Intro: I moved back to using a notebook daily for my tasks and events. But I also use a digital todo list to capture long-term items and a digital calendar because it’s always available and easier to add/search events. I wanted to take some time to document my process in case it’s helpful to others. Also, it helps me catalog how I work so I can review periodically to look for efficiencies. Feel free to comment or ask questions, I’ll do my best to reply!
I’ll detail the actual components I use in this post. Follow-up parts will go through each component in more detail.
Note: this is part one of a four part series. Part two is available here. Parts three and four coming soon.
- Part 1 – Intro
- Components of My System
- My Specific Components
- Digital Task List
- Digital Calendar
- Part 2 – Physical
- Part 3 – Digital
- Part 4 – Functionality
1.1 Components of My System
For my system, you need the following three components:
- Notebook and pen(s)
- used for various lists, notes, and daily, weekly, and monthly spreads
- Digital task list
- used as a “master task list” for everything
- Digital calendar
- used to hold appointments, meetings, events, and routine tasks
Below I detail which components I use, but parts 2, 3, and 4 will hopefully illustrate that almost any notebook, any digital task list, and any digital calendar will work.
1.2 My Specific Components
The notebook I am currently using is a Baron Fig Confidant in dot grid. I really enjoy this notebook despite coming from a Leuchtturm1917 A5 (also dot grid). The Leuchtturm has a back pocket and an elastic strap that I thought I would miss. However, I rarely used the back pocket and found an elastic strap with a built-in pen holder that makes it more convenient to keep everything together. The Leuchtturm also has two bookmarks, but I only use one anyway.
Unfortunately the Baron Fig doesn’t come with numbered pages. So my initial setup can take a bit since I have to number them manually. The only reason you would need to do this is if you plan to have an Index page like I do (to track where a month starts and if there are any other lists or miscellaneous pages). Otherwise, I have the bookmark and some removable tabs that I use to track which pages are being used in the notebook.
There are several things I do love about the Confidant. It’s slightly smaller than a traditional A5. The paper holds up really well to ballpoint pens, fountain pens, and markers. The notebook folds flat (after an initial break-in). And it’s durable enough to hold up to everyday carry (EDC) use for the roughly two to three months it takes me to fill one.
Other components to my notebook are an elastic pen loop and small Post-it tabs. I bought both on Amazon and there’s nothing special about either of them. Just about any different colored tabs will do. I could make do without the pen loop, but it holds my notebook closed, gives me a place to tuck things under (like my Kindle), and it makes my most used pens easier to get to … so I keep it.
Note: if you want to buy something from Baron Fig, please use this referral link. You get $10 free credit, and so do I!
I use a variety of pens. Partly because it makes it easier to find things, partly because it looks better than all one color (IMHO), and partly because I’m a pen nerd.
For journaling, I currently use a Purple TWSBI Eco (Medium nib) with Diamine Shimmering Mystique ink. I purchased the TWSBI (pronounced twiz-bee) in April 2020 and bought the ink because I’d always wanted to try a shimmering one. It’s been a lot of fun having journal pages really stand out from my other task pages.
My other daily writers, for tasks, are also TWSBI fountain pens, but they’re Diamond 580 AL pens, one with a Fine nib, the other with a Medium nib. I also use two Hi-Tec-C Coleto multi-pens with four different colors in each. A black Coleto with black, green, purple, and yellow inserts. And a red Coleto with red, orange, blue, and (unused) silver inserts. I’ll go into more detail why I use so many colors in part 2 when I talk about my notebook.
The only other pen I use regularly is a purple Zebra Midliner for accents, highlighting, etc. I don’t use it much, but it has a place in my pen pouch.
Oh yeah, my pen pouch is Sun-Star Delde standing pen pouch. Large enough to hold all the pens, my glasses, some index cards, and my tabs. But small enough to carry easily.
1.2.3 Digital Task List
My digital task list of choice is Todoist. I’ve tried many different tools, but have repeatedly come back to Todoist because it just fits my workflow best. It’s simple, looks good, and has just enough bells and whistles for me. I pay for the premium plan partly to support the developers, but also because I utilize their labels and filters features for my workflow. However, I could make do with the regular plan if I was willing to do a little more manual work during my weekly reviews (more on that later).
As you step through my system you’ll see that although I use Todoist, any digital task list that lets you have different lists, assign priority, and have due dates should work.
Note: that Todoist link is a referral link … if you sign up for Todoist Premium using that link, I get two months free.
Another note: you might be able to get three months premium free using the code Todoist2020 at https://todoist.com/redeem
1.2.4 Digital Calendar
My digital calendar of choice is Google Calendar. My family has been using GMail and Google Calendar for collaboration for years. It has all the features I want, it’s easy to use, looks great, and it’s free. But any digital calendar should work for this system. All you need is a place to put appointments and events … nothing fancy!
Part 1 Conclusion
That was a whole lot of upfront filler, so thanks for sticking with me. Parts 2 and 3 will get into the meat of how each component is set up and part 4 will finally layout how it all works together as well as a step-through of my daily, weekly, and monthly processes.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.