I have a plethora of digital tools, but I still use a notebook for my day to day work.This is surprising because on the nerd scale, I rank pretty high, I’ll admit it. I tried to tango with an iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil for the day to day notebook, but constantly maintaining things being charged and saved in the right location led to some frustration, and ultimately back to the notebook I went. There’s so many great tools available as apps and hardware that can create ease of access, but at the end of the day it’s hard to argue with a good notebook.
Our whole studio agrees- everyone has their notebook filled with their own systems. We have PM software that tracks large tasks and schedules, but we all agree the analog system works best for mental sanity. A good analog notebook is the place to let both halves of your brain run free.
That being said, I have a designated place to let the fun side of my brain loose. I divide my notebook into two sections that eventually converge in the middle: The front of the book heading toward the back are all sketch pages, the back heading towards the middle are my notes.
The sketch pages are usually whatever pops into my head while I’m having coffee or I have a spare minute, I’ll usually time myself 5 or 10 minutes and let it rip. It can be really easy to loose track of time shading something (even with a crappy ballpoint) so having a time limit is a good practice.
Given that I’m doing a variety of things each day at work, from tasks to meetings to lectures, I’ve developed my own system based off of one I came across in the past (Bullet Journal). Every day gets a title on the top of each page. Old tasks that haven’t been completed get migrated to the new day so they don’t get lost if they weren’t completed the day before.
Checkboxes mark tasks- if they have a green X in them instead of being filled, they got moved to the next day. Once a task is complete, the box gets filled in.
Triangles mark events- meetings, brainstorms, you name it.
Everybody in the studio has their different methods of tracking tasks and taking notes, but at the end of the day having a system that works for you is the important part. Having a chronological record of completed tasks, events, and notes is an asset that’s hard to argue with, but having a place to draw and let loose is just as important for me.