January 9, 2023

The 4-Notebook Method for Life Planning and Organization

The 4-Notebook Method for Life Planning and Organization

As someone who values organization, I’ve found that using four notebooks helps me keep my writing, to-dos, and miscellaneous notes in order. These notebooks include:

  1. The Journal: A place for reflective writing and long-term goal planning.
  2. The Daily Planner: A spot for tracking daily tasks and appointments.
  3. The Organizer: A notebook for organizing projects and ideas.
  4. The Pocket EDC: A small notebook that I can always have on hand for quick notes and reminders.

Each notebook serves a specific purpose in helping me stay organized and productive. Here’s a closer look at how each one works:

Notebook 1 - The Journal

In this notebook, I keep track of my daily reflections and journaling entries. It serves as a place for me to do free writing and brain dumping, as well as to keep track of lists and other information. I write the date at the top of each page before getting started.

With 400 pages, this notebook, which I affectionately call the Hulk, has the potential to last for years.

Notebook 2 - The Daily Planner

Small but mighty. A daily planner has a calendar and one page per day. This is the analog replacement for both my calendar and todo app. All the tasks I have to do get entered in the planner.

The advantage of using a notebook instead of an app is better focus. It is easy to find and write what you need and there are no notifications to distract you.

Notebook 3 - The Organizer

In this notebook I focus on the task of organizing my year, month, and weeks. This is where the planning process begins before being transferred to the Daily Planner. It is important to note that this notebook is meant to be a workspace and not necessarily something that will be referred back to in the future.

I use this notebook to jot down bullet points, to-do lists, and diagrams that help me create structure for my projects and plans. It is also where I keep timelines and roadmaps for my projects. The main focus of this notebook is on figuring out what steps I need to take to reach my daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, and long-term goals.

I keep this notebook at home and use it as a tool for fleshing out plans. If I am out and have ideas, I record them in one of my other notebooks. The Organizer is designated by its red cover and is meant to be used as a workspace.

Notebook 4 - The Pocket EDC

The goal for this notebook (similar to the red organizer) is for it to be a temporary place. Nothing important should live here. Many important ideas or plans might start here, but they should not end here.

Since you’ll have this notebook with you all the time, it will be filled with a random assortment of stuff. This means you will never go to this notebook with confidence to find something.

You need to migrate value out of this notebook into a permanent space. That could be your Hulk, or your planner, or any other tool (calendar, to-do app, etc).

The EDC is your faithful companion. Your adventurous friend always willing to go anywhere and everywhere. Take it with you when you don’t know what to expect and you will have a faithful companion.

This notebook should be thin and flexible so you never have to think twice about bringing it with you or not. Yes, you want to bring it with you.


Is using four notebooks overkill? Maybe. But it has been a game-changer for me in terms of staying organized and on top of my tasks and notes. Each notebook serves a specific and essential purpose in my productivity journey.

January 9, 2023 · #writing


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