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How to manage your Moleskine, GTD and the other things

Updated on August 6, 2011

The Ultimate Guide to managing your Moleskine (or other notebooks and journals)

Pretty long title, isn't it? By reading this lens, you will learn everything it is to know about Moleskine, and you will also learn how to manage your moleskine notebook, or any other notebook (and even normal books). We're going to make your moleskine (or any other notebook) user-friendly. Aren't you excited? You should be!

Moleskines are being used all over the world, for mind-mapping, recording ideas, business management, scetching, travel journal, or (as in my case) for collecting knowledge required for paranormal investigations - that's what I use them for. I also use moleskines to manage personal library.

The Moleskine brand offers a range of high-quality, expertly-bound books in a smooth fake leather cover dubbed "Moleskine."The Italian brand was purchased in 2006 for 60 million Euros by Frenchgiant Societe Generale. The notebooks are a wonderful example ofunderstated features and attention to detail combining to createsomething rather special. Rounded corners, an elastic strap, a hiddenpocket at the back, and a bound-in fabric bookmark all add to theexperience.

Do I need a real Moleskine?

Nope ;). First of all, Moleskine is just a name - sure, original Moleskine notebooks are just awesome (I mean it), they have their own soul :). But if you're not able to get real Moleskine (I do have this problem living in Poland, only two on-line stores are selling these, or at least they have Moleskines in their store offer, but nonotebook is ever available), you can apply all of the following hacks and tips to any other notebook of choice, it's not a problem.

Types of Moleskines

Remember, you don't need real Moleskine to have a great personal notebook! It's just, as someone said some time ago, Moleskine provides you with a unique user experience. If you believe writing should be a real pleasure, you need a Moleskine ;).

Honestly, I think if you don't have a plain moleskine, you don't have a moleskine at all, but that's just my personal believe ;). Plain notebooks (either in classic size or pocket size, even plain reporter version) are giving you a wide flexibility, you can write everything and draw everything without worries that lines squares will break the composition.


Important element of global navigation

When you're exploring your notebook, and you often want to refer from one page to another, the first thing you should to is to make your navigation easier. And first element of navigation is paging your... pages :).

Each page should have its number written down, either on the top outer or bottom outer corner of the page. Notice that page numbers should be located always on the outer side of the page. This is required for quick navigation between pages. It's hard to make process of flipping pages fast if you have to open each of them totally ;).

Also, stick with single scheme in all your notebooks - this means, if you're placing page number in the top outer corner of the page, use this method in all your notebooks, as it will make things easier and more clean. You won't get lost among hundreds of your journals and moleskines this way. OK, but numbering pages is only one basic element of managing yourmoleskine.

"The Quadrant Grid"

We will now divide each double-page of our moleskine into 4 quadrants: A, B, C and D (or, if you feel "Trekkie": Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta). Take a look at the image above for a reference. It's fairly simple, isn't it? Stick exactly to this grid in each and every of your notebooks (and even books and other papers too, because quadrants greed is everywhere the same). This little hack will be used just in a moment for the nav hack.

The "Nav" hack

Now that we have our pages numbered, and the grid system implemented, we can learn how to use it. Allow me to introduce you to your new friends:

>23D - this is the nav coordinator. It will help you manage your navigation within entire notebook. Let's take a closer look at each element:

> - bullet means "go there".
23 - this is the number of specific page within your notebook
D - and this is the quadrant in which you will find what you're looking for.

It's very simple to use. Let's say you're writing in your journal about the flower you forgot when to water. You know you have instructions for this task in one of other entries, because it's not the first time you forgot this ;). You're flipping pages backward, and here it is (yay, you saved the flower!). To make things easier in the future, you can write down in your entry nav coordinator to find these instructions later easily. Let's say these instructions are located in the top right corner of the left page number 17. So you're placing simple >17A, which means "go to page 17 and look at quadrant A" :). Simple, isn't it?

It's not all!

If you want, you can extend this nav coordinator :). Put square brackets after quadrant letter. In these brackets, you can write a name of a book or othernotebook you're using (maybe some older moleskines from your archive?). You will now know that "something" on page 23, quadrant D, in "I Ching" by Robert Wilhelm.

>23D[I Ching, Robert Wilhelm]

Et voila! Thanks to this method, you can easily refer to other informations within your notebook, and even outsourced books and magazines.

The "Margin" & The "Classes" Hacks

If you're using your Moleskine not as a classic personal journal, but as more professional notebook, and you're collecting in it many terms, contact data and informations about places, events etc., you should think seriously about the "Margin" hack. It will make navigation even easier.

This hack is very, very simple. All you have to do is to leave some space (about 1,5cm - 2cm) on the outer edge of each page. This will be your margin, on which you will be writing additional informations and references , and finally, you will be placing classes. Hey, what the heck? What is a class?

In CSS (web programming language), you're using classes in order to identify specific elements on websites, and give them specific attributes (styling). InMoleskine, we will use classes in order to identify different types of content you might want to place in your notebook. Here are some classes I'm personally using in my notebooks:

{Terms} - terms and general terminology, like in a dictionary;
{Story} - a story, backstory etc.
{Experience} - personal experiences
{Events} - events, simple
{Places} - places of different kinds
{Interviews} - interviews with people
{Contact Info} - contact informations to different people;
{Reference} - references to other sources, like books or websites;

Using classes

Using classes is simple, you just have to place correct class on the margin, near the content. To make class more distinct than i.e. additional informations, I'm putting them inside brackets. Now you know what kind of content you're looking at even without reading it ;).

More on "Classess"

In order to make my classes even more distinct, I'm using coloured stickers, like on the image you see on the right. Each class have it's own colour, i.e. I'm using pink for spells and chants, and pale yellow for terms. Therefore, when I'm looking for specific term, I know I won't have to hold my sight on pink stickers to more than 0.1 seconds :P.

Also, under each class you can add some additional informations, like:

Cleaning negative energies

Oh, don't worry about the example, you get the point. Finally, on the very first page of your notebook you should place a legend (key) for each and ever colour of your stickers. It meant to make your work easier, as sometimes you might run out of colours, and you will have to generalize them, i.e. as I'm using pink for three classes: {chants}, {spells} and {rituals}, instead of using three colours. Uff :)

I don't have a sticker!

If you don't have any sticker at the moment, don't worry, you can always just write the class with your pen, and someday you will replace it with a sticky piece of paper, after returning home from a long, long trip, from a galaxy far, far away.

Choosing a pen

You have to write with something

Below you can see few pens recommended by Moleskine users for Moleskine users. The best are gel pens, or fountain pens. Any rolling ball pens classic pencils are simple useless when it comes to a Moleskine due to the paper substance. Classic fountain and gel pens doesn't require any strength to write on Moleskine so they're the best choice.

Personally I'm using only gel pens when it comes to my Moleskines, so I'm recommending these. Also, Moleskine community is recommending Pilot G2 ;).

Pen Holder

One of the most unpleasant things in Moleskine is the lack of any good pen holder. Therefore we have to make it ourselves. Personally, I took some leather from an old wallet, sew it to make a round holder, and stick it to the inner side of the cover with a tape - et voila, it's working and it's good-looking too :).

Here is a set of links and resources for pen holders hacks

Moleskine Pen Clip Mod

Another Moleskine Pen Holder

Moleskine Pen Holder

Moleskine Pen Hack

Hacking your Moleskine to carry a pen

DIY Lanyard based penholder for moleskine

elastic pen loop

Moleskine Reporter DIY pen holder

Make a Moleskine pen holder

Organization (GTD)

Now that we have a pen to write, and we have created some very basic navigation system, it's time to start using our Moleskine. And we shall start with some GTD (Get Things Done) systems. Instead of describing them here, I will just point you to them somewhere in the web :).

GTD hack for pocket Moleskine infobook

Building a Pocket Sized Moleskine GTD System

Pocket Diary Moleskine Hack (no longer available)

Create a Moleskine PDA: The Student GTD Hack

The Moleskine Multi-Tab Hack

Creating a Custom Moleskine Planner (no longer available)

Getting/Staying Organized: my Moleskine PDA

The Addiction Scale

how addicted are you?

Moleskine sucks... I mean - it will suck you into the world of addicted moleskine users! One you bought your first Moleskine notebook, there is no return. See for yourself and tell me how addicted are you :).

1. Wannabe!
You're safe as long as all you want is to have a Moleskine. Maybe you seen one in your friends room, or maybe you heard legends about this cursed object - either way - your trip to damnation has begun :D.

2. Owner
So you have your very first Moleskine? You're already lost, but don't worry - we're here to help you accept your new nature! And know that you're not the only one who fall into this trap.

3. Your best friend
When you're carrying your moleskine everywhere just like keys or wallet, you passed the magical barrier - from one one, there's really no turning back.

4. Customization
If you found this page looking for some hacks and tips, you're Level 4 Addict - you want to customize your Moleskine, create hacks that will make it more useful and more beautiful! You're now a fully-fledged Mole person (congratulation?)

5. Second, Third, Fourth, Collection?
You've bought another Moleskine because one is not enough? You're level 5 now. Beware, as you might end up with a huge bookshelf of moleskines very soon (and even spend thousands of dollars for a Moleskine with magical spells written down during the First Moleskine Era).

6. Writing an "Ultimate Guide" to Moleskines
When you finally begun to collect resources to help others in their addiction (I mean - to make it stronger), you're level 6 - as someone said: "knowledge is nothing if you can't share it!"

There is no cure... You've been bitten by The Mole, there's no turning back.

Et voila!

Now you know everything it is to know to start with Moleskine (or other notebook). isn't this great? Now go and take a pleasure of using Moleskine, or leave some feedback in this guestbook!


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    • trusouldj profile image

      LaZeric Freeman 

      6 years ago from Hammond


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      ok, i'm already at level 6... great!! :D

    • profile image

      Amanda Beck Mauck 

      8 years ago

      whoa. very in depth. Love this hub :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very nice. I like the quadrant system. Very good. Will start using this.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love the navigation hack. Makes finding things easier when your moleskin is a jumble of ideas. or if like me, you manage to write two lines o text in a single line and can have more information on a page than needed.

    • spirituality profile image


      9 years ago from The Netherlands

      Great hub :) I like the idea of using 'classes' to organize your moleskine :)


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