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13 Things to Do with a Moleskine Notebook

13 Things to Do with a Moleskine Notebook
We here at Lifehack have been huge advocates of the Moleskine as a tool for ubiquitous capture — for jotting down ideas whenever and wherever they occur to you. They’re also great for keeping your task list and other information you might need over the course of the day. But those are hardly the only things a Moleskine is useful for!These days, Moleskines come in all sizes and colors, in a variety of specialized formats, and in both hard-covered and soft-covered versions. From the just-bigger-than-a-business-card extra-small Volants to the nearly letter-sized extra-large Cahiers, there are notebooks that can be adapted to just about every purpose.

Here are 15 ideas to help get you started. Feel free to share your own Moleskine ideas in the comments!

1. Blog log

I run several blogs aside from the work I do at Lifehack. Each of them has it’s own medium-sized Moleskine notebook (a soft-cover one — I don’tneed all the pages of the hard-cover notebooks for this) in which I record passwords, configuration information, and notes for future changes. When I’m brainstorming post ideas, they go into their relevant notebooks, along with any other miscellanea related to each site.

2. Expense log

Use a lined or grid-paper notebook to track expenses throughout the day. You can easily store receipts in the back pocket, and reconcile your notebook with your accounting software at the end of each week or month (epending on how extensive your expenses are).

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3. Computer log

The last log, I promise. Setting up a new computer is a pain in the rear-panel, so I like to keep everything together — passwords, registration codes, and especially the ever-elusive WEP/WPA keys for my wireless networks. I have one book, with tabbed sections at the back with the infromation about my family member’s computers and networks that I know, sooner or later, I’ll be called on to fix.

4. Replace your wallet

The Cahier pocket-sized notebooks have vinyl covers that are strong enough to take the abuse of your pocket — so why not eliminate your wallet and replace it with a wallet you can take notes in instead of stuffing with them? Stick your cards in the back-cover pocket, fold your cash into the front, and voila! Want something more secure? How about gluing powerful magnets onto the front and back covers for an instant money clip? (Note: magnets or credit cards, not magnets and credit cards — pick one or the other).

5. To-done list

Use a Moleskine as a daily list of tasks you’ve finished. As you finish something, add it to the book, along with how much time you spent and when you finished. This can be useful in a weekly review, if you’ve got so many tasks that you don’t always remember where you are in any given project, but it’s more useful as a kind of journal of accomplishments.

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6. Outboard brain

Use the Moleskine MSK Wizard to create reference pages full of useful information and paste them into your Moleskine. The site can produce formatted contact lists and schedules, or you can make free-form pages mixing-and-matching your own text and images.

7. Photo log

OK, this one really is the last log (I’m lying, it’s not). Use a small Cahier or Volant to record information about your shots — where you’re at, who’s in the shot, and so on. If you still use film, this is the place to record exposure information, as well as anything special about the gear or settings. Stick an 18% gray card in the back pocket, and glue in exposure tables and other information if you’re still learning.

8. Baby book/family album

The watercolor Moleskines have thick pages that are perfect for attaching photos and paper souveniirs like birth announcments (use photo corners to attach photos —  you may have to remove pages if you add too many).

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9. Family reference

Create a single volume with all your family’s important information in it, including: birthdays; medical information; addresses of doctors, dentists, and other service providers; favorite colors, foods, and otehr faves — especially for family you see infrequently; numbers of local take-out restaurants; school information; bank account, insurance, and auto VIN numbers; and so on. Leave out the passwords and social security numbers — if it ever got misplaced or stolen, you don’t want any information that could leave you vulenrable.

10. Reading journal

My high school English teacher suggested I write down at least a few lines about every book I read. I did not take his advice, and I regret it. So last year I started doing just that — I even whipped up a little template that I can put behind my current Moleskine page to guide what goes where. Although I don’t record everything in my Moleskine — I review books professionally, so a lot of my thoughts are recorded in my manuscript file instead — I am trying to make an effort to record a few thoughts and impressions about everything I read “non-professionally”. I wish I’d done this in grad school — I’d love to have a more organized version of my reading impressions than has survivied in my scattered grad school notes…

11. Conversation log.

OK, this time I mean it — no more log. (For real!) Use a Moleskine to take ntoes about all your professional conversations. I am just starting one for my source interviews for magazine articles — it occurred to me that I might better organize my interview notes in a single notebook with an index than they way I work now, filing looseleaf pages with each project’s files.

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12. Make a “mind atlas”

An atlas is a book of maps, so a “mind atlas” is a book of mindmaps. Moleskines are fun to write in and look good — two characteristics that make them especially suitable to creative work. If you like to write and draw — and chances are, if you find mindmapping useful, you do — using a dedicated Moleskine will make it that much more enjoyable, and that means you’ll do it that much more.

13. Job-hunting guide

Use a Moleskine — whatever size is comfortable — to record all the important information from your job hunt: info about each position you apply for (1 per page or two should be enough space), the date you applied, the date and a description of any phone calls, who you spoke with, what you wore to each interview (helpful if you get called in for a second or third meeting!), and notes from your interviews. A Moleskine looks nice and professional when you take it out in an interview, and you’ll look nice and professional when you can easily remember every detail of each prior meeting.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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