Ever get overwhelmed with the information you digest every day? Find yourself forgetting things constantly? Looking for a way to capture meetings, messages, action items, ideas or plans for the future? You need a Moleskine.
As much as I love my MacBook Pro, iPad and iPhone, one of my favorite tools is an “analog” one – a Moleskine notebook. I’ve been using Moleskines for over 10 years. They’ve helped me write sermons and blogs, plan out my week, capture notes from a great conference, orchestrate large projects and sort through feelings and emotions.
I’ve been using Moleskines for 10 years. These little notebooks have helped me write sermons and blogs, plan out my weeks, capture notes from a great conference, orchestrate large projects and sort through feelings and emotions. I’m a raving Moleskine fan.
After 10 years, I’ve learned a lot about how to make my Moleskine work for me. As I recently finished filling a Moleskine (after 8 crazy months of life), I thought I would share what I’ve learned as I break in a new one.
10 Tips for Setting Up Your New Moleskine
These are ten of the lessons I’ve learned from 10 years of experience, along with some intentional research.
1. Buy the right notebook for the task.
There are various sizes and types of Moleskines. You can choose from 3 sizes – (Pocket, Large and Sketchbooks), various types of paper (ruled, squared, or blank) and binding (hardcover, softcover, or cahier). I’ve used all 3 sizes, types of paper, and every binding for various projects. My current Moleskine of choice is the Large Ruled Hardcover. If you’re hosting an event, I recommend buying a Cahier for each attendee, slapping a sticker on the front (you design your own at Sticker Mule). This small item will cost you less than $5 and be very popular with your attendees.
Ask yourself some questions before you purchase your next Moleskine. What will I be using this notebook for PRIMARILY? How rough will I be on it? Do I write or draw large or small?
2. Choose the right pen.
“Hi, my name is Scott Savage and I am a pen snob.” I love GREAT PENS! I’ve tried far too many pens to count. My favorite is the Pilot G-2 0.7mm black. There are a few Uniball pens I like, along with some Sharpie pens too. But I always come back to the Pilot G-2. You want to make sure your pen writes smoothly, without bleeding or smearing. (If you’re going to use a thick marker-like pen, I would recommend a Moleskine Sketchbook because it has the thickest pages.)
3. Figure out pen storage.
With some smaller pens, you can use the pocket in the back of your journal. For a long time, many Moleskine users came up with some fairly elaborate pen storage techniques. Just Google “Moleskine pen hacks” for the pictures. Thankfully, though, you can now order a Quiver. I have been the proud owner of a Quiver for a few years and I love it! The Double-Pen Quiver sits on the front of my notebook. I keep a Pilot G-2 in there, along with a Sharpie marker in case I want a bolder look.
4. Label the front page.
You can either use the area printed in the front to provide your name and contact information, in case your notebook is lost. Personally, I tape a business card on the front page. You can offer a reward depending on the value of the contents. I also write the start and end dates at the top right of the front page. This aids in my review process.
5. Number your pages.
I go back to old notebooks to mine information. I’m often searching for notes from a meeting, a journal entry from a particular season in life or a line I heard in a sermon. But without page numbers, it’s very difficult to find what I need. Starting at the beginning of my notebook, I only number the odd pages. I write the page number in the top right of the page and then draw a diagonal line under it from the top of the page to the outside edge of the page. (see photo above.)
6. Create an index.
Traditionally, I’ve had my index at the front of my notebook, but on my newest Moleskine, I’m experimenting with it at the back. I allocate 5 pages for my index. I create 3 column headers – Title, Date, Page number. (see image above for an example) This format makes it easy to scan the notebook’s contentss as I’m looking for a specific entry. These two tips – numbering pages and creating an index – will be lifesavers for you. If you think you will ever need the information from your current notebook, tips 5 and 6 will be priceless for you.
7. Stock your pocket.
In the back of Moleskines, there is a “hidden” pocket. Everyone stocks theirs differently. I include extra business cards, 3×5 note cards, and Post-It tabs. I know some people put a $10 or $20 bill in there, in case they forget their wallet.
8. Find some inspiration.
Two of the main things I use my Moleskine for are taking notes in meetings and taking notes during talks/messages/sermons. I’ve found inspiration about how to take meeting notes better from Michael Hyatt. Mike Rhode is an ambassador for Sketchnotes (he wrote a book by that same name) and he has helped me reimagine how I engage a presenter, regardless of context. Look for ways to make using your Moleskine more fun!
9. Keep aids handy.
I regularly use my Moleskine to plan blogs or sermons. So, this great writing/presenting guide that was specially designed to be taped inside a Moleskine cover. I also found a helpful blog template from Michael Hyatt that I transferred to the second page of my new Moleskine. Other Moleskine users tape a calendar inside their notebook.
10. Consider storage and access.
Moleskine entered a partnership with Evernote that enables Evernote users to take pictures of their Moleskine pages and store them in Evernote. I’ve used an Evernote Smart Moleskine, which includes a free 3-month subscription to Evernote Premium. They’re great!
The small dot grids on each page make it easier to take photos of your notes using Evernote, allowing Evernote to scan and index your pages for future reference.
When you take photos of your notes using your Evernote app, you can access your saved Moleskine pages via your Evernote app on your mobile device or personal computer. I also have a shelf in my office where I keep all of my completed Moleskines.
Have Fun with Your Moleskine!
However you choose to process information, I hope you enjoy the process. It is a privilege to be alive at this moment in history!
The simplicity and beauty of the Moleskine, along with the joy I’ve had in filling thousands of pages, makes creating more fun for me! I was sad to finish my last Moleskine recently. Every time I hold a fresh, unmarked Moleskine notebook, I’m expectant and filled with possibility.
I’d love to hear from you. How do you set up your Moleskine? What tool(s) do you use to process information and brainstorm?