December 4, 2007

The Notebook

I've been having a dialogue with Rita Konig, over on Domino Daily Dose. She was lamenting that she only had one page left in her favourite notebook. I chimed in that I loved notebooks too, and explained my system for being organized. Now, I know several of you out there who know me are laughing unattractively at that comment, but I am organized in some aspects. I love making lists, which became a huge help both when I moved to the UK and when I moved back.

Years ago, I was a caterer. We did a wide range of events, from crab feasts to wedding receptions, all in the same weekends. I had to learn to be very organized so I didn't show up with crab mallets at the wedding, or monogrammed napkins at the crab feast. I couldn't carry all of my client files with me, so I devised a notebook system involving coloured pens. Here's the system:

    • I start a conversation with you about a project we're working on. I grab a pen and make notes. If you're the first conversation of the day, the date goes on the top line.
    • Then my boss comes in and we talk about a proposal I am writing. Again, I grab a pen and make some notes, but on the next page.
    • The phone rings and someone wants to make a gift of stock. I grab a pen, and make notes about what his intentions are.
    • I look through the to-do list that I made on Monday and begin adding notes in a different colour than the original one.
    • The notebook must be lined and be able to lay flat. If it has a ribbon book-mark, all the better. I get these great-looking brocade-covered notebooks from Pearl River in NYC. They're about $4.00 each and make nice hostess gifts.
    When I need to go back and look up something in my notebook, I can just refer to the date at the top of the first page of that day, and then see where each conversation stops and a new one begins by seeing where the colours change. In the image below, you can see where I added something new to the list later on in blue.

    I am the type of person who retains information by writing it down, so this system works really well for me. I also like having a list so I can cross things off it and have a sense of accomplishment. In fund-raising, which I've been doing for ages, I have to juggle many projects so this is another way of being organized. I don't have specific colours for specific people, I just grab a pen from my little urn of pens and start writing.


    1. What a shock - I too am a notebookaholic - same goes for pens. I take a lot of notes and the different colored pens are a great idea. I usually have a green one these days but I had pink ones in publishing. I never cared for red.

      In fact, someone just said to me "cute notebook" - it's black and cream toile print spiral notebook that I bought at Old Navy in the late summer. I am ALWAYS on the hunt for good notebooks :-)

    2. I used to be a bit of a list maker - and fell off the wagon. I'm firmly back to lists - just this week - but love the notebook idea!

    3. I am posting something my way on this topic :-)

    4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    5. As one who retains information by writing it down too, I love your system!

    6. Sometimes you go to a new page, and sometimes you just switch ink colors. What determines which "separating" technique you use?

      Also, is there supposed to be a difference between the "old" notebook and the "current" one? Not sure what the difference is.


    7. The old notebook has several colours on two pages... the new one shows longer notes, with the different colour annotations. Just two examples out of the many notebooks I've used.

      The determining factor between new colour and new page is whether I only have a few lines like the old example, or whole pages like the new one.

    8. I love this system. I used to keep everything packed in my brain really well. But for some strange reason, age has been slowly hacking away at my memory. Notebooks are on my Christmas list.

      Thanks for the tip.

    9. This is a really fun post! I love scribbling notes down and am a chronic list maker in notebooks. Whether I actually complete the lists is another story...It makes me Feel more organized and lets my mind wander a bit. You have such beautiful writing!

    10. Have you seen these cool linkable notebooks for when you fill up a notebook?

    11. I am impressed with the intracacies of your system. I am a basic moleskine girl, but I love the little black book that Anne Hathaway totes in Devil Wears Prada.


      Jen Ramos
      'Earth Friendly DESIGNER Cards'


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