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What’s the difference between the Everything Notebook and the Commonplace Book?

"Everything Notebook Kit"I suspect everyone on this planet has had similar ideas to others, and come to the exact conclusion and concept independently. This is the case of similar approaches to my Everything Notebook concept. Someone asked if what I did was a “Commonplace Book”. When they asked, I had no idea what a commonplace book was, so lo-and-behold, I went internet-sleuthing and found several excellently-written pieces on Commonplace Books.

The photo to the right shows the key elements of my own version of the Everything Notebook, they are what I call “an Everything Notebook Starter Kit”, all sourced with Mexican companies. My Everything Notebook starter kit includes the following components:

  • A rigid cover notebook (200-300 pages)
  • A set of adhesive plastic tabs (1″ size)
  • A set of multiple-colours fineliners (0.4 mm)
  • A set of multiple-colours highlighters

I think that the key element that there are two key element that differentiate the way I devised the Everything Notebook and how most Commonplace Books may be developed.

1) My Everything Notebook ALSO has a To-Do List section.

Most pieces I’ve read on Commonplace Books indicate that they’re places where writers and artists (and others, including scholars!) dump all their ideas. That notion is exactly the same underlying my concept of the Everything Notebook. I started an Everything Notebook in grade school because I was tired of having different notebooks for various subjects. Instead, I went with using only one. However, because I was raised using a “Homework Journal” where my parents had to sign my To-Do List of homework tasks, I decided to integrate this idea into my Everything Notebook concept.

2) My Everything Notebook has an inherent searchability function thanks to the plastic rigid tabs.

I have a different post coming up on the importance of record-keeping and considering notes as records (as archivists, librarians, historians and information science specialists do), but I wanted to note how I implement Searchability in an analog object such as the Everything Notebook.

As I note here, in the Everything Notebook I assign a certain number of pages to each sectionm and I divide them using adhesive rigid plastic tabs. The larger ones (1 inch long) I use for larger items (e.g. projects or ideas, or To Do List sections), whereas the smaller ones I use to indicate “weeks of the year”

My understanding from Commonplace Books is that they are literally ideas’ dumps and therefore searchability becomes hard to obtain. However, as some of the authors whom I have linked in this post indicate, creating an index and a table of contents really does help, and this can be done both in the Everything Notebook, and the Commonplace Book.

In the end I believe these ideas always travel and we all have our own versions of the Bullet Journal, the Everything Notebook or the Commonplace Book. What becomes more important is ensuring that we adapt, adopt and implement a system that works for US.

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  1. Catherine Franz says

    What do you do then if the notebook is only partially used and you run out of space for a particular project and that assigned area?

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