I love a good notebook and I’ve been looking for the perfect notebook for many years. Even though I work in IT and have done for several decades, there is something about the feel of paper and pen. The act of writing words out is soothing and has helped me hugely over many years. But it has to be the right notebook and the right pen.
My pen must be good quality, not one of those cheap biro’s, having said that I’ve picked up many good quality pens from conferences and networking over the years. Some I consider favourites and, when the cartridge runs out, instead of throwing them away I head for the nearest stationery shop to replace them.
I’ve had lots of favourite notebooks too, at the moment I love Moleskine – the weight of paper means there’s little bleed-through from one side to the other, and the paper has a soft touch that is gentle on the hand.
But, one thing I’ve never conquered with any number of notebooks or pens is which one has the note I know I wrote down somewhere, that I now need. I was forever flicking between one notebook and the next, thumbing through the pages hoping the right word would jump off the page telling me I had found the right place. And, many was the time I didn’t have the ‘right’ notebook with me, and I ended up resorting to scraps of paper begged and borrowed so I could get the idea down.
As an IT consultant, it was suggested I use an app, and I still do for some things. OneNote is the perfect shared notebook with colleagues, but it never really worked for me individually, mostly because I’m not really an app sort of person. Ticking off my to-do list with a mouse never gives me the same sense of satisfaction as marking it ‘done’ with a pen.
A few years ago I came across the idea of printables, ready prepared sheets that meant I could do anything within just one notebook (or folder in this case). I played around with the idea for a few weeks, I even created a few of my own, before abandoning it as unworkable, for me at least. It’s not the idea that didn’t work, it was the practicality of it. There was never quite the right information or space. I constantly wanted to adjust and adapt because I needed something endlessly customisable, rather than fixed in print. Of course I wasted a huge amount of paper trying to print out pages that would fit my Filofax.
Earlier this year though I found myself wandering through a high-street stationery store and a book caught my eye, The Bullet Journal Method. It was on offer, and although I hovered briefly, wondering if I should pick it up or not, I was time-strapped and didn’t. But the cover had attracted me, black with what looked like silver stars and I had a feeling it might hold the germ of a solution to my notebook problems.
I’d heard about bullet journaling when I was playing about with printables, but again I had dismissed it out of hand. I now realise I didn’t really ‘get it’ back then and had missed the point somewhat.
Several days later and the number of scraps, notes, and to-dos was once again piling up on the side of my desk. I remembered the book and thought, ‘why not if it’s no good at least I’ll have learned something.’. I ordered the book and it duly arrived a couple of days later.
Whilst waiting for it to arrive I was impatient to go out and buy a new notebook – I did say I love stationery didn’t I? But was good and held off as I really wanted to avoid making yet another purchase if I didn’t need to. I was so glad I did, devouring the first part meant I could mentally work out if this might work or not, and I was captivated by the idea of something so seemingly simple, having such a profound effect.
I’m often considered a bit of a butterfly in my family, they find it amusing that I’m into and out of things so fast they can hardly blink sometimes. My interests are varied and I do flit about from one thing to another, so even I was skeptical that this might work.
Two months on and I’m well and truly hooked.
Instead of buying my preferred, expensive notebooks, I picked up a cheap one locally – I reasoned, if I didn’t use it then at least I hadn’t wasted too much money. Equally, I wasn’t sure if the dotted pages, rather than lines would be workable, after all I’m a writer (at least that’s what I tell myself!). And yet, I’ve found they allow a level of creativity I’d never have allowed myself on a conventional page.
My notebook never leaves my side. It’s my constant companion throughout the day. It serves multiple functions as a daily reminder, to-do list, journal, dream journal, action planner, calendar, vision board, tracker, and classic notebook. And I never have a problem finding exactly what I’m looking for because I’m creating an index of pages as I go along. Every page is numbered and noted. I can track forwards and backward, and I don’t need to designate a set number of pages for this project or that journal, I simply use the next page adding a note to the index if necessary.
It’s such a brilliantly simple idea I wonder why I never realised that was the point four years ago! Perhaps I just wasn’t ready for it.
And it’s life-changing too!
I’ve spent many years berating myself for being lazy, not getting enough done, and wasting time. My bullet journal shows me the complete opposite. I now have a record of everything I do and I’ve found it amazing and inspirational to realise just how much I do accomplish on a day-by-day, week-by-week, and now month-by-month basis.
If like me, you’ve been looking for the one perfect notebook to rule them all, perhaps I could suggest a bullet journal. It just works!