Productivity Hack Of The Week: Keep A More Organized Notebook

Nothing trumps good, old-fashioned pen and paper when it comes to taking effective notes. Except maybe this trick.

Productivity Hack Of The Week: Keep A More Organized Notebook
[Photo: Flickr user Kamilla Oliveira]

Taking notes during meetings and throughout the day is a great way to stay organized and focused. Some of the most powerful people even do it to stay ahead of the competition, and it’s been said that note-taking separates the experts from the novices.


But if we were to follow this advice, our notebooks would surely be bursting with a jumble of important lessons. The task of referring back to these notes could quickly become too daunting to even venture a try.

Rather than sifting through page upon page of notes to find what you are looking for, this week’s hack creates a system for quickly finding exactly what you are looking for. It takes a little forethought, but the payoff will be worth it.

This hack, adapted from Adam Akhtar’s blog post for business proposal software company Highfive, requires you to tag your notes with common themes. Begin by writing a list in the back of your notebook of all the themes you encounter while taking notes. For me that means things like writing, editing, social media, CMS issues, and so on.

Next, whenever you takes notes make a mark on the edge of your notebook in line with where the relevant tag is in the back of the notebook. So if you took notes during a meeting that involved discussions on writing, social media, and CMS issues, you would mark the edges of that page in line with where your writing, social media, and CMS tags are in the back index.

Now whenever you’re looking for notes relevant to social media, you can quickly find the pages you tagged as such.

Tip: Don’t want to doodle all over the edges of your notebook? You could always assign a different color to each tag and stick a color-coordinated Post-it tab to the relevant pages.


[h/t: Highfive blog]

To help you work smarter instead of harder, we’re hitting you with a productivity hack each Friday. Check out our hacks here.

About the author

Rachel Gillett is a former editorial assistant for’s Leadership section. Her work has been featured on,, and elsewhere.