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10 Great Moleskine Hacks

10 Great Moleskine Hacks

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

Reference

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