A visual playground of your own creation. What’s interesting about this is the first few pages are going to be poor even to your eyes. Don’t feel discouraged. Persevere and you will see yourself slowly but surely getting better.

My notebook of choice for this type of notebook is a blank A5 Midori MD.

2 / The Journal

Your thoughts are like water.

Now in my 5th year of regular journalling I don’t do this as often as I want (twice a day), but I have been carving some time out every day to go through it. This is your mental dumping ground. This is where you letter your mind write whatever it wants. The paper is not going to judge you. Better for you to write it down than let it float and bounce around your head.

For this, I have settled on the excellent sized B6 Cafe Note from Nanami paper. I’ve got a Gfeller cover that will last me years and years to come.

3 / The Writer

Turns out the best way to write articles, books or anything is to get it onto paper first. While my online writing can be captured pretty quickly in Drafts or iA Writer, when I want to work something out, the sequence of thoughts and ideas, there is nothing better than paper. For stringing these thoughts into cohesive sentences I go digital, but for working things out, I go analogue.

Although I am currently using some Muji A5 notebooks, I have a massive Seven Seas Nanami notebook waiting to be used just for this purpose. Once my current notebook is finished (probably end of the year), can shift over to the book that will last me a whole lot longer.

4 & 5 / Meeting Notes & Taskmanager

For years I employed the bullet journal method to get shit done at work. It was invaluable to me. However one of the issues is we live in an increasingly digital world and there are far to many channels. I found myself breaking the mould and away from some of the basic things that make the system useful (put the date at the top, collection of tasks for a topic, bullets for notes). It was all getting messy again. I also found the A5 notebook wasn’t getting filled out very well.

So I decided to split things a little. I have two A6 notebooks. One dedicated for just notes, ideas, whatever. The other is just to capture all of my actions into individual buckets. Every page is a channel. Whenever a task pops up I put it into one of the channels

My go to are the Hobonichi A6 notebooks. Blank and beautiful. No eccentric Japanese quotes or sketches of foxes or whatever else they have added recently to the Techo. I know this is probably part of the charm, but to be honest, I want that 20% lost paper per page to be mine.

6 / Pocket Notebooks

Finally I have been using pocket notebooks for over a decade. These go with me wherever I go. Its a practice that has served me well and even if it’s one note, its one note less bouncing in your head or worse, lost forever. I hate that.


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