📓 Monthly Field Notes Log

11 April 2020 journaling

I wrote a long time ago about how I use one Field Notes notebook every month to keep track of things, plan my month, and log what went on, but I figured it’s been awhile so it’d be worth it to revisit while setting up next months book. I’ve kept a Field Notes notebook for over six years, five of them with a book dedicated to each month, four years ago I incorporated the Gutentag stamp1, and then for the last three, the spread and set-up have essentially been the same. Sometimes I’ll get lazy, other times I’ll go overboard, but the foundation has stayed tried and true.

The basics of it are: using one book per month and every weekday has a dedicated page, weekends share a page, there’s a habit and bill tracker, a future log, and a monthly summary page. I took some photos of it and will describe as I go on. Before we get into it though, a little background.

There are 48 pages in a Field Notes notebook and the goal is to make sure the most important days fall on the right side when open, with no bleed through. There are only 24 of those pages available, which is why weekends share a page, this ensures every week day during a month will fall on the right side. With that being said, page 1 is always my habit and bill tracker, so the month always starts on page 3 (page 2 used to be a comic tracker, but I haven’t done that in over a year). When a weekend comes up, it will be on the backside of a Friday, sharing the spread with a Monday. Working with this format has worked well for over three years now.

The habit and bill tracker is pretty straight forward: the top half is for habits, habits on the top, days on the left, and I just fill in the squares to indicate if I did it or not. The habits here change occasionally and I always leave an extra spot in case I want to add something down the line. The bill tracker is just an open circle next to the name of each bill. Once paid, I just check it off. Since this is the first page of the book, I’ll write down the month and year as a clear indicator when flipping through old books.

Each daily page gets stamped with the Gutentag stamp (two for weekends), where I write the date inside, and an open black circle to fill in the phase of the moon2. On the other side of the date, I’ll do a little doodle of the weather conditions, and put the temperature under the date. Around the circle will be any appointments or meetings for the day. I use a different color to distinguish between work meetings, outside appointments, and lunch. Inside the circle, I’ll put in a rough outline of what time will be spent in the office3, and always noting the time I start and end work. During some months, I’ve done a meal and podcast log (which you’ll see here), but haven’t done that for awhile since podcasts make it to my link lists on this site, but I may bring the meal logging back. When I have certain tasks I want to get done, or major things happen, they always have a space here.

At the end of the book is the future log and the summary log, which are always page 47 & 48 in the back of the book. The future log is where I’ll write down anything I want to bring over to the next book, usually as a way to remind myself of appointments down the line. While I have a Hobonichi Weeks for a more full schedule, this is just a nice page to have available, but is rarely actually used. The summary log is a very high level list of things that happened during the month. This can include books read, movies and shows watched, sporting events, political events, personal events, work events, etc. Really, it’s whatever happens. Usually, I’ll have over twenty things written and at the end of the month, I’ll go back and circle my favorite or most important five so they pop out when looking back over past months.

Well there you have it. It might seem like a lot to some people, but it’s pretty straightforward. I can usually set-up a month’s book in about fifteen minutes. It’s been super helpful as a way to keep myself on track, and as a way to look back on what I’ve done. As I’ve gotten more digital there have been months with very sparse pages, but it’s still something I find crucial to keep on my person. The great thing about this format is being able to have a new book every month, often from the Field Notes Colors subscription, and there are always an abundance of blank pages to doodle, make lists, or just write down some thoughts if the days page is already full.

  1. I scratched out the branding… unfortunately it doesn’t look like it’s available for sale anymore↩︎

  2. the moon portion has come and gone over the years, but I decided to get back to it this month after being off for four↩︎

  3. the day you see completely filled in had a doctor appointment in the morning. I swear I’m in the office earlier than this on a typical day↩︎

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