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ORGANIZED: My Notebook

High Straightenence by Tracy Benjamin

A weekly column celebrating the neat freak in all of us.

I love notebooks. I always have and I am pretty sure I always will. The problem I find with notebooks is that I don’t always finish them. There’s something that makes me lose steam and jump ship. Am I alone here? Maybe it’s just that I love a clean slate and starting over? Maybe I get bored easily? Maybe I would finish writing in an entire notebook if it was ORGANIZED. We shall see about that.

It all started with a fancy Moleskine I bought at the beginning of the summer. It’s designed for projects. I’m a project person!

There were a few stickers in the notebook to help section of the pages. BRILLIANT.

I also used washi tape to make the sides of my indexed sections more prominent.

I started to take this idea a little bit further and I came up with a system of how I wanted to organize my notebook.

If you look up at the top, you’ll notice that I created an index for myself.





This would be my food section. I created a header page on the index.

Once again…washi!

This is the section where I write down recipes to make. It makes me feel good to have a map of my kitchen endeavors.

You can also see that the Moleskine has a bookmark. I appreciate that in a book.

One of the most used sections is my TO-DO Lists.

I make lists here. I’ll add post-its of things I’ve written down when I don’t have my book with me.

I keep a few post-its in the back of the book so I can make a list on the go- or remind myself of something.

All of my TO-DO lists start with a date, and when something is done, I cross it off. BAM.

This is what the notebook looks like on the side. I can easily get to the sections I need to access.

Oh! I also like to keep a print-out of my Google Calendar in my notebook so I can jot down stuff.

Time seems to pass by quickly and since I’m a visual person, it’s important for me to have a visual of what’s going on.

This is also how I plan my posts on my website. I wish I could be a person that is a 100% computer user, but there’s just something about a paper calendar that gets me every time. It just makes sense to me.

So there you have it. I’m about 3 months in and still carry this notebook around & write in it daily.


Tracy Benjamin

Tracy Benjamin is obsessed with good food, great photography, and pretty things.


  • Kelsey October 10, 2012 at 6:11 am

    I really like this! I love having notebooks and frequently don’t finish them. My question, what happens when you fill up one section, like the To-Do section but you haven’t filled up the Food section? Do you start a new notebook? This is what I always fear keeping multiple subjects in one notebook.

  • Mama Rachael October 10, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Love this idea. I might just do it….

  • puresweet October 10, 2012 at 8:46 am

    This is such a great idea. I need this in my life! My head gets so full and cluttered with things I need to do, want to do/make, etc. Writing it down always helps :)

  • Winter October 10, 2012 at 11:16 am

    I love notebooks too and I kind of hoard them and I kind of never finish them either! So I am so glad you this post. Gives me a better idea of how to organize my life…and gives me an excuse to buy washi tape.

    Do you keep more than one month print out of the calendar in your notebook?

  • Darci October 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I do this with my school years as a teacher…I have a notebook that I take to meetings, collaborations and parent conferences….but I have not done the whole tabbing idea. Sigh. now something to work on.

  • penandpeplum October 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    This is such a great idea! And such a fantastic visual way to compartmentalise a notebook. I’ve been a bit slow to jump on the washi tape wagon but this post has inspired me to jump on in. Thanks Tracy!

  • Catherine- cranberryprayer October 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Tracy, you have the right idea with paper! When you make a paper list of to do things, you have to keep re-writing things you didn’t get done on the new list. Eventually you might end up doing a chore you avoided simply because you are tired of writing it down. Another thing is that no computer cliches can screw you up. My parents have given me airport pick up times that were wrong before because my dad’s iPhone had become calibrated to a new time zone and the calendar changed. Another thing you should know is that scientific studies on behavior have discovered that writing clarifies thought. This is not true of typing but writing. Sorry I don’t have the study to give you but now you know why some of what you already this is true does in fact work well. :)

  • The Cake Philosopher October 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I love this idea so much! I am stealing it, making myself something similar (immediately as im bored at work) and then im going to tweet you a picture!!!
    Your posts brighten my dull evenings at work so thank you – I think its because we think alike.
    Thanks for the inspiration as always x

  • Kate @ Eat, Recycle, Repeat October 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I need a paper calendar too. I just love to write it down! I love the organization of your notebook – I need to start indexing.

  • Cindy Ensley Rahe October 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I have multiple notebooks and I’m also a total ship-jumper. I just love a fresh book! I love the lettering/headers, I do that too :)

  • Jane M October 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    I heart this post! I love your handwriting. I love the tape. I love your LISTS! I think you have inspired me to start my own book! (I have cool handwriting too :) !). Just an all around terrific post that is soooo do-able!!!!

  • Mel@TheDizzyMom October 10, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    This is PERFECT! I already have this huge binder that is the command center for my home management. The addition of something I could actually carry with me would be awesome. I like to doodle, too, so this would be fun!

    I prefer the paper and pen method to notes and calendar. I feel like it’s more accessible somehow. I also think it’s more unique and fun!

  • Elizabeth T October 10, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Thank you so much for your example, Tracy!
    I have several notebooks in addition to apps on my iPod Touch just because I’ve been trying to figure out a system that will work for me. I also believe that the best system for organization is one that is open to change, and since washi tape is easily removable from most surfaces, I’ll have to try that!

  • Lou October 10, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    great post! i need some of that washi tape in my life.

  • mrsjmejones October 11, 2012 at 4:13 am

    Love this idea! So much!!!

  • Stephanie October 11, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    This is totally and completely awesome! I too have a habit of ditching unfinished notebooks for a new (clean) one — but I love all of these ideas, especially crossing things out AND dating them. That must give you such a sense of accomplishment and finalize things. I also believe in the power of writing things down. Thanks so much for the inspiration, Tracy!

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  • Kelley October 12, 2012 at 1:51 am

    You gave me some good ideas. My notebook is a mess, but not for much longer!

  • flicts October 12, 2012 at 4:11 am

    Funny… i’d finished a paper calendar just 5 minutes ago and then i read this… I choose to have several and smaller notebooks. Since i have the same problem you used to- never finish them-, i decided i should buy thiner ones so i would get so easily bored. Because i’m travelling for a few months, i have the chance to buy cool and kinda different notebooks. So, i use a few: one for addresses, phone numbers and important dates, another as a travel journal where i stick tickets, notes, … and one for planning – dates, train numbers, schedules, etc… It has worked out for me, but i might use your idea just to test it :) Thanks forthe good read, as always.

  • Elena October 12, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Tracy THANK YOU SO MUCH!! I love how your brain works! Your tips are always so realistic and cool looking!! I love paper and all kind of stationarish things too. You remind me of my best friend, because she’s very creative, organized, and also has an awesome sense of esthetics!

  • Elena October 12, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Tracy, may I suggest a topic for your High Straightenence posts? I’m embarrassed to say that I’m very messy about doing my kitchen-laundry, you know, kitchen towels, napkins, table cloths,and so on. Part of the “problem” is that the fabrics are of different colors, some are white, others may bleed dye and would stain everything else.. and I don’t like accumulating that laundry for too long because i think that’s not hygienic, but i also don;t want to turn the washing machine on for just a couple of things, because that’ll be too wasteful. Excuse my poor redaction, my english is very rusty, but I hope you get the idea, and i really hope you can help me through this domestic ordeal! Thanks!

  • Leslie October 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Where do you get your washi tape?

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  • Stefanie Grace October 23, 2012 at 4:45 am

    I’m in love with this! I’m off notebook shopping! :)

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  • Katy @ Lolly Linens December 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    How cool is this!! Thank you so much for sharing. I use a notebook too, just started a new one a few days ago – - now I can organize it!

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  • Emma January 22, 2013 at 8:30 am

    I looked for the tape at Target and couldn’t find it!!! What section was it in?! Love this idea.

  • Veronica June 24, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Oh MY GOODNESS!!! I think we might be the same person. I feel the exact same way about everything you posted!!!! I currently have 3 notebooks and a calendar because I can’t seem to commit to one. :) LOVE IT!!!