Over the years, the Moleskine notebook has become a trademark staple for anyone dabbling in creative endeavors – especially writers and artists. In fact, the Moleskine is almost as iconic as the Apple laptop, the hipster glasses, and the daily visits to Starbucks.
But simply having one of these notebooks won’t be enough to spark your productivity and get your steam pumping towards optimal efficiency. Here are a few ways you can elevate your Moleskine from “just another notebook” to “I can’t live without this anymore.”
1. Stay Productive With Circle To-Do Lists
The most basic to-do list is often no more than a list of shoddy descriptions of tasks that are crossed out when completed. While this simplicity may be enough for simple tasks that are either “done” or “not done,” you may need a more elegant system for longer-term tasks.
In steps the Circle Method. Basically, this method starts each list item with an empty circle beside it and gradually fills those circles with marks depending on the tasks’ completion levels.
- New Item: To start a new item in the list, draw an empty circle.
- Next Item: To distinguish the next task you want to tackle, place a dot in the center.
- Item Started: To mark a task that you’ve started, cross the circle with a diagonal slash.
- Item Cancelled: To mark a task as trashed, cross the circle with an opposite slash.
- Halfway Complete: When you’re halfway through a task, fill in half of the circle.
- Fully Complete: When a task is completely finished, fill it in all the way.
The method is smart and extremely versatile, allowing you to change the status of a task if necessary.
2. Organize Using The Quadrant Technique
If your notes require a lot of internal referencing, then the Quadrant Technique will be a lifesaver for you. The only downside is that it requires an initial time investment to set up the notebook.
Set up your notebook by dividing each page in half – draw a line through the center, separating the top from the bottom. This will create four quadrants: the top-left quadrant is A, the bottom-left quadrant is B, the top-right quadrant is C, and the bottom-right quadrant is D.
Each group of four quadrants is called a block. Now go through and number each block, starting with 1. I like to place the number in quadrant A, but feel free to put it wherever you like.
That’s it for set up. Now, if you’re writing notes in quadrant 38C (block 38, quadrant C) and need to reference something in block 12, quadrant A, just insert a parenthesis: (12A). Done.
3. Create An Index In The Back
Set aside the last 10 pages of your Moleskine notebook and use them to create a system of indexing. This is extremely useful if you have notes on various topics and intend to reference them over and over again.
In order to use an index, you’ll need to number your pages from start to end. If you’re using the Quadrant Technique, you can use that as your reference instead.
Indexing itself is simple. If you have a page of notes comparing different laptops, flip back to the index and write on a new line, Laptop Comparison, page 38. Now, if you need to reference that comparison, you can find it easily. Instead of flipping through the entire notebook, you only need to flip through the 10 or so pages in the index.
The indexing system grows more useful as your notebook grows more packed with information.
4. Divide The Notebook With Plastic Tabs
Bump up your notebook’s organization by using plastic divider tabs, especially if you use your Moleskine for more than one purpose.
If you’re using the previously mentioned quadrant technique and indexing system, you might feel tempted to just fill out your notebook as you go. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it certainly isn’t optimal. Wouldn’t it be easier on your mind to split up the notebook in chunks and assign each chunk to a topic?
The plastic tabs, then, are a great way to visualize the different sections. Combine this with the other organizational techniques, and you’ll soon find your Moleskine becoming an integral part of your life.
5. Choose the Right Pen
Believe it or not, you can boost your Moleskine notebook to the next level simply by switching to a different pen. Which pen should you switch to? That’s entirely up to you. However, there are a few guidelines for which pens work well with the Moleskine.
- Choose a pen that doesn’t bleed. Using a pen that bleeds through the pages can be disastrous. At best, you’ll render clean pages unusable. At worst, you’ll render past work illegible. Mostly, you’ll just turn your notebook into a mess of ink spots, and that might keep you from wanting to use it anymore.
- Choose a pen that doesn’t smear. Similar to the bleeding problem, a wet pen that smears easily will result in notes that can no longer be read. Even if you’re careful as you write, the ink will smear as soon as you close the notebook. Avoid smearing pens unless you want to wait for the ink to dry every time you jot down a note.
- Choose a pen that feels comfortable in your hand. It’s amazing how holding the right pen can make you want to write more. Pen comfort is individual, so you’ll need to find one that fits your hand well. It doesn’t matter if you need a thin pen, fat pen, long pen, short pen, or one with rubber grips – get one that you enjoy writing with.
If you need a recommendation, try using the Pilot G2 pen. It won’t break the bank, it doesn’t smear or bleed, and it writes smoothly.
If you don’t use your Moleskine all that often, then you probably won’t gain much benefit from applying these tricks to your routine. However, if you use your Moleskine enough that you carry it around with you everywhere, then these tricks can heighten your notebook to the next level. Let us know in the comments what tricks you use.
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