Organization – The Traveler’s Style Notebook


I’m still getting my bead mojo back after a long and stressful summer of upheaval at work, surgery, and other things.  Part of my struggle has been coming home from work, sitting down for “a few minutes”…and finding myself unable to convince my brain that there are other things that need doing.  I’ve realized some of this is due to the pure quantity of projects, chores, and obligations lodged in my brain – there’s just too much in there, and while I remember it all it seems to get so jumbled that it doesn’t stream back out in a logical “to-do” list.  It’s been most frustrating to know I have so much fun stuff that I need and want to do…but be unable to organize it in my brain enough to actually become motivated and productive.

Why is it that I have nothing to write down on a planner page, yet I have too much to remember to do?

 In my “few minutes” of sitting after work, I’ve spent a bit of time on Youtube watching the ball-joint doll vlog channels (yes, the doll obsession is still pervasive), I stumbled across this video (try the 2 minute mark) that sparked something in my brain.  One of my favorite doll people talked about and showed off her home made Midori Traveler’s style notebook…I thought to myself, “Didn’t I read a blog post about those when I got into adult coloring last year?”.  Turns out I was right – this guide to the system by JetPens reminded me of why I still had this info in some corner of my brain.  After revisiting that post and a bunch more Youtube videos (particular this one and this one), I decided that this approach to mental organization ticked some boxes that a more structured planner or full blank journal just doesn’t…and jumped into the deep end of Traveler’s style notebook creation.

A sign of mental disorganization?

I mentioned something to my fellow AJE’ers about my new fixation and Jen sent this post my way. It perfect explains the purpose of a planner or notebook as an accessory to your brain – you are essentially “externalizing your memory” – taking the pressure off of yourself to remember everything and what order it needs to be done in.  I’m not quite sure why this realization has come so late to me – my parents are long time FranklinCovey users, and tried to get me using their planners back in highschool.  I’ve tried other planners and less structured journal-type books through the years, but nothing has seemed to stick for me.  We all know it’s hard to maintain a new habit, but I feel like part of my issue is the overall structure of things I’ve tried in the past. 

Notebook inserts, necessities, and a home-made Midori Traveler’s Notebook style cover…sometimes it pays off to have leather lying around…

I’m a list maker for certain – scraps of paper, sticky notes, backs of opened bill envelopes are all fair game.   It doesn’t matter if the list is keeping track of groceries, things to pack, gifts I need to make, or dolls that need clothes…a list is my go to method of mental organization.  For appointments or other items that need doing on a certain day, I tend to take a few minutes to set up Google calendar reminders to send me an email in advance.  As far as keeping track of creative projects, I supplement my lists with thumbnail sketches of what I want to remember.  The problem is when I actually want to work on the list or project…how to locate the original thoughts in the jumble of loose paper scraps and partially used sketch books.  Regular planners have always seemed confining – monthly squares too small, weekly/monthly space too large, and where do I make a list or sketch that is not date specific?.  Blank books of paper present a different issue – too much freedom.  I feel like listing in a blank book is not a good use of the paper, so tend to treat them only as a place to sketch or write a full page blog post outline.  

More tools for insert making, decorating, and organization.

So here’s the appeal of a Traveler’s style notebook – I can buy single inserts that are blank or lined, grid or dots.  There are a myriad of structured inserts too – from typical planners to lines in columns for listing or bullet journaling.  With this, I can keep track of all my long term lists in one place, but also have a destination for temporary lists.  For example – I tend to stop at the grocery store/Target/Costco on the way home from work several days a week.  On those days, I make my list on a sticky note as I think of things during the work day.  Now I will be able to stick this list into my list insert (washi anyone?), and don’t have to worry about grabbing it at the end of the day (or loosing it in my car).  Along with the home for lists, I can have segregated blank inserts for beads/dolls/sewing/blogging and other creative endeavors.  I’m not going to get into decorating right now, but I will also not hide the fact I’m really excited to have a place to exhibit all of the small art and paper ephemera that I have accumulated.

Collage fodder, washi tape and gel pens for decorating…I *might* need more washi already…

All of this is very new to me.  I hope to start implementing my ideas over the next couple of days and weeks and post my progress for you next time. Do you have a method for keeping track of your daily and creative tasks?  How do you “externalize your memory”?  (Seriously, that is my new favorite phrase.)


Lindsay Star

Lindsay Starr is a beadwork and mixed media artist currently based in Nashville, TN. She spent her early childhood in Alaska, and her school age and college years in Oregon. Lindsay has a great appreciation for history, science, and nature and is consistently inspired by insects, sea life, color, and the significance of beads and beadwork throughout human history. She spends her days beading, walking at the zoo, and practicing yoga. Lindsay loves to share her knowledge and passion for beads and beadwork to hobbyists of all skill levels.
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