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Ever since I was little, I used to love trying out different notebooks and different methods to take notes. Loose leaf, stitched, hard cover, or soft cover there are so many different types to choose from. This is a great thing because we all have different tastes. Sometimes those tastes change depending on the task at hand. Regardless of the style you choose, the only thing that matters is that it works for you. Here, I want to share what I look for in a notebook for work. I specify work because these are not ones I use for personal use. That may be a separate blog at a later date.
You will notice that the notebooks I choose for work are usually leather and are a darker color. They also may not be notebooks in the traditional sense but may be a system. You may also notice that I will not use any notebook for work if it has any sayings (other than my name) or any kind of image on the cover. I like to keep it pretty plain on the outside for work. That’s not to say that plain is boring. A notebook or note taking system with great paper combined with the ability to add-on accessories can be a way to personalize it. These subtle elements allow me to make it mine yet still allow me to feel comfortable bringing it to any meeting.
I have had this particular notebook/journal for about 4 years now. It is not the notebook I bring to meetings but it is a notebook that I use for work to jot down quick notes, brain dumps, phone messages, and when I just want to write down any work related honey do lists. I love this notebook because it has a good hand feel to it. By that, I mean it is buttery soft. The soft cover is not so soft that it is flimsy, but yet it is not so hard that it is rigid when you are carrying it. Weird but real hard covers are a total pet peeve of mine. Basically, it bends nicely when placed into my work bag. The size is perfect for travel. It measures approximately 8″ long x 6″ wide when closed. The paper is a creamy beige with college-ruled lines. They are not numbered. The notebook comes with an elastic to keep it closed and a single ribbon to mark your place. The paper is good quality with some minor shadowing from various inks. It is not enough to dissuade me from using or not recommending.
#2: Travelers Notebook
These are also known as TNs and they are becoming more and more mainstream. There are two main parts to the TN. There is the cover and then the inserts. The particular cover I have is from a company called Chic Sparrow. It is the Deluxe Chocolate Creme in the personal size. It has four elastics to hold four different inserts. This particular style of leather is just heaven in my palm. It’s soft and supple and becomes more and more so as I use it. It also smells amazing as any high quality leather should. With all of the types and styles of inserts available, these TNs can be customized many different ways. You can add monthly, weekly or daily calendars. Notebooks of dot-grid, lined, blank, or even graph paper. Paper weights and qualities of varying degrees. The options are endless.
The draw to a TN for me was my ability to have my work life and home life combined into one place. I have my daughter’s schedule in one insert, food shopping and meal planning in the second, work calendar in the third insert and then the last insert is the notebook I use in meetings. The drawback to this particular TN is the size. As my daughter and I are getting busier and busier and my eyesight is getting older, I am finding that this is not able to easily fit everything. I am quite verbose in my planning and the size limitation is something I cannot get around. The beauty of a TN is that I can replace the inserts and re-purpose the system into something else that will fit my needs. I just have to go shopping!
This particular notebook is famous for being the notebook of choice for those who Bullet Journal ( aka BUJO). I chose an A5 size and with a hard cover. The paper is high quality and, like the TN inserts, come in a variety of styles such as hard cover, soft cover, graph, dot-grid, lined, and blank papers. They all have an elastic closure and ribbons for placement markers. These particular pages are also numbered and come with a pre-printed index sheet so that you can be extremely organized. The whole concept of Bullet Journaling can be many, many blog posts long. There are even multiple websites, stores, and YouTube channels dedicated to this topic. For me, I just liked the notebook. The paper quality was terrific for my work notes and task lists. It was a perfect size to carry for meetings and it was available in black.
As a side note, I did attempt the Bullet Journal style of note taking and realized pretty quickly that it is not for me. I found it is too structured for my brain and that makes it difficult to capture all of the details I feel I need to capture when in a meeting. I was concentrating too much on using the correct formats and spacing that I was missing important information. So I ditched the structured BUJO note taking style and reverted quickly to using it as a notebook.
#4 Levenger Circa Leather Foldover Notebook – Letter Size
As you can see from the list so far, I prefer a lot of smaller sized notebooks. They are just generally easier to carry around in a purse or work bag. I do, however, realize sometimes we need to have a larger size available. So, with a few projects coming up, I really wanted to find something that could provide me with more paper real estate. Also I needed it to hold some additional papers that I need to reference. That’s when I stumbled upon the Levenger Circa Foldover Notebook. This particular one is a disc bound system so it provides endless possibilities as far as organization.
Circa is very much an upscale version of the Staples Arc disc system. Both of the concepts are the same. The difference for me is that Levenger has beautiful full grain leather options which you can have imprinted. The discs come in a variety of materials and sizes and are all very sturdy. These notebooks would make a really amazing gift for any executive or new grad. Additionally, the paper quality is smooth and creamy. The Circa system has a large variety of options including calendars, project planners, lists, and there are even special punches so you can add your own papers. This is exactly what I need for my larger projects.
One of the great things about notebooks and note taking systems is that there is such a variety available. Covers, colors, papers, and styles vary so that there is something for everyone and for every need. What works for me now, may not work for me in the future. Or it may work just fine but I want to try something new and that’s okay.
So tell me below what are some of your favorite notebooks or systems to use and why?
Please feel free to shop A Working Mom’s Guide by clicking here for items I am loving and for some additional savings not mentioned in this post.