How I Use My Notebook

This morning, I spent 30 minutes looking for my notebook. After looking in the car, my coat pockets, the kitchen, the bedroom, the bathrooms and everywhere else, I found it in my office underneath my standing desk. My notebook is an important part of my productivity and I like to keep it at hand all the time.

Early last year, I did an experiment in bullet journaling. While it helped for awhile, I eventually gave it up and went back to digital tools for most things. I did not, however, give up my notebooks or journaling altogether, instead I adapted them to better meet my purposes.

Here is how I use my notebook:

1. Not for To Dos, Events or Appointments.

I never write To Do type information in my notebook. That’s not the place for that. As soon as I think “I’ve got to do such and such” it goes into the Things app on whatever device is closest at hand.

Similarly, events and appointments go into my calendar. That’s the place for that kind of thing – not a notebook.

The problem with a notebook is that I can’t schedule anything there. Not easily at least. I cannot easily move things from one bucket to another. My notebook cannot remind me when a deadline is coming up. Digital tools are much better for this so that is what I use.

2. Quick Ideas

Sometimes I’m thinking through something, whether it’s an article I want to write, a sermon illustration, some thoughts I have on a book I’m reading, someone’s name I want to remember, a prayer request, ideas for a new project at church, it could be anything really. I just draw a line in my notebook and write them down.

This one spread contains UX designs for a web development project, notes from Sunday School, and study notes on an upcoming sermon.

So on one page you may see notes about a PHP framework I’m learning, the names of new people attending our church, and a cut list for something I want to build in the workshop.

3. Study Notes

Whenever I’m studying for a sermon, I use my notebook for notes. It’s my collection place for scraps from commentaries and word study tools and the place where I work out my sermon outlines. As I study through the week, I rarely open a text editor on my computer to start typing my manuscript and instead just work in my notebook.

I’ll also use this notebook to take notes whenever I hear other people preaching.

4. Index

One thing I have carried over from Bullet Journaling is the practice of numbering every page and then indexing everything in the back of my notebook. This helps keep it all searchable.



I buy a brand of dot ruled notebooks from Amazon called Miliko. They run about $12 and one pack will last me a year (each notebook lasts about two months.)

Every time I start a book, I write my name on the front and the date I’m starting the book.


I’m partial to Staedler Triplus Fineliner pens. These aren’t cheap at about $1 apiece, but they are worth it to me.

If I don’t have any Staedler pens handy, I’ll use Sharpie pens instead, which are similar to the Triplus Fineliner in how they feel on the page, but tend to smudge a bit more than the Fineliners.

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