Review: The Basics Notebook

In an effort to become more organized in work and life, I contributed to a Kickstarter Campaign for the Basics Notebook. It reminded me a little bit of those Passion Planners that are picking up steam, but less “dreamy” and more “do-y,” in a sense. Even though I have my own goals, I felt the Basics Notebook was a better fit for me.

I should start this review with a disclaimer that I’m a paper-and-pen kind of girl. I don’t love to take notes on Google Docs or any other system, but yet I find myself needing the ease of a digital schedule. My to-do lists have most always been written down on paper (maybe because I enjoy the satisfaction of literally crossing something off the list), and I like to make realistic to-do lists for each day, instead of one long running notebook. So, with that in mind, here we go.

In its essence, the Basics Notebook is broken into a monthly and weekly view. The weekly view breaks each day into hours (to write your schedule), and gives room for 4 “daily priorities” with checkboxes. Each week also prompts 3 goals, broken down into 3 small tasks to complete that goal.

Let’s start with the monthly view. I chose to use this as a “big idea” scheduler, especially considering I run this blog (yay content planning) and also work with others in fitness motivation groups. I opted not to write down my daily schedule in the month view, aside from big things (vacations, conferences, days I have off of work, birthdays, etc). The monthly view also allows for 3 “daily goals,” with 3 checkboxes in each day, so that you can track that you’ve done those goals. I was so amped up for this when I got my notebook in the mail in 2015, but as 2016 started out, I had no idea what goals to write. Drink more water? What’s more? Read? Walk? I couldn’t think of much. And when I did think of goals, admittedly, I wasn’t trying to achieve them and wasn’t marking down my daily progress. Whoops.

So I wasn’t doing too great with the monthly view, so what? I knew the weekly view would get me to focus in a little more, with only 7 days to think about instead of 30. I worked hard the first two weeks to fill out my schedule (in pen…it was scary), and write down some priorities. The problem, though, came with the REST of my to-do list. Where would I put it? How would I pick 4 priorities each day to achieve? What if I had more than 4? It was a little crammed, but I tried to stick to it. I even tried to fill out the goals section, breaking it down into smaller tasks. But, I had more than 3 goals in a week, and some of those goals really didn’t need to be broken down into tasks. I ended up working a system of barely writing my schedule in during the week (that’s electronic, anyway), and instead using the hourly breakdown to write in what tasks I wanted to be done during the day. My overall to do list sits in the bottom “notes” section, and anything that isn’t done in that week gets transferred to the next. I also realized my weekly view was 90% work and 10% life, which could be why I am struggling to get this notebook to fit to my working style and attempts to complete tasks quickly. My goal for February, then, is to focus more on life instead of work, and find a new to-do system for work.

In all, I guess I’m not using the Basics Notebook quite as designed, but I’m adjusting. It’s already been a month with the notebook, which means I have 11 more to figure out how to work it!

And, a final question. How do you keep yourself organized? Do you combine work and life in one place? Separate? Digital or paper? I want to hear it!

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