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A notebook, binder, or other inexpensive source of paper can be the foundation of a nice system. Some options I’ve used in the past are:

  • Moleskine
  • Disc Bound Notebook
  • Composition Notebook
  • Stack of Index Cards

The Steps

  1. Decide what productivity method to follow
  2. Decide how long the notebook needs to last
  3. Decide What types of pages you need
  4. Design Pages

Which Method?

It took me years to develop and codify the planning system I use, The Middle Way Method. You can read about it on this site, but if you don’t use my method, you still need to know what kinds of pages you need. I classify most Systems into either Top-Down, or Bottom-Up methods.

The Methods

Top-Down methods focus on who do you want to become, and what are your core values. After an intense and very personal journey of discovery you craft a personal mission statement, and depending on your method a vision statement as well.

Bottom-Up methods focus on what do I need to accomplish today. They help us complete tasks, and accomplish goals.

The Middle Way Method is designed to bridge the gap between Top-Down, and Bottom-up, using the best parts of both.

Determining How Long the Notebook needs to last.

Try to guage the amount of pages you need per day or week. That will tell you about how long the notebook will last. As you design pages later, you can revisit this to get a more accurate idea of how long the notebook will last. Typically you will need 1-2 pages per week or day depending on your calendar preferences. If you want pages dedicated to your task list, then you need to include them.

Determine the Types of Pages you need.

You need to determine what kinds of pages you need in your system. Not everyone needs every type of page.

Example Pages

  • Calendar
  • To-Do / Task List
  • Goals and Projects
  • Mission / Vision
  • Journal Pages

Design Your Pages

The final step is to design your pages. Take your notebook, and determine how much space it has. You can now design your own pages. Draw them out. If you are using a notebook where you can add pages to the notebook, you can use tools, like D*I*Y Planner to create your pages on your computer, and print them, then add them to your book.

Deciding on the kind of notebook to use

It can be overwhelming choosing your notebook, you can go expensive, or less expensive, high quality or low. personally I have found I have a hard time using notebooks I spend a lot of money on for planners, because it feels like I’m wasting them. Whereas disc bound, binders, composition books I feel like I can use for this purpose. Use the tool best for you and the job.

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Jordan McGilvray


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The Middle Way Method

Where Top-Down and Bottom-up Meet in the Middle

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