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How Do You Take Notes?

If you’re like me, then you take notes very neatly in a notebook that you carry around at all times, no exceptions allowed. This notebook of yours, which is similar to mine, is a mixture of text and images, both meticulously drawn and written. If you’re also like me, then you keep your wallet armed with a 0.5 lead pencil (I am very picky and won’t take notes of I don’t have my pencil) for spontaneous note taking moments. If you’re really like me, almost identical, then you write in pencil ONLY because things change and need to be erased and written.

How do you take notes? Do you take notes in a notebook or do you take notes on a smartphone? Do you take notes with a pencil, a pen, or a marker? Do you highlight your notes? Do you take notes with pictures or words?


  1. Reply


    People like you, who are so well organized, always impress me, as I am the very opposite of it. Guided by gut feelings and emotions, no structure and planning can change me. How many times did I buy notebooks, but all of them are sitting somewhere on shelves, forgotten. If I happen to write notes, those are scrabbled on pieces of paper, pages of magazines, napkins or receipts. I take notes with whatever is available. But “in normal life” I write only with a pencil, exactly like yours. Does it come from MUJI? πŸ™‚

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      I don’t know who makes my pencil because the
      brand name is written in Japanese. Maybe it is MUJI?

  2. Reply


    I do something similar to what you do, but I use an unlined moleskine and a 0.5 lead mechanical pencil (I never use pen). However, I rarely use text, I just don’t really think in the context of words for whatever reason (which is also why I use a tumblr for my blog). A lot of the drawings on my tumblr are actually refined versions of these notes. Otherwise, I keep a few folders on my computer full of various images I thought were cool, as well as a bunch of photos on my smartphone.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      It’s interesting that you don’t think in the context of words and that you’re better with images because I’m better with words. I’m actually somewhat socially awkward – I can express myself sooo much better through words that are written rather than spoken. When I get in an argument, I usually ask whoever I’m arguing with if I can write them a letter expressing how I feel. Weird, right?

      • Reply


        Not weird to me, I am like that too when it comes to expressing myself! But I have been drawing more lately. I do try to sketch things I see or think of, and often times it’s the sketch that reminds me of what I liked about it more than anything I write down. I love it when my notes look neat and clear, but I’m Ok when they don’t, as long as the idea is there. I’m actually paranoid about never making notes in pencil, since they rub off as I use the book and I might lose my ideas!

  3. Reply


    I wish I can make notes as neat as yours! I scribble notes on piece of scraps in unintelligible handwriting that I can’t even read afterwards >_<

  4. Reply

    Carmen Hui

    You have such neat handwriting! I tend to take notes all over the place, it is not uncommon to find pieces of post-its or ripped paper in the bottom of my bag. I think I need to be more organised and place all my notes in one central location.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      everyone has a method to their madness!

  5. Reply

    Kat Sultanie

    Wow! That is a very detailed notebook. And so neat! My notebook is a collection of lists and scribble and is a major mess and totally disorganised but it works for me. I take notes in pen too so it always has stuff I scribble out.

  6. Reply


    Holy crap that is a neat notebook! No – I am not like you! My notes end up in one of 5 places: the unlined notebook I stash around my sewing room, the red lined notebook I mostly use for work, my smartphone, a zillion tiny floating post-it notes, or, most likely, inside my own brain!
    I love how technical and neat your drawings and notes are. Very much like your blog graphics, actually!

  7. Reply


    Your illustrations are so cute!! And NEAT! You don’t want to see what my handwritten notes look like….I’ve just started using Evernote on my iPhone, Nook and Desktop so that I have access to them anywhere and they stay updated across the board. My note taking in books days will never be over, though. I have to admit that it’s not a great system for me because I end up with three or four books going at once.

  8. Reply

    Rochelle New

    I have a notebook but it’s an exact replica of my thoughts as they come. Erratic, sporadic, discombobulated, out of order, and generally a crazy mess haha! I usually have to take series of notes. A rough copy and then a neatly planned out final copy of a note. I’m so impressed with your notebook! It’s inspiring.

  9. Reply


    I always take notes in a notebook with a 0.05 or 0.1 micron pen – I can not use the thicker ones for some weird reason, unless it’s for drawing and sketches. I am not very attracted to taking notes digitally. Handwritten notes and sketches feel more personal and pretty.
    I am obsessed with keeping all of my notes organized, super tidy and even categorized when possible. I don’t always succeed at it, but I try.

    Yours are the epitome of polished and neat notes. The illustrations are so beautiful!

  10. Reply

    Becky Haas

    I’m so impressed with your notebook. I’m not the most organized of seamstresses by a long shot, so when I take notes, they’re usually scribbled on whatever piece of paper is closest. And I often lose them. When I’m out shopping and find inspiration, I like to use my phone because at least then I can stick a picture on my fashion inspiration Pinterest board and I’ll know where it is later! Yeah, I need to work on this….

  11. Reply

    Natasha Estrada

    I’m not really a notetaker. In high school and college I rarely took notes if I did it was one or two keywords. I always try to keep changing myself buying my pretty little notebooks. I really did try I bought myself the prettiest anthro scrapbook to write my knitting patterns in. The first two pages are pretty with an attached gauge swatch and a technical diagram. The actual written pattern is a mess starting with a full written out pattern ending is just table of numbers that kinda mean something. I do write lists though in my pink moleskine to break down projects into small achievable chunks.

    A microtex needle might help with the skipped stitches.

  12. Reply


    I am so impressed with your detailed note taking and your perfectly drawn sketches! When I was in Fashion Design School I took notes like that, sadly now I mostly sketch out ideas with a few notes, but mainly they are water color drawings, that is the extent of my current note taking.. I used to carry around a moleskin which I would sketch in when I got an idea..you are inspiring me to do that again!

  13. Reply


    Those are some SERIOUSLY impressive sketches. Mine are much messier than that πŸ˜‰

  14. Reply


    Your notebook is a little work of art! I write in fountain pen in mine (aqua ink) but if I’m drawing its pencil, but any one that comes to hand! I’d love to see more if you ever want to share!

  15. Reply


    Holy cow! Your notes intimidate me. I recently took an intro to lace mini-class with Susan Khalje and was pretty shocked when others pulled out note pads. Not to be outdone, I jotted a few notes in the margin of the newspaper, next to the crossword puzzle which I had done in pen. When I ran out of margin, I switched to the back of a knitting pattern. This is pretty typical for me – margins or post-it’s in ink.

  16. Reply


    I am so happy to see that I am not the only one who takes detailed project notes!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      that makes 2 of us!

  17. Reply

    Jackie Saffert

    Your notes are something of an art, Maddie! In school, as an architecture student, I was a bit more artistic with my note taking and would carry a sketchbook around with me most of the time. Now most of my note taking is done on my iPhone. I have approximately one million lists on there and am constantly adding ideas for the blog, my shopping list and everything in between!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      I still can’t warm up to using my iPhone as a notepad! In some ways, I still live in the stone ages!

  18. Reply

    Becky Stets

    My notes look nothing like that! My drawings are very sketchy but I do like to have the measurements down whether my drawings are to scale or not.

  19. Reply

    Sewing Princess

    I love your sketch pad! it’s art and technique on a page. Sometimes I take notes or pictures for inspiration…other than that…I can’t sketch unfortunately! I wish I had a notebook like yours!

  20. Reply


    I am in awe, too. My notes look like alien scratch, partly because my hand doesn’t work as fast as my brain. I have three notebooks for different activities and I also take a lot of notes on the computer. It’s all so disparate. I’m with you on the right pen/pencil. I have one brand of pen that I like, and I love a 2H pencil, very sharp.

  21. Reply

    Amy of Sew Well

    I used to keep notebooks. My life has gotten too hectic and cluttered lately. Time to clean it up!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      clean it up girl!

  22. Reply

    Latrice Smith

    It really depends, at work, it’s usually post-it and notepads. There are little post-its all over my desk, even design ideas. Other times I make notes on my phone.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      is it sad that I put post-its IN MY NOTEBOOK! Talk about organized, right?

  23. Reply


    OMG your notebook is amazing!!! It’s so neat and tidy and informative, I LOVE it! πŸ˜€
    How do I take notes? Compulsively and messily. I try to tidy them up later by writing them in evernote.

    Did I mention how I love yours? Heh heh!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      At least you try to clean them up afterwards! Good girl πŸ™‚

  24. Reply

    Barn icles

    wow beautiful! i dont take notes that well!

    i like your insistence on having a 0.5mm pencil!

    my notes get out of control and have outgrown me! but really would be very useful


  25. Reply


    Wow, I love your notebook! I keep separate notebooks (one for work, one for sewing, one for writing projects, one for to-do lists) and I’m constantly scribbling notes down on loose bits of paper everywhere. At the end of the day I have to empty my pockets of all the little notes I’ve made and transfer them to the right notebooks. So messy!

  26. Reply

    Chrystina Noel

    That sketch is absolutely beautiful – and I love how clean everything looks. I take notes in pen all the time. There are constantly doodles. It is a combination of print and script – and the bullet points are always round circles.

  27. Reply


    haha, i’d say my notebook looks a lot like yours will tons of little arrows and notes, only i do that because my sketches are so crude that if i didn’t i’d have no idea what i drew when revisiting it! i need to work on my sketching skills. yours are so impressive!

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