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The possibilities are pretty much endless. Throughout history, notebooks have been used to record all sorts of things. 

If you opened up one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks, the Codex Arundel, you’d see a variety of things including ideas for mechanical objects, observations on how water flows in a river, studies of celestial objects, and theories of bird flight. You’d also find a grocery list for a herring, tortelli, two fennel soups, four anchovies and “a small quarter of a rough wine.”


A notebook can hold anything you can imagine

If you are staring uncertainly at the empty pages and wondering what you should fill them with, here are ten ideas to get you started. Maybe you’re the next Leonardo da Vinci? (Or maybe you just need to keep track of your food.) Starting can be intimidating. It needn’t be. We’re here to help.

10 ideas to help you fill an empty notebook

1. Start a diary
One of the most famous uses for a notebook is in keeping a diary. A diary is a lens for truth. It’s where you can be honest about the things you observe going on in your life. It can be as detailed as you want, touching on whatever you decide, because it’s a tool tailor-made for you. We all need to unload, and doing it in a diary can have a positive effect on how you see things. Getting your thoughts down on paper can clear your mind.



2. Start taking notes
According to Itamar Shatz of self-help website Effectiviology, “research shows that taking notes by hand allows you to remember the material better than typing those notes on a computer.” This is because the act of writing by hand forces you to actually process the information. “People tend to give more consideration to which parts of the material they should write down.” If you want to attain a more thorough understanding of a subject, open up your notebook and get writing. As a bonus, you’ll never have to carry around a charger or hunt for a wall plug.

3. Plan your life
You might immediately be thinking, “whoah, wait a minute. That’s a bit of an undertaking.” And you’d be right. You don’t have to plan out every single activity but having a plan for some of the things you want to achieve is helpful. At the end of the first chapter of Meaningful Work: A Quest to Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul, author Shawn Askinosie says to “step away from the book” and start writing. He charges you to write down defining moments in life that gave you pause or charged you up. Considering those events and how you felt about them is the first step on the lifelong journey that is your life. We highly recommend the book, if only so you can put it down and start writing.

4. Start a travel journal
There’s an old Icelandic proverb - Heimskt er heimaalið barn - which when translated means “a child needs to leave the shelter to learn.” It contains the Icelandic word for stupid - heimskur - which isn’t so much about a biological defect as it is about the notion of willful ignorance, of “never having sailed away from home.” Travel gives you a greater understanding of the world. This doesn’t mean you need a passport and a plane ticket. It means getting a little bit out of your comfort zone and seeing someplace new and maybe meeting different people.



5. Record your dreams
Your brain is always on. During the day it’s working more or less under your control. But when you sleep it’s still going. Ever sleep on a problem? You wake up the next day and the solution that eluded you 24-hours ago appears before you clear as day. Dreaming is the way your brain works out problems and attempting to recall them can be pretty interesting. Recording dreams and reflecting on them can be fun and may inform you of new ways to tackle problems during the day. Note: some dreams are just kooky and leave you scratching your head. That’s OK too.

6. Set life goals (daily ones count)
What do you want to achieve in a year? In a month? Even a day? Setting various goals and achieving them can give you a real sense of satisfaction. Maybe you want to write a novel. Start setting goals. Maybe you want to get healthier (more on that later). Start setting goals. A big goal is great but smaller readily achievable ones are just as helpful, probably more so. Shawn Askinosie quoted above was a high profile defense attorney before he gave it up to start a fair trade chocolate company. He set and changed goals. It’s OK for you to ditch old goals for new ones too. Do what’s right for you.

7. Start a quote collection
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” That’s by the American author and satirist, Mark Twain and we put it here to reiterate the importance of travel along with the usefulness of having a good quote at your disposal.



8. Collect aha moments
Ever come up with a clever turn of phrase or fun idea? “Oh, I’ll remember it later,” you thought to yourself. And then when you went to recall it, blank. Write it down! Our pocket diaries are great for this particular use.

9. Exercise tracker
Record how many miles you walked, sets of weights you’ve lifted, or the number of protein shakes you’ve drunk. If you bite it, write it, food diaries are the best way to help you maintain a healthy weight. Throw in a little activity and you’re on the road to health.

10. Pass down wisdom to your family
I will share with you a bit of wisdom I gained at a young age. Do not microwave an egg that is still in its shell. But if you do, do not open the door until after it explodes. Not as enlightening as the Family Sagas of the Icelanders, but a useful pearl of wisdom nonetheless. You are sure to do better.



In the end, fun is what counts. Enjoy the task, don't dread it.

Whatever you decide to do with your new notebook or journal, we ask only one thing, that you do not use it to prop up a crooked table. I mean, we’re proud of our products and want you to use them. Not so that you eventually have to buy another one but because our products are meant to be used and will last you a long time besides.

    For further reading

    Check Your Local Library
    (Outgoing Links to Books go to Amazon)

    The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Guevara

    Meaningful Work: A Quest to Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul by Shawn Askinosie

    Keeping a Dream Journal - Psychology Today

    Sagas of Icelanders - Wikipedia Entry

    Hrafnkel's Saga and Other Icelandic Stories is a good entry point into saga literature. This translation also contains the story of Hreidar the Fool which isn’t a saga but is a hoot to read.


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