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  • Old Notebooks

    I have a bunch of old notebooks that have ideas, notes to myself, drawings, etc in them. I'm not sure whether to tear out all the pages that I want to keep or just to put them on a bookshelf as general unsorted reference. The first option seems better but having a bunch of loose papers in my filing system may not be the best option. Does anyone have any ideas about how to sort them, what to do, etc? Thanks

  • #2
    My two cents

    If you can find the stuff you'll need in them easily, you're probably better off keeping them as is. If there's a bunch of junk you'd have to sort through each time you went to find stuff, you're probably best served by tearing out what you need and throwing the rest away. If they're really old and you haven't used the stuff in them, ask yourself if they're really worth keeping.

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    • #3
      If you really want to keep most of the information in your notebooks, I'd recommend keeping them (for neatness) and indexing the contents. For your purposes, it's easy:

      1. Label each notebook A, B, C, etc.
      2. Number the pages in each notebook.
      3. Open a Word document, go through the notebooks, and make a consecutive list of items (either all of them, which might be exhausting and unnecessary, or those you are most likely to want to retrieve again), putting the book and page number after each item:
      knitting, B22
      blacksmithing, D43
      world conquest, A19
      4. Alphabetize the list (Table > sort).

      Alternatively, you could just paginate the notebooks, make a table of contents for each one, and keep all the tables of contents together in your reference file.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by aeko View Post
        I have a bunch of old notebooks that have ideas, notes to myself, drawings, etc in them. I'm not sure whether to tear out all the pages that I want to keep or just to put them on a bookshelf as general unsorted reference. The first option seems better but having a bunch of loose papers in my filing system may not be the best option. Does anyone have any ideas about how to sort them, what to do, etc? Thanks
        There's no such thing as "unsorted reference," in my opinion.

        I'd put those notebooks in my inbox and process just like anything else.

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        • #5
          How much is "a bunch?"

          The larger the stack is, the more time-consuming and tedious it will be to process, and the more likely you are to quit before you're done. Quitting in the middle would leave you with a mess, since you wouldn't know what had been filed and what was still in the notebooks.

          Unless the stack is small enough to reasonably process in an afternoon or two, I would recommend keeping them as bound reference, possibly following the indexing suggestion above.

          Katherine

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          • #6
            alternative opinion

            You could go through the notebooks and determine the Projects, next actions, and someday/maybes and put those in your GTD system. If there's anything you need for reference that you'd like to keep in a separate project folder you could photocopy that page.

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            • #7
              Thanks everyone for the replies. I'll give the suggestions a try. I have about 2 heavily-filled notebooks and 3 or 4 that can be indexed and such. Should take only a few evenings to look through everything. I think indexing may be the way to go since taking about the pages would lose the context unless I labeled them with notes of date/time/context/etc.

              I'd love to hear any other ideas.

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              • #8
                I agree with Day Owl's suggestion to keep and index each notebook. That's what I do with all of mine, since I never know what's going to be important or what I may want to use again in the future. I would suggest that, for future notebooks, you index as you go along. Index cards are a simple, low-tech way to do this, but you can also do it on the computer as described above. At the end of the notebook, you could then use the index cards to easily create a neat, type-written index and/or table of contents for the notebook.

                You don't necessarily have to list every single thing in the index/TOC, either. I am a very visual person; when I'm trying to remember where a particular note, sketch, or piece of information is, I "see" it on the page along with whatever else is written there. As long as I've noted at least one thing on that particular page, I know that the un-noted thing that I'm looking for is there as well.

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                • #9
                  Yes, I think the idea of indexing notebooks is a great one. I'm looking forward to getting it all done. Thanks Dawn

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