At the turn of the calendar, I tried to find ways to spice up my notebook setup. I am on my current one for many years now and I want to improve my life further. The way to do that is to tweak the process of putting my mind into paper.
I took advantage of the hundreds of planner and notebook posts I see everywhere on the Internet. Everyone is sharing theirs and I had a peek at them all. Counterproductive, I know. I should be doing something else more purposeful than burdening myself with the layouts I may use on my journals. But spending a quarter of my life on social media is part of this journey. There is no use regretting those times that I refused to call “wasted’.
Even if I spent an eternity swooning over hundreds of ravishing setups, I find myself going back to my former one. At first, I tried to practice minimalism by reducing my notebooks into 2, one for planning and one for journaling/brainstorming. But my mind refuses to cooperate because it operates in categories.
It is overwhelmed when it knows it has all its needs in a single place. It doesn’t like to find out the chaos inside a single notebook. So it procrastinates more, never to return on what it created there.
That is why I continuously work in multiple journals. For some it is burdensome. For me, it is peace. When I look for a story or blog post draft I wrote, I could refer to my brain dump or if I want to immortalize a moment, I could just reach for my creative journal.
I shouldn’t wait for the perfect notebook (and moment) to write a wonderful thought. A little practice on that so I would lose fewer ideas. But my brain and hand protested as I trained them to work in categories. A creative dictatorship, I must say. Like I trained them in the military. Like a mom breathing into her child’s neck. I have to release my mind from the creative dictatorship that hindered me from fully unfolding the ravishing ideas that passed me.
See also: Online Stationery Shops you should check right now for your journaling fix
For now, I would remain in my multiple notebooks, a comfortable haven for me. I made tiny tweaks to accommodate my new needs but the spirit of past year’s journals remains.
To cut the overshared introduction, let me show you the notebook setup I crafted for the year 2023.
- Personal planner – All of my personal endeavors rolled into one breathtaking Muji A6 planner (a budol buy from my favorite Filipino journal enthusiast, Belle Mapa)
- Work planner and notebook – All of my work deadlines and tasks (a.k.a my lifeline) are in this Stradmore A5 monthly planner and notebook. They remain in the office because I live by “What’s in the office, stays in the office.” (or I try to). I also started to incorporate a Google Calendar with it.
- Brain Dump notebook – The universe of ideas that my mind produced is written on a cute Papemelroti A6 notebook – from article drafts to short story ideas and poem lines.
- Journal – The Belle De Jour A5 Essentials notebook is the haven where I put down my thoughts, reflect on everyday life, release some creative tension, and track my overall progress. What is the difference with the brain dump notebook? Brain Dump is creative fiction writing. My journal is real life.
- Wreck That Journal – A gift from my best friend who encourages me to go beyond the conventions of what I know of (even if she doesn’t tell me that). Trying to find ways to be more art liberated through this project.
Of course, my journal journey doesn’t end there because I possess notebooks that I use occasionally.
- Projects notebook – Born out of my chaotic mind from the house makeover last year. This one witnessed my ideas for room makeover and organization, budol finds, and expenses list among others. This would also house my other big projects in the future. It has the perfect thickness and size to bring with me when I have sudden thoughts on ongoing projects.
- Scratch notebook – It is the more chaotic sister of my brain dump notebook. I’d taken a backseat in writing in the past months and my brain is scattered that I find the brain dump a little too limiting and structured for me. I shifted to a random notebook and took random notes to it, never a goal in mind. Its only aim is to get me back to writing and it has done just that.
- Learning notebook – This year, I am doing my best to absorb knowledge better and be more aware of current news, especially that affects the local and global economy. That is why I came up with this journal, a repository of every lesson I encountered along the way.
That is quite a collection for this year, isn’t it? A disclaimer that I wouldn’t use all of these in one go. The planners and journals stay with me on most days. I would reach out for the rest when the need arises.
I also incorporate digital sheets for my lineup. Here is what I came up with:
- Google Calendar – This is where I schedule my loan availments request so everyone on my team can take a look at it.
- Google Sheet – This app has helped me big time in the past years in recording and tracking my financial state and I would continue using it this year.
- Google Keep – A digital bullet journal of some sort – a catch-all of the floating thoughts, to-do’s, and ideas that wouldn’t make it in the analog diaries.
It seems like a lot and it is. I have to give myself some credit for consistency. A quarter of the year had passed but it remained the same. Who knows, it might work out and I wouldn’t change for the entire of 2023. Or switch things up again in the middle of the year.
I will find out. That’s the beauty of creativity. You can change course when things didn’t go right. Let’s see how my notebook system unfolds this year.
P.S. – I realized I’d been documenting my journals every year. The contents change but one thing remain, my obsession with stationery. Find out about this (un)healthy love for all things papers and crafts.
- 2022 – Notebook Set-up 2022 + Affordable Alternative to Traveler’s Notebook
- 2021 – The Analog System for the New Normal: How My Notebooks Keep me Sane During the Pandemic
- 2020 – The Notebook System That Gets My Life Together