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My Favorite Notebooks for the Office

*This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see my Disclosure Page for more information.

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.

#1: Markings Soft Leatherette Journal by C.R. Gibson

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!


#3:  Leuchtturm 1917 Medium A5 Hardcover

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.

I am sharing my favorite notebooks to use in the office. This includes what to do with a leuchtturm notebook, discbound notebook, notebook ideas, travelers notebook ideas , notebook journal, notebook uses, Notebook creative and Notebook organizing I am sharing my favorite notebooks to use in the office. This includes what to do with a leuchtturm notebook, discbound notebook, notebook ideas, travelers notebook ideas , notebook journal, notebook uses, Notebook creative and Notebook organizing I am sharing my favorite notebooks to use in the office. This includes what to do with a leuchtturm notebook, discbound notebook, notebook ideas, travelers notebook ideas , notebook journal, notebook uses, Notebook creative and Notebook organizing I am sharing my favorite notebooks to use in the office. This includes what to do with a leuchtturm notebook, discbound notebook, notebook ideas, travelers notebook ideas , notebook journal, notebook uses, Notebook creative and Notebook organizing

#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.

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5 Tips to Manage Your Inbox

It happens to all of us and no matter how hard we try to stop it, they just keep coming.  You sit at your desk, intent on completing a certain number of tasks done before lunch.  But, then you notice the pop-ups on your screen.  As soon as you see them, you click on them.  FOMO?  Perhaps.  Instant gratification?  Who knows!  What you do know is that what you planned to accomplish before lunch, has not even been started.  Suddenly, you are going down the inbox rabbit hole.

Emails can derail the best laid plans.  I know that during the course of my day, I may get upwards of 100 emails a day.  Some people get more or less but regardless of the amount, you must be able to managed them so that they do not manage you.  In order to be successful during your work day, I want to share my top five tips for managing your inbox for success.

Tip #1

Create Rules

email email email inspiration email tips email marketing newsletter email marketing check your email email list unsubscribe emailNow, where I work and anywhere I have worked, I have always used Microsoft Outlook.  One of the great features about using Outlook is its ability to allow you to create rules.  These rules send  designated emails by Sender, Subject or Keyword directly into a specified folder.  This is truly important because many times in business, you may end up on many list serves.  Although these include important industry information, they are not crucial to your day to day.  Do not let these types of emails clog up your inbox.  Move them right along into a specified folder.  Then, when you want or need to reference that newsletter or publication, it is there waiting for you.

Tip #2

Create Folders

Yes- I know that you can search all of your folders for keywords but bear with me.  The main reason for these folders: see Tip #1.  These folders will allow you to create rules so that certain emails will bypass your inbox altogether.  This can be very helpful in maintaining control over your inbox.  Now, what I am not saying is go overboard with your folders.  You do not want to create a folder for every person that sends you an email.  That would be a waste of time and completely counterproductive.

Breaking these folders down to what makes sense to you will help you manage your inbox and also cut the time a search takes when looking for information.  The method I use for creating folders is based on my interaction with the person or business sending.  Anyone reporting to me is placed in one folder while anyone I report to is in another.  I create folders by project- large projects only.  Another folder is called ‘Publications’.  This is where I place any automated emails or newsletters.  Company generated reports are automated to go to ‘Reports’.  Original huh?  I also have a folder for years.  This corrals everything so that my searches are quicker.  I keep about 3 months of emails in my inbox because those usually include projects I am working on and it just makes it handy.

Tip #3

Use your out of office

That’s right.  Use it when you are on vacation but also use it even when you are not on vacation!  Having your email constantly up and active, leads to the rabbit hole I spoke about earlier.  Once email email email inspiration email tips email marketing newsletter email marketing check your email email list unsubscribe emailyou see the pop up, how many times do you immediately click on it?  This habit not only interrupts what you are currently working on but it also interrupts your train of thought, your work flow, and ultimately will lead to you being non productive.  So put an out of office on your email at regularly scheduled times every day.

A simple message like “Thank you for the email.  I am currently in the office working on a project.  I will be checking and addressing emails during the following times:_________.  If this is an emergency, I may be reached at the following extension:__________.”  This way, the person sending knows that you have received the email and you will be working on the request during the allocated times.  Therefore, they won’t expect an immediate answer.  Additionally, if there is an emergency, you are able to be reached.  You will find this practice allows you to concentrate on the tasks at hand without interruption.  Additionally, as people start to type an email to you and see your out of office, they may rethink the email.  This will help decrease the volume as people subconsciously set a higher bar for actually sending that email.

Tip #4

Unsubscribe

How to declutter your email inbox including email organization, inbox posts, inbox ideas, and inbox management How to declutter your email inbox including email organization, inbox posts, inbox ideas, and inbox management How to declutter your email inbox including email organization, inbox posts, inbox ideas, and inbox management How to declutter your email inbox including email organization, inbox posts, inbox ideas, and inbox management

Yes. Just go ahead and hit that button.  When we live in such an information rich society, it can easily happen that we get overwhelmed with too many electronic publications.  Every time we turn around there is another list serve that send us emails as frequent as every day.  Now, this is not to say unsubscribe from all newsletters or list serves.  However, be very cognizant of the value they bring to your daily operations.  Ask yourself a few key questions.

  1. Does this publication have up to date information relevant to the current field I am in?
    1. if the answer is no, rethink your subscription
  2. Does this publication add value to my current business by way of best practices or trends?
    1. if the answer is no because the information is dated and not validated practice, rethink your subscription
  3. Is this publication filled with sales flyers and/or sponsored by one particular company?
    1. if this answer is yes and it is just a way for that company to tout more of their products only, rethink your subscription

Ultimately, you have to be able to discern the value that these types of emails bring to your day to day career.  Once you isolate the subscriptions you want to keep, create that folder from tip #2.  Once that folder is created, send your subscription emails there so that your inbox does not get cluttered.  Here, the information will remain accessible to you.

Tip #5

Dump the zero inbox unicorn

Yep.  Mic drop.  I know this does go against a lot of people’s advice.  I will admit when this advice came out, I tried it.  I really did.  However, (insert voice of French narrator from SpongeBob)  2 hours later, after clicking, reading, moving, answering, and stressing, I managed to get through about 20 emails.  Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration but seriously I didn’t get far and I lost 2 hours of my life chasing that unicorn.  That’s when I decided to just create folders, unsubscribe and use the other tips I am writing about.  The stress of a zero inbox is immense.  Nobody talks about that part.  I mean when I wake up in the morning, there are times I already have 15 emails.  That does not set me up for a successful start to the day.  Ditch that unicorn and save yourself some stress.

 

There are so many ways to manage your inbox and these are just a few that I employ on a regular basis to help me.  These help me stay on track so that I am more productive and can balance my work day better.  If you use Outlook, I hope you give these a try.  What are some of your tricks in regards to emails?  Share them in the comments below..

 

 


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Work Style: The Sheath Dress

One thing I love about Spring is being able to bring out my favorite pieces that are lighter in color or have a beautiful floral print.  During the Winter months, I tend to keep many of my wardrobe colors on the darker side like blues, blacks and browns.  By the end of winter, its more like a “wardrab” instead of wardrobe!  However, when Spring finally arrives, it is a welcome change to be able to shift my work style from dark and dreary to pops of color.  The transition can be tricky because as Winter releases its icy grip and Spring takes hold, temps can fluctuate significantly.  However, to help you keep up with these fluctuations and be able to bring in some Spring style, the sheath dress is a great wardrobe piece to have in your closet.

Why the sheath dress?

Well, it has been around for many, many years.  As a matter of fact, it is noted in Egyptian times as it can be seen in many of their art pieces.  This is a classic that truly has stood the test of time.  Why has it been around for centuries?  Its’ versatility.  Whether its the print, ruching, color, or how it is accessorized, one can get many different looks starting with a sheath dress.  It can take a professional from the office to a night out on the town seamlessly.  For the office, one can pair with a cardigan or short jacket and some great wedges or flats.  For an elegant night-look, put on a pair of heels, remove the cardigan and add a phenomenal statement necklace.  Versatility!

I pulled some great examples currently available at Nordstrom.  Note that this is an affiliate link and you can read my full disclosure here.  I pulled many different price ranges, styles, and fabrics to show just how versatile this piece can be in your wardrobe.

What can I add to the look for the office?

 One of the best pairings for a sheath dress is a cardigan.  Like the dress, there are so many styles to choose from.  You can choose a long and flowy cardigan that gives off a casual vibe and then you can choose a more fitted or formal piece.  Either way, you cannot go wrong!  This turns a beautiful sheath dress into the perfect daytime look for the office.  The cardigan will also keep you warm in an office environment.  We all know how tricky office temperatures can be.  With this look, you can maintain comfort.
 
 Even though where I live I am expecting snow tomorrow (in mid-April), I have already broken mine out a few times.  I was able to shed some of the dreariness of Winter wools and dive wholeheartedly into a few floral and lighter colors.  Due to the current weather here, Spring is a state of mind and it is helping me get by!  If you do not currently own a sheath dress, give it a try!

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Quick, Low-Carb One-Pot Meal

One of the best things about coming home from work is having a plan in place for dinner.  This is extremely important to help maintain your sense of balance between work and home life.  In addition to this, having a simple, tasty, one-pot meal ready to go is an added bonus!  This meal is very quick to throw together and it includes healthy vegetables like cauliflower and kale.  The shrimp adds protein and sweetness to the dish while I spice it up with some crushed red pepper.  This is a great low-carb dish that will leave you satisfied and full without any of the regret.  It uses only one pot and is super quick on the stove top where it only takes about 20 minutes.

Low carb diet recipes including low carb ideas, meals, dinner and food.

Here’s what you will need for this Shrimp and Veggie saute:

  • 1 Package of frozen 26/30 shrimp thawed with tails removed
    • I use this size because they are hearty yet reasonably priced at my store
    • I remove the tails prior to cooking because it makes it easier when it comes time to eat
  • 2-3 green onions
    • diced
  • 2 vine ripened tomatoes
    • seeds removed and diced
  • 1 10 oz frozen package of riced cauliflower
    • you can use any brand with or without additional flavorings
    • the one I used had some additional garlic flavoring
  • 1 frozen 10 oz package of chopped kale
  • 3 Tbsp of butter
  • 2 tsp of garlic oil
  • 2 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp of Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes- more if you like it hot
  • 1/4 tsp of black pepper
  • a healthy pinch of pink Himalayan salt to taste

Directions

Into a dutch oven on medium heat, melt the butter then add garlic oil, red pepper, black pepper, Italian spices, and salt.  I use my Lodge enameled dutch oven.  This is used so much that I do not even remove it from my stove top!  Once the butter is completely melted and the spices have had time to ‘mingle’, add the frozen packages of kale and riced cauliflower.  Cover the pot and turn the heat down to medium/low for about 10 minutes.  This will give the veggies time to thaw and cook.  Remove the lid and add the shrimp, diced tomatoes, and scallions.  Stir and add a healthy pinch of salt to taste.  You can put the lid back on for a few more minutes to get everything heated through.

The great thing about this meal is that it is super quick and easy to clean up.  Additionally, for those not on a low carb diet, it can be served with warm rolls or ready made, microwavable, seasoned rice.  It is very versatile and you can scale this dish up to accommodate the number of people in your family.  As written, this serves four in my family.  I hope you enjoy!



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All For Not?

Did you ever wake up and think to yourself: When I leave my child to go to work, do the lessons I try to teach them and show them get through?  I often think about this very subject during many early mornings.  I know that my older son is certainly on the right track but I was home a lot more with him as he was growing up.  My daughter is much younger and has seen me work away from the home through out most of her life.  This includes long hours, plentiful work trips, and an MBA to boot.  She is growing up in a completely different generation from her brother.  She actually makes him feel old!

Life Goals

Realistically, we all know that time is limited with all things- even people.  It is a precious commodity that once is gone, you cannot get back.  Sometimes, before getting out of bed, I lie there hoping that I have instilled important life lessons to both of my kids.  Especially my youngest who is still in her formative years.   The other week, I had a business trip and I didn’t see her for almost 24 hours.  Come to think of it, I didn’t even have time to talk to her.  It was a few days later when I was contemplating work and family that I come across proof that somehow, in some way she hears me.  My daughter is listening- even when she looks like she’s tuned me out.

I found her Boogie Board that she occasionally uses for notes and drawing when paper is not convenient or easily found.   These are great on trips or in the car.  It is essentially an electric piece of paper that erases with the touch of a button.  What I read on that that board, honestly makes it all worth it and reinforces the path I am on.  Ella had divided the board into two categories:  Weekly Goals and Key.

Ella’s Weekly Goals:

  • Eat Healthy
  • Exercise More
  • Make Better Decisions

Ella’s Key:

  • Be Happy
  • Be Responsible
  • Be Kind

Inspire

What else is there to write?  She sums it up nicely.  Not only does she share how to become a better person, but also what it takes to get there.  This little late night writing means the world to me.  As working Moms, sometimes we are our own worst enemy when it comes to wondering if we are doing the right thing by our kids.  Think about it.  Every morning we bring our kids to school or to daycare and we entrust them to others for over eight hours a day! By the time we Moms get home, its supper and bedtime.  Have we done enough to instill anything of ourselves into our kids?

Heck Yes!!

It is time that we start deleting these negative comments in our head.  Kids are sponges in the way they absorb everything around them.  They see the way we handle ourselves through various situations, how we treat people we interact with, and they benefit from this exposure.  They also benefit from those they are around while we are at work.  Whether, they are at school, daycare or with a trusted family member or friend.  The saying is true: it does take a village- the right village.  I am so glad that my daughter is exposed to different people and experiences.  She understands compassion and empathy, fortitude, gratitude, and possesses an openness to new experiences, people, and adventures.

The next time thoughts come into your head about working and not being there every minute with your children, delete it.  Do not give those thoughts credence.  Instead concentrate on all of the great opportunities your are exposing to your children.  Yes, time goes by quickly so we have to make the most of what we have with them and trust that our children gain so much from us- even when we are not looking.

Now go ahead and do as Ella says and “Be Happy”.

 

 


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