It’s been an excellent few months for me, because I have been able to share more of my “tricks and tools of the trade” with people who read my blog, and readers seem to like how my workflow processes help them with their own. As always, I don’t provide “advice”. I simply share my experiences in hopes they will help other academics who are at similar stages of my life, or my own students (or other professors’ students!).
An 'everything notebook' works for me. It's worth a try! https://t.co/C79l7w5FYt
— J Burisek (@DocJLB) August 25, 2016
One idea that came to me recently is that, while folks seem excited with the concept of the Everything Notebook (to keep track of their To-Do lists, research notes, ideas, etc.) I don’t think I wrote what I believe are the key elements of how the Everything Notebook works from the start up. In my view, the two things that make my Everything Notebook work for me are the durable plastic tabs and the use of colour (in my case, Sharpie 0.4mm fine markers, and multiple colour highlighters).
This is what I bring everywhere (not pictured here: my Everything Notebook) pic.twitter.com/XRNS0BQE2x
— Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) August 5, 2016
The key to the Everything Notebook’s simplicity is that you don’t need to create an Index (as opposed to the Bullet Journal). I do try to save some pages for Research, a few for Students, space for To Do lists, and a few pages for Administrative Tasks. But I don’t fret if one thing runs over another, or if I end up having to move the plastic tabs from one page to another. The beauty of using plastic durable tabs is that they’re mobile. You don’t depend on specific dividers and therefore, you can vary how many pages you use for each section.
This is my "Everything" Notebook. Each component (meetings, notes from seminars, fieldwork notes) has plastic marker pic.twitter.com/9uSejXeRJh
— Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) July 1, 2016
The other element that I think is important is flexibility of notes’ location. Because I label each page or set of pages with a cue to the specific content that is in that page, I don’t necessarily need to write all my To Do lists in a specific location. All I do, particularly if I run out of space, is tag the page with the proper cue so that I can know what exactly is filed where.
At the Mexican water law national meetings – for those wondering, yes, at meetings I do use my Everything Notebook. pic.twitter.com/RByi0RZrTj
— Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) August 4, 2016
As shown above, I bring my Everything Notebook everywhere. Even if I’m working online (writing notes, or editing papers), I keep an analog medium to jot down ideas and/or To-Do items. I’m also glad other people have taken up the concept!
— Brit Paris (@brit_paris) July 7, 2016
The important thing for me is that the Everything Notebook gives me the flexibility of not having to be strict about content, or location of said content. I can have a To Do list, followed by a few notes from a scholarly seminar, followed by ideas about a research project, followed by notes from my lectures or scribbles related to a new research paper. Because I use the plastic tabs to organize the notebook, I always know exactly what is located where.
Sometimes people don't believe me when I say I actually only use one, Everything Notebook. Here is proof. pic.twitter.com/8M2d43I56W
— Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) August 24, 2016
And more importantly, I use the Everything Notebook everyday. I carry it everywhere. My students, colleagues, other academics, participants in meetings, people whom I’ve interviewed during fieldwork, everyone has seen the Everything Notebook, and so far everybody has understood what I use it for.
There are obviously a couple of caveats, though. The first one is obvious, some people are colour-blind and therefore using colour will not help them. The advantage of using plastic tabs (and you can even use traditional adhesive mini-notes) is that you don’t depend on a colour-code. You can simply turn your Everything Notebook around and read what the tab says.
The second caveat is obviously that you need to carry the Everything Notebook around. I do, and it’s the first thing that I usually bring with me. Except when I don’t, and then my life is completely screwed up. That’s why it’s important to have the meetings synchronized with Google Calendar (because my iCal is synchronized to my Google Calendar, so I may forget what I’m meant to be doing, but I don’t miss where I am supposed to be or which meeting I should be attending).
The third caveat is that you may run out of space. If so, and it’s happened to me before, you can start a new Everything Notebook. Just keep the previous one handy in case you need to confer. I have my two most recent Everything Notebooks at my office at the ready just in case I need to confer about specific datasets, ideas, fieldwork, etc.