Using a Notebook in 2018? You’re Not Crazy.

Why I use notebooks as my main tool for creation and how to find a note taking workflow that works for you.

Having worked at Microsoft (which literally has its own note taking app called OneNote) and being friends with complete tech nerds, you might ask yourself: Why is Ana still using a notebook? “Haven’t you heard of Evernote? Simplenote? Trello?”. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely see the appeal with these apps. In fact, I’ve used some myself. For example, I use Trello to keep track of content I want to include in my Sunday Newsletter.

Nevertheless, there’s something to be said about the number of successful entrepreneurs and creators who use/used notebooks as their bibles: Richard Branson, Tim Ferris, Marilyn Monroe, Frida Kahlo.

I added this photo because it looked nice, sometimes I’m superficial like that.

The only rules of note taking

First, make it simple, organized and make it work for you. 
Second, notebooks are supposed to be useful above pretty.

Sometimes you might listen to a world-recognized designer mentioning he loves Evernote, how easy it is for him because everything is synchronized. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right tool for you. Experiment a lot and eventually, you’ll find a workflow that works for you

Speaking about workflow, let me give you a brief overview of mine just so you understand where the notebook fits and thus better understand why it is fundamental for me.

My Note Taking Workflow

Generally, every project or piece of content I make starts with me dumping a few early thoughts on my notebook or phone (ideas can come anytime, even at parties or toilets). Then, I might go online and try to further explore some of the things I initially wrote. After that step, knowing what I know from personal experience and what I saw online, I try to isolate myself with my notebook to come up with a more organized draft of what I want to do. If I’m writing a blog post, consequently I transcribe those phrases/graphs/etc. to my laptop, moving on to gradually finishing the post.

I believe I create some of my best work while using a notebook in my balcony.

Analysing this workflow, there is clear moment when the notebook shines: Let’s call it “The Moment of Isolation”. Coming up with great solutions, plans, article drafts, wireframes, requires deep moments of focus. Nowadays, with social media, notification-this, notification-that, it has become really hard to work on something for a long period of time, maintaining attention while achieving maximum productivity. In addition, due to the amount of information we have access to (thanks, Google), it can be petrifying, tempting you to keep on researching and never ever finishing anything. When I leave technology behind and I’m left with my thoughts, pen, and paper, that’s when the magic happens.

RECAP: What’s So Cool About Notebooks

  1. They allow you to detach from technology and improve focus;
  2. You can draw literally anything without restrictions;
  3. They never run out of battery;
  4. There are psychological benefits to writing with ink and paper. Didn’t know? Check this out.

What Notebook Should I Use Then?

I guess it depends on what you’ll be using it for, the purpose! Is it planning? Daily journaling? Some notebooks come with drawn bullet points, calendars, goal setting sections and many more. Moleskine has a traditional approach. There are some new kids on the block like Passion Planner or Full Focus Plannerwith a different approach. If you prefer colourful decorations, Flying Tiger Copenhagen (commonly known simply as Tiger) has cute cheap notebooks. In my case, because I see my notebooks as a tool for creation, versatility is really important, therefore I own simple notebooks with completely blank pages. Many of them as just free merch!

The Verdict

Let’s see, notebooks look darn good on a shelf or any kind of furniture really, so why debate this? Am I right? Or am I right? 🎁 It’s the perfect Christmas gift for someone whose head is bursting with ideas or looking to get their life together! I know who wouldn’t mind getting one 😉


Do you use notebooks or digital notes? What has your experience been like?

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