How I use notebooks: My current set-up

by Stuart Lennon

Recently, a couple of customers have asked, how I use notebooks and what my ‘go-to/ set-up is. There are countless ways to use a notebook. But for me, I don’t really have one single ‘go-to’ setup. It varies.

A big perk of my job is that I have access to a lot of different notebooks. Despite lots of variations, there is a common thread in how I use notebooks. At the core, my setup involves three notebooks. This is my current setup.

How I use notebooks, my current set-up: Rhodia, Field Notes, Write notepads

Usually, I will have three notebooks on the go for daily use. Currently I’m scribbling in a Rhodia Goal, Field Notes Campfire and Write Notepads reporter’s notepad.

How I use notebooks: Bullet Journal

I'll start with the largest; a Rhodia Goal Book. This is very, very close to the Bullet Journal by Leuchtturm1917. Both books are excellent, and I use them both.

I am a convert to the Bullet Journaling system designed by Ryder Carroll. I love its forgiveness and its flexibility. If you haven't heard of it, check-out my brief introduction to bullet journal basics.

My own practice with the Bullet Journal is quite stripped down. I like to start each day's log with a couple of key outcomes that I want to achieve that day. Usually, I will write those in at the end of the previous working day, or even in the evening at home. This helps me maintain a focus on important things - and fixes them in my mind before the distractions of the day start invading my head. I'm certain that it helps me sleep too. My subconscious gets to work with a clear target.

At my desk in the morning, I'll then rapid log all the bits and pieces that need doing. This takes five minutes, but is important. It's a kind of housekeeping exercise. I want all of those things out of my head and onto a piece of paper. I'll transfer things from my pocket notebook (more on that below) and from my electronic sources at this point. 

As I 'download' all of these things, I am automatically filtering. Some tasks get delegated, some get cancelled, some prioritised and some deferred. By the time I have finished, I already have an idea of how my day is likely to shape up. Throughout the day, I'll add to the list, tick things off and may even make journal entries. No rules.

My current writing implement of choice is the one in the picture - a Faber Castell E-motion. I favour fountain pens, but have recently started developing a taste for pencils too.

At the end of the day, I use my notebook to review and migrate, starting the process for the next day. I am trying to note one thing to be grateful for too, trying to 'see the positive' as it were.

Well, I like to think that I do that each day. Sometimes, I get caught up in dealing with a problem, start shouting at people before realising that I'm late for an appointment and running out of the office with the wrong keys and forgetting my phone...but this is a blog post, so let's just assume that all is perfect. ;-)

Actually, this is an important point. Life gets in the way. The world keeps turning if I forget to review my day. I just do it the next day. (Worth remembering.) 

How I use notebooks: Scratch Pad

How I use notebooks as a scratchpad - Write Notepad reporters pad

A lot of my work is based at a computer. Although there are many ways to use modern equipment to note things, I still find it easier to use a notebook as a scratch pad.

Today, for example, Story Supply sent me an email with the weight and dimensions of my latest order. I need these to organise shipment. I jot them on my scratch pad. Currently this is a Reporter's notebook from Write Notepads & Co. Beautiful. Functional and sturdy. 120 pages too. Once things are completed, I just cross through them. 

How I use notebooks: Every Day Carry

how I use notebooks as EDC - Field Notes Campfire

Last, but not least, is my Every Day Carry notebook; my EDC. I find this to be one of the most useful ways to use a notebook. In the perfect world, I would carry my Goal book and scratch pad with me (and probably more too).

I have tried. I have some beautiful bags. Old school leather briefcases, backpacks, and messengers. Sometimes, I even use them. Those times, I have notebooks, laptops, cameras and all sorts of cool kit.

However, a lot of the time, I jump out with a phone, my wallet and car keys. Being a well-insulated sort of fellow, I don't often have a jacket. So, pocket space is at a premium.  

Into my cargo shorts or jean's back pocket goes a pocket notebook and a pen. In this case, a Field Notes Campfire Quarterly Edition. The pen will almost certainly be a Kaweco. A Lilliput (I have a Copper) or one of my AL Sports. In this case, the brass. These pens are made for hard, casual use. Small and tough.

Some of my fellow fountain pen users will have raised eyebrows.

"A fountain pen? With Field Notes? What about feathering? Bleed through? Show through?"

Yes. Indeed these things can occur. I don't care. 

My pocket notebook is a tool. I use it as an extension of my other notebooks. I jot things in it as and when they occur to me. Sometimes, I rip pages out to give someone a note. I have even been known to stick things in it with a clip or a staple!

Every day, some things will be transferred from the EDC to another book. Some things may not, either because they are no longer important, or because they are finished.

I use my pocket notebooks hard. When they're finished, I put them into an archive box, and grab a new one. (Never the same brand.)

Thats the core of my system. What's yours? How do you use notebooks?