My favourite work notebooks

I’m fussy about my stationery but even I’m surprised at how specific I like my various items of work stationery to be! These are called campus notebooks by Typo and I pay R69,99 each or R100 for two (they have them on special a couple of times a year). They’re spiral-bound, a little wider than A5, have 4 sections (more on these sections later) and have lined paper.

They are my favourite notebooks which I use in the following way:

  1. I keep about 4 pages free in the beginning of the notebook for a few lists: lists of my clients, lists of new business I’m working on and any other lists I might need (sizes of meeting rooms are current favourites because I book enormous meeting rooms during these times, current work projects, and so on)
  2. I then make a daily eat the frog list, and my ta-da list and goals for the week at the end of each week. It’s my whole end-of-work week routine.
  3. I start each day with a daily list, make meeting notes and actions, both in preparation for the meetings I run and when I’m a participant. One day can use up anything from 3 – 8 pages, depending on the types of meetings.
  4. These notebooks used to last 6 months each but during these pandemic times where we work mostly from home and have far more meetings than ever before, they’re stretching to 3 months if I’m lucky. (I just checked my current notebook – I started it on 18 May and looks like I’ll start another one on 18 August).
  5. I completely ignore the partitions. I know some people like to use one section for clients, one for team meetings, one for something else and one for to-do lists. That’s not how my brain works – my brain works strictly in chronological order. E.g. “when was that client meeting? oh, 4 August.” I then flip to 4 August and find my notes. So I (horror of horrors) just cut out those partitions and I keep just one for a few post-it notes.

And now for the enormous disclaimer…

There is absolutely nothing special about this notebook or any other notebook.

The best notebook is the one that works for you!

Confession – you don’t even need a fancy notebook. An A5 exercise book that school kids use will do.

I would say you need a system to keep up with your work actions, a place to hold the thoughts in your mind, a place to plan the important and not urgent matters (quadrant B items) and a place to reflect back and refer to notes.

If you have that, great!

If not, perhaps try my system – who knows? It might just work for you too. If not, keep the bits that work and start tweaking the other parts.

Which is your favourite notebooks to use for work?

PS Whenever I post something like this, people always say, “why should you use pretty stationery for work?” To that I say, I spend 50+ hours a week on work; I definitely want to use that time and make my environment and tools ones that spark extreme joy for me 🙂

Do you have enough white space in your life?

I had an interview with a journalist on Monday and we had a fabulous chat about all things time management.

During the interview I touched on the concept of white space. She seemed to like that so we spoke about it quite a bit.

I feel it’s essential to have “white space” in our lives. For me, white space is room to breathe. Something that seems to be so lacking in many of our lives.

If you’re feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, check to see how much white space you have in the following three areas of your life.


Dullstroom Lake – April 2011



1. Travel/ commuting time

Leave a little bit of extra time when you need to get anywhere so that you’re not constantly rushing. Also, it helps to have some breathing room if you suddenly find you need to fill up with petrol (gas) or if there’s a traffic jam.

Stress is not fun so rather take some reading or work (if you must) with you to use up any time if you don’t like to “waste” time. Although my friend, Beth Dargis, has taught me to also just enjoy being and not doing all the time 🙂

2. Daily scheduling

Don’t schedule all your appointments back to back. Some of you are saying, “but Marcia, don’t you always talk about batching?” Yes, I do.

If you do some batching, give yourself a solid break after doing a couple of phone calls/ emails/ etc. E.g. If you’re on the phone from 9 – 12, leave some white space and start another type of activity after an hour or so. And so if you run over with the phone calls, you’re not stressed and anxious going into the next activity or group of tasks, feeling like you’re already behind.

3. Weekends

I know weekends are the time to catch up on things but please, leave some breathing time.

Don’t schedule something for morning, afternoon and evening. Even two activities a day feels like too much. We have a personal family boundary of only one social per weekend day, and preferably only one per weekend, although it somehow doesn’t feel like an extra social if we go somewhere directly from church 🙂

I am also guilty of having a to-do list of 20 items for the weekend which…. never gets all done. But I do schedule lots of down time to get things like reading, sorting out my house and weekly meal planning done.

Over to you.

Can you think of an area or two where you can build in some more white space?

If you need some help, book a Success Strategy Session with me.



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