Life Hacks for school organization

A little known hack from Japan to get your notebook organized  September 22, 2015 – 04:22 pm

writing down an idea in your notebookTools like Evernote make organizing and finding information really simple. Yet despite that, I still often find myself using the humble notebook to jot down valuable ideas, especially when I’m on the go.

However notebooks are hard to organize your ideas. You either split your notebook into several sections for each ‘category’ and end up wasting valuable pages in the quieter sections or you just write your ideas as they come along making them hard to find later on.

If this sounds familiar then you are going to love this little hack I was taught here in Japan by a friendly salariman. It’s a little messy, and not something I’d use all the time but for the right subject could come in handy. For lack of a better name I’ve decided to call it the Highfive notebook.

Introducing the Highfive notebook

The back of your notebook will act like a tag list or index. Every time you create a new entry at the front of the book you’re going to “tag” it.

create an index in your notebookFor example let’s imagine you’re keeping a notebook for recipes and you just wrote down a Chinese recipe on the first page.

Next you’d go to the last page and create the tag ‘Chinese’ by writing it on the first line right next to the papers left edge.

Now you’d go back to the first page where the recipe is and on the exact same line as the ‘Chinese’ label you just wrote you’d make a little mark on the right edge.

You’d make this mark so that even when the notepad was closed the mark would be visible. After repeating this for various recipes you’d now have various tags visible on the notebooks edge.

Now if you ever wanted to find a Chinese recipe you’d simply look at the index, locate the Chinese recipes label and look along the visible edge to find every single page which has been tagged as Chinese. Then it’s simply a case of flicking to each page.

tag your first entryAnd of course, you’re not limited to one tag per page. You could tag a page 2 or 3 times. So if you jot down a chicken stir fry you could tag it as “Chicken” and “Chinese”. Now you can find all recipes by their cuisine and ingredient.

Mind blown?

Then why not help spread the word by sharing this with your friends?

Getting started

Because flicking pages is important for the system to work you need a notebook which

  • is bound tight (glued, stapled, string bound) and not a spiral type
  • has 50 pages or more
  • is either lined, dotted or gridded to make lining up tabs easy

My favorite notebooks from good to best

Quite a few commenters below have asked what notebooks and pens I use and the correct answer is – it depends on the situation. But here are my favourites listed from good to best.

For less important stuff, stuff which is likely to get messy such as recipes, I love using the Muji lined notebooks which are shown in the pictures above. They are not built to endure rough treatment but for everyday use are great.

They are smooth to write on and hold ink well with only a little show through with my fountain pen. I buy them in packs of five so I always have a notebook to hand and for the price it’s hard to knock the value.

For more important things such as my journal or sketching I turn to either Moleskine or Leuchtturn notebooks.


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