Tools of the Trade: Notebooks for work

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Work Notebook cropped

I know some people like to keep work notes electronically, but I prefer paper for speed of writing and to organize my thoughts physically in front of me.

After an online conversation about notebooks at work, Patty wrote an excellent post on how she used her notebooks in her fast-paced work environment to capture and process information. I especially like her method of lining through the entire page when all the information has been processed.

Jordan wrote a great post awhile back on her blog The Crazy Life of J about how she uses her Journal 21 planner and a notebook together at work. It’s a great combination of planning her days in detail in the Journal 21, and recording notes in her notebook. She, like many, uses a steno (top-spiral) notebook for work notes. I never have been able to use a steno book effectively because I like to see things across a two-page spread.

Starting my new job here on Quo Vadis blog meant I got to start a new notebook! Huzzah! I looked through my embarrassingly huge stash of notebooks and chose a Clairefontaine A5 size staple-bound notebook because it’s slim and portable, and of course for the wonderful paper.

What type of notebook do you like to use for work?

8 thoughts on “Tools of the Trade: Notebooks for work

  1. A familiar face! I look forward to seeing more of your posts, Laurie.

    I’ve bounced around a bit with notebooks, just like planners. I’ve tried them all – bound, spiral, Moleskine-types, Circa/Rollabind, Steno Pads, compostion notebooks.

    I prefer the look of bound books, but I have found spiral bindings more functional when I’m sitting at a conference table with limited space. But spirals are horrible in a handbag, so they’re work only. At the moment, I’ve got quite a stash of A5 ones by Mara-Mi – they typically have four sections with different coors on the edges (classier than the old 3 subject notebook) and have great paper with generous line spacing.

    I also use a Steno pad for my work phone log. It tucks in nicely next to my phone so that I remember to use it.

    At the moment, I’m using a Franklin Covey ring-bound planner, so personal notes go in there. When I was all-digital for personal, I carried a Habana A6 journal.

    • Hi Bree! It’s great to see you here! I agree I prefer bound notebooks, but spiral bound is easier to use when space is limited. I use a Clairefontaine A5 spiral bound thin notebook to take notes during my kids’ violin lessons. I sit with the notebook on my lap and write down the songs and exercises they are supposed to practice during the week so I can help them (they are still very young and don’t practice effectively by themselves yet). I like the spiral because it folds back on itself and is easier to use in my hand.

  2. Sandy what a great idea to use a new notebook every semester. I bet you have been able to solve many debates with the information in your books! That’s a great record, and so organized.

    Linda I like your indexing ideas. That’s a great way to get your ideas and information down on the page without worrying about where it should go, and sorting out the indexing later for easy reference.

  3. I use composition notebooks for all of my notes. I am a university professor and start a new notebook at the beginning of each semester. Everything goes in there. By keeping all meeting notes, to-do lists, and follow-up notes in one place, I always have the notes that I need very handy. The notebooks are good references for future when recall of a discussion or meeting is needed. I keep them all and label by semester. The notebooks are cheap and come in a plethora of designs & colors. Composition notebooks are slightly smaller than my Quo Vadis President planner and the same size as my iPad. I carry the trio everywhere at work.

  4. For work, it’s pieces of paper from an 8×10 tablet that gets filed in different folders when I’m done.

    For my writing, it’s a Moleskine cahier, one of the light colored ones. The notes are in random groupings inside, so research for the next book together, notes from local places I’ve visited elsewhere, ideas in the back, etc. I use the back cover (why the light cover is important) to list the projects and the places, sort of like the old Writer Magazine used to look. I also have a visual table of contents in the front.

  5. Nancy sent this comment:


    It’s great to have you here on QVB! I enjoy Plannerisms and Filofaxy very much!

    I use a Leather-bound, Spiral Professional Journal from TOPS business products because I found it in the supply room!

    Each page can be numbered and there is an index and stickers to place on page edges if you need to.

    It doesn’t go home with me as I am a Case Manager, so I use a Memogenda for home and CAL on my Android phone.

    I find that it works for me pretty well.

    All the best,


    Thanks for your comment Nancy! 🙂

  6. Patty I agree, I have to have a simple notebook for work. If it’s too complicated or formatted it’s an impediment. And it has to be easy for me to replace when it’s filled or else I’m afraid to write as much as I need in it. It can’t be precious, it has to be a workhorse.

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