New Notebook, New Nightmare

When we were young,my brother and I coined a phrase “New Handbag, New Nightmare”. This arose out of the trouble to find things in our mother’s handbag, every time it changed, which she must have done on a pretty regular basis. Previously we knew the right compartment for money, Polos, house keys, headache tablets, then it all changed.

I feel the same about changing work notebooks.

Original notebook and Son of Notebook

I’d pretty much finished my current notebook and had it’s successor waiting in my bag. This week I started the new notebook, but felt I still had to carry around the old one, as I had over 18 months of stuff in there. This weekend I bravely made the transition fully over to Son of Notebook.

The Original notebook tracks from 2 January 2018 to the end of September 2019. During this time I started and completed the NHS Leadership Academy Aspiring Director Programme, took on the role as Programme Director for the NHS App and moved to Kettering General Hospital as CDIO. As such the notebook marks a number of points of professional and personal development and has a certain level of sentimental value. But you can’t write on sentimental value.

There is no shortage of things that my friends enjoy teasing me about, but it felt a missed opportunity not to document my new notebook ritual and add to the array of things I do in an odd way that are worthy of ridicule!

Extracts from Time to Think (Klein) and First, Break all the Rules (Clifton) pasted into Son of Notebook

How I organise my notebook:

  • Add page numbers — either in advance or as I go
  • Paste in my summaries from regarding daily listening and supervision sessions
  • Paste in my summary from , about performance monitoring meeting into the back [this is a new addition in Son of Notebook since I read the book over the summer]
  • Start a page at the front for the cluster index, which is generally the last thing to be filled in
  • Start a page at the back for blog ideas
  • Add notes from the front to back for daily actions
  • Add notes from the back to the front for personal and professional development
  • To Do lists are written in green. There is only every one list in play at any time. Previous lists are struck through with a note as to the page containing its successor. Completed actions are ticked in red, with a note of the day completed.
  • Any actions in the notes a marked with a capital A. Every few days I do a sweep and move the incomplete actions to the master To Do list, marking the A with a red arrow. Any completed actions are ticked in red.

Yep. Definitely worth giving me stick about.

My cluster index

What I learn in going through an ensuring the cluster index of Original notebook was up to date.

  • I found some orphaned actions not on my current To Do list. Some ancient but still relevant ones had totally dropped off my radar. This probably reflects the battle I have with myself regularly between adding stuff to Trello and adding it to the Master list, meaning some stuff gets noted elsewhere. I will try and keep both in sync for a month and see how this works.
  • My note book contained 2/3rds of notes and 1/3rd of personal and professional development stuff. I was pleased to see so much on professional and personal development, which accurately reflects what a significant period the last 18–24 months have been for me. Particularly useful was going back over a) my coaching sessions and making sure I’m progressing on the things I agreed with my coach to work on and b) some of the conversations I had with various people to prepare myself for my new role. Some of it has greater relevance now I’m fully embedded, so it was useful to read and think about it again.
  • Going through and updating the Cluster Index gave me some kind of closure on the Original Notebook. I knew that if I needed to find something again, that I had a reasonable summary of the important summary.

Original Notebook is dead! Long live Son of Notebook!

Husband. Dad to 3 smashing lads. Cub Leader. MAMIL. Group CDIO for Northampton and Kettering Hospitals. Ex NHS Digital. Views own. Always learning.