Why is a blank notebook the perfect diary?

Is your weekly planner inefficient and you run out of space in busy days while others are blank? Is your desk cluttered with post-its with endless to-do lists everywhere? Is that calendar in your kitchen enough to remember things but it is not with you when you remember something to be added? Is that to-do app perfect until your smartphone runs out of battery?

All that organization systems may be good, but they all have weaknesses. Why? They are inflexible and incomplete to keep track of everything you might need.

The perfect solution for me is simple: a small notebook. Small enough to fit in all your handbags. Something that can be with you everywhere. And above all: blank. Nothing offers you greater freedom and inspires you more than a blank paper.

This choice for me is not only a matter of productivity, but also a matter of inspiration. Taking a notebook with you can give a beautiful pair of wings to your imagination when that unexpected flow of inspiration hits you: write a blog entry, a fairy tale to tell to your children before bed, write poetry, short stories, draw, plan a DIY project that just came to your mind…

But inspiration and productivity can work side by side if you can brainstorm ideas for a new project at the right moment: when inspiration flows and your brain is working faster and better than ever. Brainstorms, to-do lists, taking notes, planning social events or holidays, setting weekly, monthly or yearly goals (and having them always visible!). One of the sweetest things of using a notebook as diary is being able to read again all you wrote under highly motivated and inspired moods. Reading it again can act as a rain dance, calling new inspiration, and refreshing your motivation to achieve your goals.

“O.K. Very inspiring, but I don’t see the scheduling thing here.” Now the plan is to take five-ten minutes in Sunday afternoon to help a couple of pages of your notebook become a diary. That weekly routine will take you less than five minutes and, besides, it will help you to see the upcoming week at a glance. Write the important things that will happen throughout the week, especially on Monday. Leave more space than usual if one day is going to be busy, add a motivating quote or some weekly goal or a to-do list if you want. You may even want to add the most important tasks or events in a to-do app with reminders (my beloved assistant here is Wunderlist). This little effort has a big reward: the priceless sensation that the upcoming week is under control.

One sweet idea is the habit of leaving the left page blank. This allows you to write to-do lists or quick notes during the week, solve an unexpected lack of space, or something I love: sticking mini-photos of special days or nice moments with my friends and family that happened that week. When the year and the notebook are over, you can always keep the notebook as a sweet and tiny reminder of all the great things that happened throughout the year.

To end with, which features should this notebook diary have to be perfect?

  • Small enough to fit easily in all your handbags
  • Have a pen holder (the comfort of having your favorite pen always near is priceless).
  • Have a bookmark ribbon to easily find the current week.
  • Have a pocket to put papers in it (you can DIY it easily).

Last but not least, you must love the cover image (or DIY it, too!). Loving this notebook is loving the way you plan your life and, consequently, your life. I hope that, if you have the chance to try this organization system, it works for you too, both in productivity and inspiration, and you get to love it as much as I do.

Oh! I almost forgot. This is Cristina, 23, PhD student from Barcelona concerned about healthy living and environment, productivity and time economy (despite a little addiction to Pinterest), keeping everything organized, but who also loves to cook, garden, craft, sew, DIY, go trekking and many other activities for which she barely has enough time.

I hope this small project of mine can rise as beautifully as the sun rose this morning in this small corner of the world. See you around!

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