The Best Professional Notebooks and How to Use Them

Two professional notebooks sit on a desk next to a jotter pad, a pen, and a pile of gold paperclips.

If you’re looking to spruce up your office accessories, a professional notebook is a simple but elevated way to treat yourself and refresh your tools. 

There’s nothing like that fresh, clean “back-to-school” feeling when you crack open a new notebook. A beautiful cover can turn a ho-hum desk into something more inviting. And the crisp, blank pages make every idea or note you jot down seem so much more promising and exciting.

Having a nice, professional notebook is a small way to lift your spirits when you’re working. It’s not often that we consider upgrading our office supplies, especially since we tend to see them as workhorse tools to help us work or be productive. But having a couple of nice items on your desk can do wonders for your outlook and attitude. By keeping a lovely professional notebook on your desk, it can help your mind ease into the work and make you feel more professional in a way.

Whether you’re super organized or you wish you could be more detail-oriented, we have ideas for the best professional notebooks for you.  

The perks of having a professional notebook

If you’ve never kept a professional notebook before or if you're wondering why you should trade in your spiral notebook for something nicer, here are some perks to keeping a professional notebook:

  • You can keep a separate notebook just for your work stuff
  • You can write meeting notes in a notebook instead a computer (which can be distracting and create a physical barrier between you and other people)
  • You no longer have to write down notes on a scrap paper and risk losing them
  • You can celebrate a job well done with a fresh, new notebook

The details you should look out for

  • Do you want a slim, compact notebook that you can keep in a bag? Or something more sturdy that you would keep on a desk? 
  • Do you want a cover with a whimsical, bright design?
  • Or do you want a cover with a subtle or solid color?
  • Do you like blank pages?
  • Or do you prefer the structure of lined pages and grids?

The best professional notebooks for you

If you like elegant design. The new Ink+Volt x Kunisawa Executive Notebooks and Founders Notebooks are made with amazing and high quality materials with a simple and elegant design. It will be hard not to feel like a powerful leader whenever you use them! When it comes to making your days feel more special, it’s all about the little ways to treat yourself. These beautiful Kunisawa notebooks are affordable and durable, but look as if you’ve splurged on a high-end luxury item.

If you like bright, bold colors. This cheerful cover and lined notebook from Poketo will certainly brighten up your desk and energize your work hours. 

If you like to get things done. Just like the flagship Ink+Volt planners, the Ink+Volt hardcover notebooks have the same high quality cover, layflat binding (so you never have to push down the pages as you write!) and 160 pages of lined or dot paper. This is perfect for using as your professional notebook while also writing down your goals and to-do lists or tracking your habits. Plus, the elegant cover makes your desk feel that much more professional and inviting.

If you like college notebooks. If you’re looking for a professional notebook but have a fondness for the spiral notebooks of years past, don’t worry! You can upgrade to a Kuniasaw Find Ring Spiral Notebook - it has grid lined pages that will give you the structure and familiarity of the college notebooks you know and love, but with an elevated look and feel. The high quality paper and copper details make it the ideal spiral notebook for adulting.

If you like notebooks that can double as journals. This beautiful leather notebook features a combination of blank and lined pages, so it can double as a professional notebook as well as a journal or sketchbook. This is perfect if you seek a little structure to write your to-do lists and meeting notes but also crave space to brainstorm or doodle. 

Ideas for your professional notebook

Here are some productive and creative uses for your professional notebook:

Meeting notes. Studies show that writing by hand can help you process and retain new information. Plus, writing by hand means that you’re less likely to get distracted on your computer and you can be more committed to being present in your meetings. You can even underscore important details with highlighters and color pens, which will make that information stand out more in your pages, and allow you to retrieve it more easily. 

After writing down your meeting notes, you can then use your notebook to write a list of action items from that meeting. By having all this information organized in one notebook, it will be easier to keep track of your work and what to do next.  

Brainstorm ideas. A great way to generate and brainstorm new ideas is to free associate and write down anything that comes up for you. Later, you can refer back to your brainstorm page and see if you can make any connections or build onto your ideas.

Track your habits. Are you looking to reduce screen time or make a bigger effort to speak up in meetings? Keep track of it in your professional notebook. You can devote a few pages to writing down habits you’d like to maintain and add a checkmark or a date every time you make progress on these new habits. 

Study companion. If you have to study briefing reports or if you want to gain some new skills in your field, you can use your professional notebook to help you study. At the end of the week or the month, go over your study notes and brush up on what you’ve learned. This can help you improve your retention and always keep new knowledge fresh in your memory.  

Keep a list of weekly achievements. These can be big or small. Write down nice things clients or  managers said about you. Maybe you went above and beyond or maybe you submitted something big on time. It doesn’t matter if it seems trivial; recording your win can do wonders for boosting your self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. So go ahead--write down what you achieved!

Keep a list of weekly challenges. You can also use your professional notebook to describe any obstacles or challenges you encountered. Were you able to resolve it? How would you approach it differently next time? If you ever encounter a similar challenge in the future, you can return to these pages for guidance as well as gain confidence knowing that you can get through this particular challenge as well. 

Performance review. By keeping a regular list of your achievements and challenges in your notebook, you can refer to these pages the next time you need to complete your performance review. You would be surprised how many big accomplishments you can forget about shortly after they’re completed - wouldn’t it be nice to have them to refer to when you’re meeting with your manager? Also, if you freelance or work as a creative, you can conduct your own personal quarterly or seasonal review and use these pages to measure how far you’ve come in a year!

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