Moleskine hacks - Photo by DeaPeaJayPhoto courtesy DeaPeaJay

In honor of Lifehack’s partnership with Moleskine, I’ve decided to post all Moleskine-related posts this week. Today, I’ll describe 10 cool ways to get a little more out of your Moleskine. While most of these hacks are aimed at the pocket-sized, hardbound Moleskine (what I think of as the “traditional” Moleskine), they can easily be adapted to the medium and large-sized notebooks as well.

So, without any further ado, here they are: 10 great Moleskine hacks!

1. Divide sections with tabs.

Perhaps the most useful product to complement your Moleskine – besides a fine pen, of course – is the Post-It divider tab. Usually sold in sets of three colors – often with funky patterns – these dividers can be used to create sections in your Moleskine, giving you easily-accessible spaces for several separate uses.

The very first thing I do when I get a new Moleskine is add some dividers. My standard Moleskine setup has three sections: “Tasks” up front, a small “Projects” section in the middle, and “Notes” for the last 1/2 to 1/2 of the pages. But you can divide your Moleskine up however you like – maybe you want a “Reference” section for often-used information, or a “Books” section to record books you’d like to check out next time you’re at the library or bookstore. These tabs are a great way to instantly customize your Moleskine to your exact needs.

2. Work back-to-front.

For people who use their Moleskine as an always-on-you “inbox” to capture whatever thoughts might cross your mind in the course of the day, with the intention of transferring them into a trusted system on return to your desk, try working from the back forwards. Use the bookmark to mark your current page, and use a Post-It tab or flag to mark the pages you’ve already processed into your system. The closer the bookmark and flag are, the more on-the-ball your system is!

3. Number the pages.

The first mark a lot of people make in their Moleskines is to number all the pages. This provides a couple of benefits. First, if you are reviewing something you wrote several days ago and think of something you want to add, you can add a “Cont’d on page xx” note and skip ahead to the next blank page. Second, you can index your Moleskine, recording page numbers and contents on the last few pages or on a card stuck in the back pocket. Third, it helps overcome “Blank Moleskine Syndrome”, that near-pathological reluctance to make the first mark on the crisp new pages of your brand new Moleskine.

4. Tab the pages.

If you’d rather not have tabs sticking out of your Moleskine, you can still create sections with a little patience and a steady hand. Use an X-Acto knife or other sharp, easily-controlled knife to carefully cut tabs, several pages at a time, along the outside edge of your Moleskine. Cut a template from card stock to guide you and help make your tabs consistent.

5. Carry Post-Its.

Are you getting the picture here? Dustin loves him some Post-Its! I use them all the time, so I never want to be without them. Moleskines offer two options for carrying a stash of sticky notes: first, you can tear off a few from the pad and stick them to the inside cover or blank end-papers; second, you can stick a bunch (in several sizes!) to an index card and stick it in the back pocket.

6. Use templates.

Blank Moleskines can get kind of messy, but it doesn’t have to be like that! Cut a Moleskine-sized piece of gridded index card (or graph paper for larger Moleskines) and stick it behind the page you’re working on – the lines will show through enough to act as a decent guide. But it gets better – with a little tweaking, you can easily print templates, such as the ones at D*I*Y Planner (or create your own using your word processor), to serve the same function, allowing you to have specialized pages for different purposes. Keep your templates in the back pocket when you’re not using them.

7. Add a pen.

You can, of course, clip a pen to the cover, but… eh. They come off way too easily, or they end up warping the cover. And what’s the point? Using a little duct tape or electrical tape you can easily add a pen holder to the spine. Simply place your favorite Moleskine pen against the back cover, cut a piece of tape wide enough to wrap around the pen and just onto both covers of your Moleskine (with electrical tape, you may need to attach several strips side-by-side), and place the tape sticky-side-out around your pen. Then place a full-width piece of duct tape – or several strips of electrical tape – sticky-side-in to hold your pen in place. The end result is a tape “sleeve” that your pen can easily slide into and out of. Make sure to make it long enough to hold your pen securely.

8. Label the spine.

Use a label-maker, or print out a tiny tag and tape it using clear packing tape. Depending on the use, you can label it with the start date, the function of the notebook, or the name of the project whose plans are inside. Be creative – lots of folks have come up with color-coded tags that look lovely when you’ve amassed a dozen or so full notebooks on the shelf above your desk.

9. Add checklists or reference info.

Print out sheets with information you’ll need over and over, cut it to fit your Moleskine’s pages, and tape it down with packing tape. You can attach it to the front cover or either (or both) of the blank endpapers, creating a set of references that will always be right where you need it.

10. Mount photos – or a business card.

Wouldn’t it be nice to open your Moleskine and have an inspirational photo of me (or, I suppose, a loved one) to cheer you on? Use photo mounting corners to add a small photo inside the front cover, or onto the front endpaper. Or you can mount a business card, in case it  gets lost – a lot neater than writing your address in the space provided.

Well, those are my ten favorite Moleskine hacks. What about you – what are your favorites? How do you get the most out of your Moleskines?

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