My new "command central" notebook

Twice a year I go to CHA - the Craft & Hobby Association Conference & Trade Show.
This is a big note-taking, card-taking, deal-making, hand-shaking, inspiration-quaking show for me. Sure, I have an iPad and a laptop on my person, but I'm still a pen and paper gal when it comes to my travel agenda, the seminars I attend, the appointments and commitments I make, ideas and inspiration I want to remember.

Usually I take a steno pad or a small spiral notebook, but they don't look very professional. I've taken an art journal and colored pencils, thinking I might enjoy some quiet creative time at the show in between notes and agendas, but that's virtually impossible because every minute of every hour for four days is mapped out with people to see, places to go, things to do. I've never gotten into the complex planner systems notebooks either...too much muss and fuss and preprinted templates that I don't need, not to mention they're expensive.

Enter Martha Stewart Discbound Notebooks. The good people from Martha's home office team sent me one of these notebooks with a few accessories to review (they're available at Staples). At first I thought, meh...another binder-style notebook with lined paper, a nice heavy cover and a pen holder. But then I looked more closely and realized the whole "discbound" feature in the spine was pretty cool. All the pages and divider tabs pop in and out of the disc rings like Rolodex cards. 

So you can move pages or tabs around, take them out, put them back, way easier and faster than with a 3-ring binder. Plus this solves one of my huge pet peeves with tearing out pages from spiral bound notebooks...I hate all the messy little paper bits stuck on the other side of the spiral.

One of the accessories are these narrow little to-do list papers that come on a pad. You can stick one wherever you need it, and the top peeks out above the note sheets.

I started thinking about how I take notes at the seminars I attend. There's the stuff I write down just because the act of writing what I hear helps me retain the information I'm learning. Then there's the info I want to actually do something with later, like visit a website the speaker recommended, or sometimes the topic reminds me of something else I need to do or try after the show. So I think these little to-do slips are going to be very handy to insert next to my notes for safekeeping, then they'll be so much easier to find later, instead of reading through all my notes looking for where I put something in all caps or underlined it. Then there are the sheets in between seminar notes, where I'm doodling or designing or jotting down plans for that next big idea...which I can easily move to a separate section whenever I want.

So I gotta say, this little notebook will be my perfect "command central" for CHA in January, and it will come in handy for client meetings right now. It's a nice size for my big purse, and all the accessories and refills are less expensive that some of the other planner systems. The note sheets glide smoothly along the discs without coming off (for turning pages), and they could easily be used like a daily appointment calendar. It has a couple pockets to store business cards and such, plus a nice elastic band to hold it closed. Thanks Martha!