The Best Technology for the New Year.

The greatest technology for a creative person is neither an app nor a device, it is paper.

As we begin the new year, I wanted to share this analog system with you, which I call The Creativity Notebook, so that it can transform your world the way it has mine.

As a working artist and mother, I am constantly searching for different methods to increase my productivity and to enhance my life.

I love technology. I’m a longtime subscriber to Lifehacker, use Trello and I couldn’t function without Google Docs. But when it comes to capturing ideas, lists and making appointments on a device, I risk falling into the black hole of news, email or social updates that we all do. I tried and found every form of note-taking, list-tracking a productivity killer and a time waster.  The connection between paper and creativity is well documented.  An artist’s greatest asset is uninterrupted time.  I had to invent a system that would enhance the creative process, not detract from it.

There is no creativity without productivity.

I tried other paper or “analog” systems but found them either tedious or overwrought.  I needed something simple, inspiring and action-oriented all in one.  As a painter, entrepreneur and founding arts editor of a major online newspaper, it is essential that I stay organized.  I started with a sketchbook and this is how the Creativity Notebook was born.

Right: Ideas/Notes  |  Left: To do lists/Actions

The Creativity Notebook: The Front Half

The first half of the Creativity Notebook has a simple Segregated Notes and Action Items section with thoughts/notes/sketches on the left and the action items on the right page.  When either side is full, migrate only the uncompleted tasks only to the righthand side of the next spread. The tactile experience of re-writing incomplete tasks reinforces their need to get done.

This working method catapulted my productivity to a whole new level. People always ask me “When do you find the time?” This is how.  The Creativity Notebook also becomes an incredible chronological file because, if somebody asks, “What was it that we discussed in that meeting months ago?” I only need to flip backwards to find the notes in your handy notebook.

Incorporating a Datebook

The back half of the Creativity Notebook is the calendar section.  This was the hardest to develop and gives me the most pleasure now that I have.  It involves a simple binder brass clip and lots of art by either me or you.   By putting the datebook on the back, only past dates and future blank note pages are under the clip. Previous notes and future dates are always accessible outside of the clip. All I have to do is move the clip to the right and exactly on the current date.  It is the perfect combination – a datebook, a notebook, a sketchbook and an idea book all in one.

Important Features
I experimented with every kind of paper notebook and found that certain subtleties make huge differences.

Unlined/Uncoated Paper
I want no borders to hem my ideas in.  Furthermore, the texture of uncoated paper reunites me with a more primitive self and connects me to everyone who has ever held a writing instrument on parchment throughout time. It feels organic and real.

The Importance of Art Every Week

Given my sensitivity to visual input, I created suggestive art that still has usable margins as a key feature.  Just seeing a color, line, poem, quote or a shape of any kind differentiated a week. Experiencing art during a week creates visual scaffolding and anchors the pleasure of planning.   In the past when I bought art-centric datebook from museum shops, I was limited to one artist’s work I couldn’t write on, no margins and too smooth and thick heavy paper necessary for art reproductions.  This also made the whole book too heavy to carry with me wherever I went.

Binding that can Lie Flat or Fold Completely

The binding must be able to completely fold it to one one side and block out either the actions or the notes for focus.

Vertical Week Structure

Subtle but important, unlike the Week-at-a-Glance system, I needed to stacking the days with morning activities and on the left and evening activities on the right to make it easier to see if I’ve planned too many evenings in a row. Downtime is essential for creative minds.

I have been beta-testing it with numerous artists and entrepreneurs in California and they all tell me how it has streamlined so much of what they do and they treasure it the more they use it.  Yes, it means that everywhere you go, you will carry around a notebook that has all my beginnings whether they be thoughts, drawings, tasks and calendar in one place. You already carry keys, a wallet and a piece of metal and glass that is known and scientifically-proven to be a creativity killer.  Now it’s time to try The Creativity Notebook.

I am currently offering two editions which are handcrafted in my studio in Venice, California:

Signed Limited Artist Edition of 100 $58
52 water colors/gouache paintings by Kimberly Brooks
Wire binding
As of this writing, there are 67 left.

A Design Your Own Creativity Notebook Edition with a blank space next to each week for you to enter your quotes, doodles, poems stickers by yourself.  Also hand crafted in my studio.

Design Your Own Edition $35
Wire Binding
52 Weeks of Calendar
45-60 Spreads for the Segregated Notebook
Calendar on the last three pages 2017, 2018, 2019
5.5 x 8 inches, 120 pages

When I draw something, I remember it.
The drawing is a reminder of the idea that caused me to record it in the first place.
That visceral connection, that thought process, cannot be replicated by a computer.

– Michael Graves, “Architecture and the Lost Art of Drawing” New York Times 2012

“The research is unequivocal: Laptops distract from learning, both for users and for those around them. It’s not much of a leap to expect that electronics also undermine learning in high school classrooms or that they hurt productivity in meetings in all kinds of workplaces.”

Susan Dynarski, New York Times 2017