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Using Notebooks Effectively


If you’re a stationery lover, there’s a chance you love buying new notebooks. There’s just something about writing in a crisp, new notebook that brings you so much joy.  

As much joy as new notebooks bring us, there’s also a concern about using them effectively. One of our Scribbly family members asked us to provide some tips on how to use a notebook more effectively. I’m sure many of us could benefit from this. I find that I only use part of a notebook before moving on to the next one. Sometimes there are blank pages left or only half a notebook used, but to avoid confusion I’ll start another one.  

If you feel like you do the same, then these tips are for you!  

1. Choose the right notebook 

The key to ensuring using your notebook effectively is making sure you buy a notebook that is right for you. Do you like lines, dots, or blank pages? If you don't know the answer, ask yourself what you need the notebook for or rather how you use the notebook. If you need a notebook to simply take notes, you may like a lined notebook. If you like to draw diagrams or figures, you may prefer a notebook with dots or a blank page to allow more freedom. Your choice of notebook will help make sure you use your notebook effectively. We offer a variety of style of notebooks and journals that you may like to explore.  

2. Assign notebooks for different uses 

Using a different notebook for different subjects helps keep things in order and organized. It also makes it easy for you to quickly reference a notebook you need at the time. Some ideas on how split notebooks are: projects, meetings, notes, or personal journal. This way you know exactly which notebook would have what information. 

3. Create an index 

Ever find that you have to spend ages flipping through a notebook to find exactly what you’re looking for? Using an index or table of contents can help keep things organized. When starting a new notebook, leave the first 1-3 pages blank, that way you can keep adding the pages numbers and their respective subjects to the index. This will help you save time in the long run. The next three tips will help you create an effective index.  

4. Add a date at the top 

One of the most important things to keep your notebook organized. Write the date of your entry at the top; whether it’s the top right or left is completely up to you, but make sure you’re consistent. Personally, I find the top right-hand corner the most effective for easy reference if I’m flipping through the notebook looking for a specific date.  

5. Give headings to pages 

A heading at the top of the page should be a summary of what you’ll find in the writings below. This will help you organize your index and ensure you know what information is on those pages for later reference. You may not always know what heading to give when you start your notes, and that is okay. Finish your notes or meeting and add a heading at the end that you know will help you identify what information is on that page.  

6. Add page numbers 

This is very important if you are using an index. Make sure you don’t skip numbers on any pages, even if those pages are blank. Page numbers are often better on the bottom of the page as it’s easy to open a corner of the notebook to search for a page number. Wherever you choose to include your page number, make sure you are consistent across the notebook.  

7. Start with a fresh page 

We often feel like we should use up that half a page left blank from a previous entry, but it’s really best that you don’t. Starting new entries half-way through a page can cause confusion when you need to look back for information. Starting on a new page, with a header, you can go back and quickly find things you need.  

8. Add colours and sticky tabs 

By using coloured pens and sticky tabs, you can further organize your information. Assign colours to specific information you want to track. Maybe one colour for topics, another for definitions, and one for questions – understand your needs and assign colours accordingly. Sticky tabs work similarly as well. You can use sticky tabs to point to specific information on pages or simply bookmark a page you need to go back to frequently. Sticky pads are also helpful in adding additional notes to a page one it is complete.  

Notebooks are a great way of keeping information organized and in one place, but it is important to ensure they are being used effectively. We shouldn’t think of notebooks as just a book of paper to pour our thoughts on and forget about, but instead as a reference guide that you may need to go back to frequently.  


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