open notebook with color swatches in grey, baby pink, light forest green, orange yellow, and baby yellow

3 Ways To Use Blank Paper Notebook to Boost Productivity

There are many productivity-boosting apps available. But did you know that Notebooks can actually boost productivity better? Here's how...

There are quite literally hundreds or even thousands of productivity-boosting apps available online today. There seems to be no end to the digital wheel of productivity solutions from task management apps to virtual sticky notes.

Some of these bits of technology are particularly helpful for daily work tasks, especially when they can be cloud-synced to other devices. However, digital tech alone is not the sole solution to your productivity problem. Here's why:

  • Your productivity apps could be distracting you from the task at hand.
  • Instant access to the internet could be luring you into social media traps.
  • Apps only reveal your work; they cannot tell you how to approach it.

There is a time and place for digital productivity apps. But one thing is certain, being productive at work will require more than just some downloads from the Play Store.

This is what makes a simple paper notebook one of the best ways to improve your output at work, in meetings, and while working with a team. Not only do physical notes increase your focus, memory retention, and output, but they provide you with a distraction-free working environment. Best of all, paper notebooks are low-cost, very affordable, and available everywhere.

Here are three of the most poignant tips for boosting your career productivity through a paper notebook.

1. Build Note Taking Systems Into Your Notebook

A note-taking system, otherwise known as writing style, is a type of task management system that simplifies whole sentences or quotes into a series of digestible, palatable ideas.

We are all familiar with shorthand and 'keywords,' but many other types of note-taking systems could be used for workday situations. A few of the most impactful of these are:

Bullet Points

Like this list, bullet point journaling uses unique bullets (arrows, dots, lines, etc.) to condense important information. This information could include notes, tasks, events, holidays, or anything else that requires attention during the day.

Each point is made by quickly writing down necessary information. However, this is done without going into much detail. This ensures that the bullet points are coherent and meaningful without wasting too much time on extraneous things. Better yet, bullet point systems are easily customizable and are simple to keep in a single journal or notebook.

Learn more about Bullet Journaling HERE!

Auto Focus System

The Auto Focus system is quickly becoming one of the most popular task management systems in the world. The concept involves using both your head and heart and uncovers tasks that must be done while simultaneously allowing your feelings or emotions to determine the best course of action for you.

Like bullet point systems, quickly write down a list of everything that needs to be completed. This can be done using a blank notebook that’s ideally both unruled and unlined. Next, read over the list and absorb the different tasks that are written down.

Take the time to reread the list, this time searching for tasks or deadlines that jump out at you. The one that catches your eye is the one you should begin with. As you complete more tasks, you'll whittle down your pile of to-dos without too much strain.

The Strike-Through

This note-taking system is a cross between bullet points and Auto Focus flexibility. This practice involves making three separate lists: one for daily tasks, one for themed items, and one specifically for taking notes.

These sections divide your thoughts into distinctive categories and provide structure and organization as well as the flexibility to erase or change things over time. Once you have completed a task, draw a straight line through the text to close (but not cover) the task you have just completed. This is a great note-taking system for those who want to boost their work productivity without sacrificing too much time or additional effort.

No matter what system (or systems) you choose to use in your notebook, be sure that they provide you with a launchpad for success.

A notebook sitting on top of a table with wooden beads and a boho placemat

2. Embrace Notation Styles That Fit Your Lifestyle

Three fundamental theories of notation styles should accompany your chosen system. While many are associated with the Strike Through method, you can apply these concepts to any system or technique. Let's explore all of them below.

The Live List

Also known as your daily to-do list, the live list style of note-taking involves writing out your day-to-day tasks every time you plan to be productive. You should fill a fresh, blank page with a list of tasks first thing in the morning. Then it ought to be organized sensibly. Once an item from your live list is complete, you can cross it out and move onto the next one.

The Vault

You should store long-term goals and tasks in a vault-style list. Like a CD at the bank, items on your vault list should have a 'maturation date' that records a completion timeframe for all tasks and goals. These items may be crossed out at any time, but there must be a deadline that constrains them to a particular date.

The Dump

No, this style is not like a burning trash heap, although it certainly acts as a repository for many different things. Use your 'dump' pile to gather lists, ideas, bullets, drawings, and other doodles that come to you while taking notes. Later on, you can pass through the 'dump' and pull out any of the important nuggets of information, keywords, or lists that result from what was written.

Combining all these styles may boost your work productivity even further, but don't stretch too far. Your mileage may vary.

3. Design Your Paper Notebook To Do More

Simple paper notebooks are great ways to take notes, write bullets, and get started with your day, but what if you need a little extra to get you through? Simply adding a few modifications to your notebook can drastically improve your output and daily task completion rate:

  • Attach a piece of cardstock paper to the inside cover of your notebook using hot glue, tape, or staples. Voila, you've just made a helpful interior pocket!
  • Slip your blank notebook into a case that has built-in modifications. Get business card slots, pocket spaces, pencil holders, and more all from the same tool.
  • Cut a piece of paper in half, making sure it is still attached to the notebook binding. Instant dutch doors!

If you don't feel like modifying your blank notebook, that's okay too! Extras are just extras. No need to spend time on something you don't need!

Summing It Up

With the right mindset and a little bit of preparation, you can successfully use a simple paper notebook to boost your productivity levels all across your daily work schedule.

Adding bullet points, Auto Focus methodology or Strike Through journaling to your work not only condenses your thoughts but successfully guides your train of thought with keywords that direct your actions.

Unique notation styles such as live lists, vaults, and dumps are critical bits of infrastructure that drive your writing habits and result in better productivity over time. Finally, modifying your simple paper notebook into a repository for all your needs should be the final and most critical task of the note-taking journey.

When it comes to using a notebook for productivity at work, the first step will always begin by taking an initial step forward. Find a simple paper notebook you love to start increasing your work productivity today.

This post was written as a collaborative post. Collaborative articles are written by another party who may or may not wish to be anonymous. Further, all posts are edited and formatted by Elizabeth Ghekiere. Want to guest post for ElizabethJournals? Learn more here.

Back to blog
1 of 4