Notebooks are on the spectrum of magic for me. They take what’s in my head — my ideas — and turn them into something tangible. Something workable.
I taught a class today on setting up planners and notebooks for the new year and I had to be careful to point out that digital works. It’s okay if you prefer to take all your notes in Evernote and use your Google Calendar for planning.
Really, it’s okay.
But for me? The magic is in the act of handwriting on paper.
There’s one notebook, though, that gives you the best of both worlds. The Rocketbook. This little notebook is reusable. You write in it with a Pilot Frixion pen and use water (or dry erase board cleaning fluid) to wipe it clean when you’re done.
The Rocketbook comes in two sizes. Letter, which is 8.5" X 11", like a standard sheet of paper. And executive, which is 6" X 8.8", or a little bigger than A5 size. Any style of Frixion pen works on it. The notebook comes with a microfiber cloth you can get damp with water and use to erase to your heart’s content.
I like to use dry erase board cleaning fluid and a dry cloth to clean a whole page. Precision cleaning — say just a line, rather than a whole page — can be tricky. I’ve used cotton swabs to clean up mistakes or misspelled words.
The Bridge Between Analog and Digital
I am really, really an analog girl. I’ll share with you in a minute why I love my Rocketbook so much and how I use it. But if you’re not so analog, or you like to use hybrid systems, the Rocketbook is pretty exciting.
You can take pictures of your pages and train Rocketbook to deal with the content. There are little symbols along the bottom the page. If you circle one, when you take a picture Rocketbook will do what you’ve told it to do with everything marked that way.
So, if you assign one symbol for pages you want Rocketbook to email to you, when you circle that symbol and take a picture, that page will automatically be sent to you.
Or sent to the right Evernote folder. Or added to your Google Calendar. Or whatever.
Creating Your Own Templates
At some point, though, I realized that I can design my own permanent Rocketbook templates (or layouts.)
You’d have to know me to know how happy this made me.
All you have to do is use a Sharpie or other permanent marker. Then write on the template with a Frixion pen. You’ll be able to erase the Frixion and leave the template behind.
How I Set Up My Rocketbook
What I wanted was something for longish-term goal planning. AKA: My OKRs. Here are the templates I made:
This is a simple three-box grid. I use little flag-sized sticky notes to note projects that are in different levels of doneness. I can move them down the grid as I work on and finish them.
A Monthly Calendar
This is a calendar I fill in every month with some basic notes. I don’t really plan in this notebook, but it’s nice to have a calendar in case I need one.
A Weekly Calendar
I use this grid to write down my standing schedule. These are appointments that I have all month at this time on this day. I find it really helpful to have this type of schedule at a glance because it helps me to decide if I can, or should, take something else on.
I created this spread, thinking I’d use my Rocketbook more like a planner. It turns out that I prefer my daily Passion Planner. I don’t actually want to erase my plans. I like to keep them.
I sometimes use this if I have a really tough day and I just need to do more planning to get through it. Or if I’m just feeling it. But mostly, I skip this one these days. I included it in case it’s something you might like to try.
A 10X10 Tracker Grid
This is a grid with 10 rows of ten columns. They’re numbered 1 to 100. I make a tiny little goal for myself — in this case, exercising every day and tracking my food. And then I mark off every day that I do that thing.
This is the best way I’ve ever found to develop a habit. There’s something magic about the streak combined with 100 days.
Running To Do List
This is pretty self-explanatory. This page is for keeping a running list of things I need to do. Since this isn’t my regular planner, I find that I have to remind myself to use this one. I’d like to try to integrate it more, though. Maybe for specific goals, rather than a general to-do.
OKR: Quarterly and Monthly
This spread is for quarterly and monthly OKRs, or goals. This works so well for me.
OKR: Big Picture
And this spread has OKRs for my five-year plan. Yeah. They’re big goals.
Post Ideas by Theme
I have two of these spreads, which gives me room for keeping lists of blog post ideas on eight different themes or topics related to my niche (which is writing and productivity.)
PSST Planner and Theme Planner
I use this pair of pages to plan blog posts (that’s the PSST page on the left) and my monthly theme (that’s the page on the right.)
PSST stands for Premise (or title of the post), Story (that I’ll tell at the start of the post), Subheads (which basically outlines the body of the post), and Takeaway (how I’ll end the post.) It’s the basic framework for my blog posts.
Last but not least I have a two-page future planning spread. I usually use this spread to plan my themes for each month. Or to keep track of big things that are coming up.
That’s it. It took me about an hour to put my Rocketbook together and I’ve been using it for about a year. The pages erase beautifully without bothering the Sharpie lines.
Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She is an out-of-place Nevadan living in Northwestern PA with her husband, three superstar kids, two dementia patients, a good friend, Alfred the cat, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes and is the author of Viral Nation, Rebel Nation, The Astonishing Maybe, and Center of Gravity. She is the original Ninja Writer.