You may be wondering why you should even bother setting up a notebook organization system. After all, it can be a lot of work, and it’s not like your business is going to run itself. But here are a few reasons why it might be worth your time:
- You want to be more organized and efficient
- You need a system for tracking projects and tasks
- You want to take better notes in meetings or during research
- You’re tired of wasting time looking for information
- You want a place to store ideas and inspirations
3 common challenges people face without a notebook organization system
- Can’t find things when they need them
- Don’t know where to record information
- Lose track of projects
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost track of a project or spent hours looking for something. It’s frustrating and wastes time- which is the most precious commodity in business today.
That’s why I’m going to show you how to set up an organized notebook system that works for you, so your day can be more productive and less stressful!
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1. Choose the right notebook type: digital or paper
Choosing the right notebook type is important because it will affect how you organize and use your information.
For example, digital tools, such as Evernote and Notion, are excellent for tracking projects and tasks. You can easily create categories, add due dates, and make notes.
On the other hand, if you’re a visual person, you may prefer to use a paper notebook to track projects because you can draw diagrams and create charts. Experiment with different types of notebooks to see what works best for you.
Consider your needs
Start by considering your personality and style. Then choose a notebook type that will fit those needs. For example, suppose you’re a visual person but your tasks are mainly text-based. In that case, a paper notebook may be too limiting. However, if you’ve tried using a digital system for organizing projects but feel like it’s clunky and not intuitive enough to use quickly in the heat of the moment, a paper notebook might be better for you.
2. Determine what you want to use your notebook for
The second step is to determine what you want to use your notebook for. This is important because it will help you create a system that works for you. You may want to use one notebook for all of your business needs, or you may prefer separate notebooks for specific purposes. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Notebook for tracking projects and tasks
- Notebook for taking meeting notes
- Notebook for recording research findings
- Notebook for brainstorming ideas
- Notebook for reference materials
If you choose to go the digital route, you can set up Evernote notebooks for each category.
You can have different sections of a single notebook devoted to each idea in a bullet journal.
Or you could have a separate physical notebook for each type of notebook you want to keep. If you decide to use multiple notebooks, then find a way to distinguish between them easily. For example, you could buy notebooks in a range of colors or decorate them with washi tape.
Let’s take a deeper dive into each organizing notebook you might want to set up.
Tracking Projects and Tasks
Having a notebook for planning will help you keep track of projects and tasks. The perfect notebook for this is your digital one. Choose the ones you want to use, create categories, and ensure you have all of the information needed, such as due dates, next steps, and notes about each project.
Set up a separate folder or notebook for each project to make it easier to find items later on. You can use a folder system, add tags, or use another method that makes it easy to locate the information when you need it.
Taking Meeting Notes
If you take meeting notes by writing them out, you can use a paper notebook. But if you prefer to type your notes, digital is the way to go. Either way, a meetings notebook is a must!
Create separate notebooks for each project or client that you meet with regularly. For example, you may find it helpful to have one for business meetings and another for personal ones. If they’re both business-related, you can just use one notebook and dedicate different sections to each type of meeting.
Recording Research Findings
If you’re doing research, why not use your digital notebook? You can type out your findings and include links to anything you’ve read that is relevant to the topic.
Two words: paper notebook. It’s perfect for this because you can brainstorm in many different ways, making it easy to switch up your method when you get bored. For example, you can use different colors of pens or highlighters to organize your thoughts by category. Or you can draw arrows to connect ideas. Go crazy!
Organizing Reference Materials
Categorizing your reference materials will make them easier to find when you need them for a specific project.
If you’re using digital notebooks, create separate files for each type of document or file (e.g., invoices, receipts, resumes). Then, label them according to their project (e.g., client proposal).
If you prefer paper notebooks, head to an office supply store and get some pockets. Add labels like “invoices” and “receipts” on the front of each pocket, so it’s easy to find things later on.
3. Create a system that works for you
Creating a notebook organization system that works for you is essential to being productive and staying organized. You need to find a system that is easy to use and fits your personality. If you try to use a system that doesn’t work for you, it will only cause frustration and stress.
The best way to find what works for you is to experiment with different types of notebooks and systems. For example, try using a digital notebook for tracking projects and tasks if you’re a visual person. On the other hand, if you prefer paper notebooks, try using one specifically for taking meeting notes. Then, see which method of note-taking works best for you and stick with it.
Systems I’ve referenced over the years
Over the years, I’ve read many books and articles about productivity and organization systems.
But following a single rigid system or methodology from one of those books can be limiting.
My system has evolved over time by pulling the parts I need from each. It’s a hybrid of everything I’ve read and learned over the years.
And that’s how I encourage you to approach setting up your own notebook organization system.
A good organizational system can make all the difference in your productivity, so it’s essential to find one that works for you.
Getting Things Done
One particular system that has been influential in my notebook organization is called Getting Things Done (GTD), created by David Allen.
In GTD, you use a “trusted system” to track what needs to be done and where it belongs, which will help you remember all your tasks and projects.
My favorite part of GTD is the beginning, where you capture all the thoughts and ideas that come to you out of nowhere.
I’ve found this part of the system especially relevant as a solopreneur who works from home. My mind is always wandering to what I’m going to cook for dinner or what I need to do around the house.
Another tenet of GTD that has really influenced me is focusing on actionable tasks, specifically the next action that I need to take.
Bullet Journal Method
While I’ve never gone all-in with a bullet journal, I do use some aspects of the bullet journal system.
If you decide to use a bullet journal, here are a few notebook organization hacks to help you organize it.
- Include Table of Content pages in your notebooks
- Set up an index
- Create collections
4. Experiment and customize your system as needed
It’s essential to experiment with different types of notebooks and systems to find what works best for you. This way, you can customize your system to fit your needs and make it as easy as possible to use. You may need to change your system periodically as your needs change.
Make sure the changes you make are because you want them-not because someone else is telling you how it should be or because you found a shiny new idea!
Think about what kind of notebook organization system would work well for your business, and always keep in mind that there is no “right” way to do things. Do what works best for you!
5. Make time to process your notes
One of the most important aspects of using a notebook organization system is processing your notes. This means going through your notes and organizing them, adding any additional information you may need, and deciding what to do with them.
If you don’t take the time to process your notes, you’ll end up with a lot of disorganized information that will be difficult to find later on. Not to mention, you won’t get the full benefit of using a notebook organization system if you don’t take the time to properly use it.
Make sure you set aside time to go through your notes and get them organized. This may take longer at first as you get used to your new system, but it will get easier. This can be part of your daily routine, or you can do it weekly or monthly if you prefer.
So, there you have it. A simple guide to setting up your own notebook organization system that works for you. It may take a little bit of experimentation at first, but once you find what works, stick to it! A well-organized notebook can help make business life a lot easier. And remember, the key is to keep it simple so you’ll actually keep using it!
Many people use digital notebooks to keep notes organized, whether it’s on their computer or phone. Paper notebooks are also popular, but many people have problems staying organized unless they have a system in place, so they know where to find the information later.
Organizing your reference materials is important for many reasons, but one is that you can create files by category (e.g., invoices, resumes). Each file would contain only the necessary documents-not everything under the sun! You can label the files accordingly, with the most important documents coming first, making it quick and easy to find what you are looking for each time. This also makes filing your papers much simpler.
Meeting notes can be kept by using a notebook specifically designed for them along with one color pen. The notebooks typically have an extra pocket where additional printed materials can be placed for quick access later on.
Project management apps that allow you to sync across different devices are popular nowadays because they make staying organized that much easier. You can create separate lists or checklists for tracking specific tasks related to the project, whether it’s done on paper or in digital format, using apps like Asana.
Separate notebooks are helpful for organizing your notes when you are doing research because they allow you to take detailed notes on specific books, articles, or websites while keeping related information together. You can also use one color pen to mark down which source it’s from so that if you need to go back later and skim the sources again, you know where each piece of information came from.
Once your notes have been processed, many people choose to archive them either digitally or physically in a filing cabinet or storage box. The key is being able to find what you’re looking for quickly whenever you need it.
Processing your notes isn’t necessary for every single usage. However, if you want to get the most out of your notebook organization system, processing each note is advisable. Try out different time frames, such as weekly, biweekly, or monthly, to see what works better for you.
There are a couple of things that can help with this. For one thing, create a list of all the benefits you’ll receive from keeping yourself organized: better sleep, higher productivity levels at work, etc. You could also reward yourself with something after staying on top of it for a while (e.g., purchasing something on your wish list).
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