When it comes to work, staying organized and on top of all that is going on is really important.
You need functional tools that are ready and willing to go to work for you. One of the best things to have on you at all times when you’re at work is a notebook.
Yes, you have a computer. But there is something special about a notebook and taking notes by hand. Studies have actually shown that while people taking notes on a computer were able to take more notes, they had worse comprehension of what they had written down, compared to people who were taking notes by hand.
Using a notebook is a smarter way to work, and can be a more satisfying way too. In a notebook, you have creative freedom to write things down in whatever style, format, and ink you like.
So whatever your work needs, here are our best recommendations for work notebooks and how to choose the perfect one for you.
Notebooks for meetings
Meetings are a place to shine, but that can be hard to do when you’re struggling to stay organized. There’s often a lot happening in a meeting, and a notebook that helps you keep up is important. So consider notebooks and notepads that give you some or all of these options:
- A designated section specifically for meeting details, such as date, time, place, attendees, etc.
- Clearly separated spaces for notes, questions, action items, and/or conclusions. Do you need a lot of space to take notes? Is having a section for next steps a must-have? Are lines, dots, or blank pages better for you and how you take notes?
- Consider different kinds of binding that will make your note taking life easy. Spiral allows you to fold over one half of your notebook, perfect if you have meetings in offsite locations where you’re standing or have limited table space to write on. As a negative, spirals are tough for left-handers. Layflat binding is great if you need continuous space from the left side of your notebook to the right, and works great for lefties. And fold over, flexible binding is good for when you a need a light, non-bulky option.
- Covers. Hardcovers give you durability and structure, but soft covers are lighter, travel easily, and have some flex. Think about the weight too and whether you’re on the go with your meeting notebook or usually just in one place; no need to lug around a heavy, hardback meeting notebook if you don’t have to.
- Do you later transcribe your notes into an electronic version or send a scan of your notes to colleagues? Do you keep your meeting notebooks for later reference? Recycle them? Look for easy-to-tear perforated pages (making scanning or recycling easy as pie), or ribbon finders and elastic enclosures (making future reference a breeze).
Some ideas for meeting notebooks you might want to take a closer look at include the Ink+Volt Meeting Notes. With space for the date, topic, attendees, important points, and follow up, your bases are covered in a simple, smart, streamlined system. With perforated edges, the pages are easy to share or tear, great for scanning, transcribing, or passing on. The size is easy to keep at the office or carry with you on the go with a softcover.
The Rhodia Meeting Book A4 also has lines along the top of the page to fill in whatever meeting details are pertinent to you, e.g. you need to keep track of date and time, but not attendees or location. The layout uses longer, vertical columns to separate your note taking from your action items.
If you’re looking for plenty of space, the Meeting Notebook Action Day allows you to write notes on one entire side of a 13×21 cm sized sheet. Plus, there’s space to write down questions (in advance or during the meeting), ideas, and conclusions or actions. An elastic closure, ribbon bookmark, and table of contents keeps your meeting notes safe and easy to find in the future.
Notebooks like The Traveler Notebook have a flexible cover and layflat binding, to give you space to write anything and everything. Though not specific for meetings (you won’t find any of the structure as the other meeting notebooks mentioned), its simplicity and lack of lines may be all you need if you like a minimalist style.
Everyday office notepads and deskpads
When you’re not in meetings, you’re likely at your desk, talking with colleagues, or brainstorming. So whether you’re fielding calls, questions, or impromptu brainstorming sessions, you need a place to write down and wrangle all of this information that comes your way.
Instead of a traditional notebook, allow me to suggest that you just might love a notepad or deskpad for your office.
An easy way to fill in last minute notes, make a list, or jot down a change in plans, these pads sit beautifully on your desk often with fun and pretty designs, while keeping important information easily accessible (not buried in notebook pages).
Versatile and functional, look for a notepad or deskpad that gives you the size you need (bigger versus smaller), has perforated edges to cleanly tear off pages as weeks/months go by, and space for what is most important to you (note space, goal focus, changes in schedule, appointments, etc.).
Deskpads are big notepads that often span a week or month calendar. A few options to consider for your deskpad at the office:
- Levenger’s Freeleaf Desk Pad with plenty of blank space
- Weekly deskpads like the Paint Strokes Weekly Deskpad
- Ink+Volt Calendar Deskpad, which spans a month and looks beautifully simple on your desk, with space for calendars, notes, and more.
The versatility of these larger notepads for your desk fill any notetaking void.
A staple for any office is the notepad, which don’t have to be boring. When you’re shopping for a notepad for the office, consider these elements:
- The size of your office notepad is important. Unless you’ve got a lot to write down all day every day, keep your notepad on the smaller side. An 8×11 pad of legal paper definitely works, but something that fits easily in your hand to carry around from office to office, slip into your desk drawer or keep by the phone, is likely all you need to jot down those quick notes or tasks on the fly.
- Blank or lined paper is always an option, but there are great notepads out there with formats that are especially ideal for office and work-related note taking. Look for sections that clearly differentiate note-taking from list-writing from task-jotting in designated spaces.
- Unlike your meeting notebook, notepads may or may not have covers. Consider whether you like or want the ability to physically close your notepad at the end of the day.
- To tear or not to tear. Perforated edges mean pages can easily come out of your notepad — is that a positive or a negative for you? Look for a paper style that will match how you like to handle your notes long-term.
Here are some office and work notepads to peruse depending on your preferences:
- Ink+Volt Daily Task Pad: This notepad does double duty with a section to take notes, plus space to keep track of your daily tasks. The flexibility to use it any day of the week (just circle and fill in the blank at the top) makes it versatile, and there’s a little word of encouragement at the bottom to keep you motivated!
- Knock Knock Notepad: Keep your day light with Knock Knock notepads. This one is focused on accomplishing tasks (and helps you track what is urgent versus super urgent), but has space for notes and the topic, date, and deadline. And this one makes remembering things funny and easy.
- Due in Time Notepads: This combo package includes a deskpad (flexible weekly calendar and space for notes and reminders), a numbered lined notepad with checkboxes making it clear what you have left to do, and a smaller, slender memo pad the perfect pair for your telephone.
- Leuchtturm 1917 Jottbook; it not only has a cover, but the pages are perforated so you keep only those note pages you need to hold onto.
- The Steno by Field Notes is a steno pad with spiral binding along the top that makes note-taking simple and straightforward.
- Fun to-do lists and simple lined notepads can make the day feel more enjoyable, like the Do or Die notepad, Havana Floral notepad, or a notepad that helps you clearly define your priorities like the Mandatory, Optional, Extra Credit Gridpad.
We hope these ideas jump start your notebook and notepad search, and you find the best one for wherever your office calls home!