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Levenger and using a Proper Notebook

On the use of a Proper Notebook

Current GTD System
I have used a good deal of the notebooks out there, from the expensive Moleskine, the mid range Field Notes, to the cheapie 29 cent flip notebooks you can pick up in the stationery department at the drug store. While they were all fun and perfectly usable, the major problem I had with them was the lack of ability to refile my notes.

During the day, I found that I was taking notes regarding several different parts of my life. Errands for the day, grocery lists, and status reports for big projects were all crammed in pages that were difficult to index. Sure, they were in perfect chronological order, but it became a mess when I wanted to look at my notes for some interesting tidbit from a few weeks ago. I found I was digging through old grocery lists and honey do lists which were really no longer even valid or worth keeping.

What I needed was a way to quickly take detailed notes, then easily (and cleanly) refile them into their respective projects.

Enter Levenger

A few months ago, I discovered the Levenger Circa system. It is hard to describe exactly how the Levenger Circa system works, so it might be a better idea to watch the video at the end of this post. The idea is that as you take notes, you can non destructively file them in different places in your notebook, or in another notebook altogether. You can also fold the note book back on itself, and the book lays flat. There is no weird hump on the spine, so you can write with it easily on your lap.

I ended up picking up the Simply Irresistible Sampling Kit first. This pack comes with everything (and more) to start your first notebook, plus a $40 gift certificate for more Levenger goodies. Since then, I have purchased the Circa Starter Kit (to act as an archive for finished projects), and with my gift certificate, I picked up the levenger punch.

My Circa Notebook Usage

My sampler kit came with a whole bunch of things I probably wouldn't have otherwise deemed necessary. I have found that some of those things are the most essential.

  • The Pocket Insert - I carry around lots of little papers with me. Receipts, deposits, checks, etc. When I have things to carry, I stash them in the pocket.
  • 3x5 Dock-It - I still use the Hipster PDA as my main inbox for GTD. I also find that there are times when I need a quick note somewhere in front of my face daily. I keep the dock it on the first page so I can refer to it as needed.
  • Circa Pocket Dividers - I also gather alot of full sized papers. I have the desk version of the punch, so I keep my full sized documents in the pocket until I have time to file them.

I have mentioned the punch a few times, so I should probably clarify. The punch allows you to take any old sheet of paper, and punch the holes in it that allow you to put it into your book. At first, I was unsure of such a thing, as it's pricey ($70). Applying my gift certificate eased the burn, and I am so glad that I did it.

So, using the above, here's how I tackle the plethora of work I face daily:

When I am brainstorming a project, or taking notes in a meeting, I go nuts. I Think out loud on my paper. When the session is over, I integrate everything into my GTD system (org-mode, more on this later), then file my notes in a section of my book dedicated to the project. This section contains not only my notes, but all the printouts and handouts from everyone else on the project.

When a project is done, I simply pull that section out of my book, and insert it into another book that I keep as an archive.

Levenger is kinda pricey, what did I gain?

Yes, this system is not cheap. To spend higher end dollars on paper and some pieces of plastic, I better get something substantial out of this. Sure, the paper is gorgeous and heavy. The plastic bits are well designed and manufactured. But in the end, you are spending about $100 to get into a note taking system.

What I found was, I was refraining from taking good notes on my projects because in my head, I knew that my current note taking/filing methods were a giant pain. I would either have to file through my notes to index them, or mess with clunky, inefficient and non elegant methods to keep up to date. When I finally set up a system that was none of the above, I felt freer to take notes and get things done. Yes, I know that the this is very touchy feely and psychological, but in the end, the only thing you have to rely on is your brain. There is no shame in understanding your own brain and thinking process. There is no shame in tricking it into being more productive. Isn't that why we are entrepreneurs, executives, and CEO's? We have the drive and understanding to make the best use of our tools.

And now, for the video:

Posted by Sergio T. Ruiz at 30 December 2010, 11:45 am with tags Levenger, Notebook, productivity, Notetaking, notes link
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