As a perfectionist, I often struggle to start things — from articles to school assignments — because of the fear of my work not being good enough. However, my perfectionist tendencies aren’t limited to just productivity-related scenarios; for instance, they also come into play when I try to use a new notebook. There are so many things I could do with the notebook that I end up getting overwhelmed and not making a choice at all for the fear of not making the “right” choice. One thing that often helps in these situations is having fewer choices. So, to help you out, we at the Clog have whittled down the different ways of using your notebook to five. Here’s our arbitrary power ranking of these options (we’re saving the best for the end)!
5. Taking notes
This may not be the most exciting use of your empty notebook, but it sure is the most practical one. Maybe you’re taking classes at college or working through an online course. Either way, a notebook is a great learning tool, especially as there is evidence that you learn better when you take notes by hand rather than by typing (I’ve never been a fan of taking notes by hand, but maybe you could put this theory to the test). You could also set a personal challenge to take hyper-organized, colorful, aesthetic notes using fancy stationery such as pastel highlighters, washi tape and glitter pens. Who knows, maybe it’ll make you more enthusiastic about studying for exams. It’ll definitely help you build a following on Pinterest.
4. Doing something creative
Whether you’re into writing, music, painting, calligraphy or any other art form, a notebook is valuable to any artistic person. You can use it as a creative outlet and a space to hone your craft — a sandbox where you can experiment without the fear of being judged. Not only can you express your own creativity in the notebook, you could also collect work you find inspiring, be it song lyrics or memorable quotes from novels. I used to write short stories in my notebooks but eventually resorted to Google Docs as my hand kept getting cramped, hence the low ranking.
3. Bullet journaling
Bullet journaling is a popular organizational system developed by Ryder Caroll. It’s like a one-stop solution for everything you need to organize your life, from to-do lists to habit trackers. You can design your bullet journal however you want or follow one of the millions of tutorials on YouTube. The following are some of the elements of your typical bullet journal: to-do lists (which can be broken down into yearly, monthly, weekly and daily to-do lists), trackers (such as habit, sleep, food, finance and mood trackers) and a journal (where you can write down important memories, things you are grateful for and so on). Although I personally found it easier to use digital tools than maintain a bullet journal, you can give this technique a try if you’re looking for a highly customizable way to organize your life.
2. Journaling your thoughts
This is one of the most obvious uses of a notebook but also one of the most effective. Journaling, especially journaling in a physical notebook, is often extolled for its mental health benefits such as reducing your stress and anxiety and helping you make better decisions. Personally, I try to journal before I go to bed as it helps me sleep better. Putting all your anxieties and mental to-do lists on paper helps you clear your mind before you go to bed, making it easier to fall asleep. If you need some journaling inspiration check out these prompts and reasons to get into journaling.
1. Making it a collectible
If you are struggling to decide what to do with your pristine notebook, you could give up on finding the perfect use for it. Let it stay in mint condition, and make it a collectible! Maintaining a collection of something you like is very satisfying, and maybe it will even give you a big financial payoff someday when screens have sent paper into complete obsolescence. However, if you want to see your notebook fulfill its incredible potential and live up to its great promise of being filled with, well, anything, this option isn’t for you.
Keep in mind that you can always change what you use your notebook for: Maybe it started out as a class notebook but is now a journal for your thoughts. We hope this list helped you decide what’s best for your notebook.