Somehow over the years I became a pen and notebook fiend. Well okay a snob of sorts. I am picky about the notebook (spiral versus bound versus so many other options). If I use a spiral notebook it has to have a double spiral. The paper matters too. I do not want thin paper where the ink seeps through. What is printed on the also paper matters. I am not a fan of ruled lines, as it makes me feel I have to keep between the lines and whether it is college or wide, oh that just makes my head spin. Give me mini blocked graph paper or plain any day and let me craft my notes, ideas, and messages as I wish.
Then you have the pen. That matters even more. The pen completely emphasizes how you write. Over time I began to learn that the thinner the tip the better. The thing with pens is usually the thinner the tip, the more design-esque the pen is which means that the tip can easily break. Then I fell in love with Muji. In the US you usually find that a thin tip pen is .5 mm. Muji makes a .38 mm pen. The tips do not break. I cannot leave home without mine. Chris brings me a bundle every time he comes back from Asia. It’s my only ask when he goes away on his trips.
Put the right paper/notebook with the right pen and it is pure zen in and of itself. Somehow the cards all fall into place and I feel I can let the creativity flow (most of the time). When I saw this article titled: “Why You Should Carry a Notebook with You Everywhere” from 99U, it made so much sense. Sure you can document your world digitally, but there is something about putting pen to paper. Whether you are bored in that meeting and brainstorm how to rearrange your living room or you map out how to solve a business problem, having a notebook with you means you probably encapsulate more of your thoughts on a daily basis.
I know I often go back to my notebook at work and find I connect the dots from different ideas. Too many conversations and ideas happen in a given day (and sometimes just within an hour of a day). Putting pen to paper can make all the difference.
You are bombarded with items on your to-do list. Some are large-scale projects, some have longer time lines than others, and then you have all those pesky little details you have to track. Call ____ back, email ____, follow-up on ____. There are days when my to-do list is mind-boggling, and there is not enough time in the day to get through the list. How do I coordinate and prioritize what I need to do each day?
First, I am old school. I still work with a notebook. My phone, pen, and notebook are always with me when at work. My phone keeps me up-to-date on emails, texts, and phone calls during the day and alerts me if any priorities have to shift. I might not have time to respond or handle a request, but based on the individual and the urgency of the need, I can still respond quickly (during a lull in a meeting or while walking to my next meeting) and let the individual(s) know when they can expect a response from me. My notebook keeps me on target with what I need to get done. I should also own stock in Post-Its. On the front of my notebook there is a Post-It, and sometimes there are many Post-Its. Anything that makes it to the front of my notebook means it has been escalated to: “needs to happen today or this week.” Somehow this process works for me. Yes, I go through quite a few Post-Its, but I find that colorful, visible reminders help me tackle what needs to happen each day. My iPhone is great, but it does not yell at me in the same way.
3. If not, where does it fit relative to the other tasks?
4. Is someone waiting on me for this?
5. If so, when do they need it?
6. Does working/not working on this now have long-term consequences that I’m missing?”
I thought these were great questions that can be asked each day (and throughout the day). Sometimes there are so many items on my to-do list that I just want to be able to cross them off so I do not have to look at them anymore. Other times I want to focus on getting all the little things done so I can feel like I can focus on the larger projects and not have to think about the nitty-gritty.
I crave being organized. Many years ago I even thought I might become a professional organizer. While that never happened it is still a strong theme in my life. It keeps me balanced. When I have way too many things going on in my head (which is often) then sometimes my wires get crossed and the words that come out of my mouth are blended together. Somehow Chris understands me (well for the most part). So, staying organized keeps me and my life in order.
One of the ways I stay organized is with lists. I make them in my personal life and I make them at work. I have become a bit addicted with that sharp line I use when I cross something off the list. Since I like to stay inspired and creative in the process of being organized, the journal, paper, and pen that I use are very important. My pens of choice are Muji (.38) as I like to write with a fine tip pen, but not one where the point dulls after use, such as ones you might use for art. The Muji pens do not dull, so they fit me perfectly.
Journals are another thing all together. I am not one for lined paper, but if I have to used lined paper, it better be college ruled, because I write small. If I got what I wanted it would be graph paper, or paper with tiny dots, not to thin so the ink can be seen through it. It is the little things that make such a difference in the art of staying organized.
So a week or so ago when I came across this Fast Company article: “This Note-Taking System Turns You Into An Efficiency Expert” I was intrigued. See I forgot to mention that while in meetings or around anyone with a notebook or journal, I get curious to see how they organize their life. Do they do everything in their iOS device? Do they have a page for To-Dos, and a page for notes? Do they track by date? Are they using post-its? Why? I am always hoping I can vicariously learn from another’s organization process.
The Fast Company article mentions Bullet Journal, a process the developer spent 10 years putting together. It seems like a handy way to organize life. I am not sure it will work for my personal life, as I do much of that in the Any.do app, but I think it just might fit for organizing my work life. I tried last week, and decided to purchase a fresh Moleskin, graph paper notebook over the weekend. Sort of like turning over a new leaf. See below for a video about the Bullet Journal.