Notebooks – the professional approach

As any regular (or not so regular) reader will know I love notebooks and I have blogged on a number of occasions about  how I use my notebooks. This has mainly been in the context of studying and notetaking and I was reminded that I haven’t discussed how I use notebooks in my professional life and how this differs from the academic approach.

At work I use notebooks a lot less than I did as a student. I work in a paperless office, we have excellent filing and case management systems therefore notebooks are less of a priority – but we all have them. There is obviously not the same structure/flow of work and I don’t need them all the time. Their main purposes are: meetings, to-dos, instructions from fee earners and notes/reminders.Everything else (specific work) has a place on our system/electronic file.

As alwaysI have a rather structured approach. My work notebooks/pads include:

  • 1 notebook per key client (A4 exercise books)
  • Spiral-bound Reporters Notebook for general meetings – easy to carry downstairs to the meeting-room, but enough paper so I’m not writing in tiny lettering and I can slip a pen in the spiral bit. I frequently write the “minutes” and type up what I write and circulate it round the team anyway. Everyone else can get away with having no notebook.
  • Binder with pad for legal updates –  This is for when we have legal training or update meetings -I use a binder so I can attach any information given out – case notes, power points etc but still have the pad to take notes.
  • selection of A5 and A6 Legal Pads for scribbling instructions – this is my desk pad – I scribble things when people come and talk to me or give me instructions, I also draft attendance notes, doodle when on hold and do the math.
  • A7 Black n’ Red which has a permanent place in my pocket for when I am walking around and someone calls me over to ask me to do something and I need to take notes. Or for when I go to see a fee earner about one thing and come back with an extra couple of jobs they want me to do. I can note the important stuff in this notebook so I don’t have to take up their time revisiting/emailing
  • To-Do notebook and mousepad – for maintaining my to-do list.
  • The “Bible” – my how-to guide for others. I made an extensive one in my last job for when I left and I’ve been putting together something similar to make it easier for me to train up new members of staff, as i am so busy I need them to get into the swing of things quickly. (more on this later).

What approach do you take?

Simon’s Cat – Diaries and Calendars for 2011.

I know it is way too early to be agonising over your diary choice for next year (I can’t talk I’ve already bought my colour-a-month for 2011).

But I came across this today and thought I would share.

Simon’s Cat is offering a 10% discount on calendars and diaries for next year if you pre-order before October. Diaries are priced at £9.99 for the A5, and £6.99 for the slim line. The site allows you to preview January images – as can be expected there is a whole range of cute drawings. What more could you ask for.

Cheltenham Festivals Members’ Bookbinding

This caught my eye:

Extra event — Members’ Bookbinding Workshop

Event W28, Thursday 14 October, 10am – 1pm, £45 (inc. £15 of materials), membership discount is not available for this event.

Join conservator Sue Crossley for an introduction to historic bookbinding skills. Using traditional hand tools you will make a leather bound journal from cotton rag printing paper and vegetable tanned goat skins in a range of beatuiful colours. This workshiop is suitable for complete beginners.

Why oh why am I a working girl !

Knock Knock: 5 Days A Week

I totally love Knock Knock Products: plus I love their tagline: We put the fun in functional


When I was in the US I said I had to get at least one Knock Knock Product. I ended up getting the  5 days a week paper mousepad – which is basically – another to-do list!

However, what is great about it is:

  1. it takes up no extra room on my already cluttered desk!
  2. I always know where it is, unlike my legal pad for to do scribbles or my to-do list notebook. (Not to say that the to-do list notebook isn’t great for the more detailed stuff, but lately everything I’ve been working on is all one big project and it isn’t so much about remembering everything that needs to be done and who for, but the focus of my to do list is more about allocating a time to do it and keeping an overview perspective – for which this weekly planner is great)
  3. I can view and plan my week.
  4. It is easy to jot things down if people drop by with requests unexpectedly
  5. it includes 60 sheets (more than a years worth); and
  6. it brightens up the desk.

Obviously for me the attraction of this product is its simple organisation of my working life – but there are other paper mousepads which may suit your needs more – for example the surf notations one would work well for me at home.

Memory Books

A beautiful journal that I saw in Paper Source was Chronicle Book’s one line a day memory book which allows a sentence a day for 5 years and be started at any time. For UK readers check out Oh So Cherished. It is a beautiful blue colour, gold writing, gold edged paper yet small enough to fit in your bag. 5 Years, perfectly compact. My partner questioned why I would ever need one of these books (“you’ve got twitter”) and disapproved of such a purchase.

A similar purchase it the One Sketch a day for all you budding artists and creative types – Half a page for each day. Another temptation as I do wish to try and be more creative. In some ways I considered it a better option than the one line a day version because I write so much down anyway, but never draw post A-Level Art. But on reflection I knew I wouldn’t keep up the momentum, or have the inspiration to draw something everyday no matter how much I wanted to? Why? because my artistic skills never ventured outside of flowers, and still life.

Similarly another fantastic memory book is the Life Book – which covers 100 years. I first saw this in the gift section at Bloomsbury & Co a chunky book at nearly £30, but as an investment for a life time. After all you can’t beat the permanence of a well made book. There is a certain beauty and personalisation to it. Not to mention the feel of the paper.