How to Make Your Life more efficent than ever before: The Notebook / Battleplan


Hey all 3Ders!

I hope not to break the forum code by posting something that’s not strictly CG-only. I started out with CG about 8 years ago, and went through all sorts of other fields of art, still working on some CG-stuff, but now it’s mostly live action film. Anyway, long story short - the article I wrote is, I think, beneficial to all artists, and that’s why I want to share it with you. :slight_smile:
Here we go:

Life is a complicated thing and many of us get lost in its depth and tasks. I got lost myself as a 20-year-old, in 2009, when I had no idea what to do with my life, and a decision had to be made that would determine the future course of my life. I imposed a deadline on myself, and a return from America to Europe seemed imminent - if I was not able to come up with a smart solution within a month. This blog article tells you about the discovery I made that changed my life and will help yoy to organize your own life, make complex decisions and read your own brain on paper - a simple notebook with a special purpose.

Making your Life more efficient than ever before: The Notebook / Battleplan



Thanks for sharing your ideas on getting organised Tobias. Even though I’ve been an animator for 6 years I still feel my life is way to unorganised and I need some sort of way to keep track of goals and directions I’d like to go, things to learn and all that. I’m interested in following your example in my own way and seeing if it helps me gain some clarity in where I’d like to be in the future.


thx for the interesting read. I often find myself struggling between work, friends, family, self improvement, simple time (thought) management. You summed it up very good.


Darn. I was hoping the solutions to efficiency were the following:

-Laser teeth… never bother chewing your food again. By getting rid of the first, slowest and most inefficient (and sometimes dangerous) part of the digestion process, you can increase productivity by as much as 20%

-The toilet workstation. Bathroom breaks… for many of us soft-drink/coffee obsessed individuals, having to travel from the workplace to the bathroom is a real wrench in the productivity process.

-The two above are best utilized until we find a way to just replace the brain/appendages with something more efficient.


I use Moleskines - and i tend to buy 1 per year or so. I now have have 11 of them and ive been working in the industry since 2001.

Generally work related, but has mixture of thoughts, ideas, family, life stuff too - I was told in university to do it by a great teacher. I have stuck with it. The computer in the end is just a conduit - you need to get your ideas out of you head and see if there feasible - process begets process, so you become more efficient , less stressed and crucially more confident in your ability.



interesting way of doing things. Something else you might try is “morning pages.” It’s a part of The artist’s way and is a real good way to help stay a bit organized and force ideas on to paper out of your brain. Basically you set aside 3 pages to write out in the morning before doing anything else (usually by getting up an hour earlier)…


been looking at a lot of lifehacking stuff. will take a look at this


@JoshBowman: Yeah, I think a lot of people have a similar pattern - they get very good and experienced at what they do, but often overlook that getting good at organizing one’s life makes them even better at what they do :smiley:

@jeffthoman: Interestingly enough, the same idea - writing something down right after you wake up - is employed in strengthening your capability to interact and remember dreams; by writing dreams down first thing in the morning, you’ll be able to remember future dreams more vividly!



Checked out The Artist’s Way after seeing your recommendation and found it pretty inspiring. Still just doing those morning pages things but it’s already helped me gain a bit more clarity into what I’m really interested in and the path I’d like to trek in the future.
Thanks for the tip.


A great idea, and very well explained and dissected in your blog post.


Awesome post, im going to share this with everyone


Starting your notebook plan as of yesterday. However, I’m going a bit different then you are.

Using 200 sheet 5 subject spiral fivestar notebook. Subject 1 and 5 are for the ‘notes’ and stuff. The middle 3 sections are for the calander. Got it set up for 2 dates per page, both on back and front, so it goes from 4/16/2011 - 8/21/2012. So far, only using about a quarter of a page to write (upper right hand corner for first dates), so may have room to add even more after 8/21/2012.

Using it as a sort of daily summary and notes thing. Also started working through The Artist’s Way again this week from the beginning (gave it up around end of February last time after doing 2 or 3 weeks in it because allergies bugged me bad so getting up an hour early to do 3 pages long hand on loose leaf paper in morning was a bit much as allergies were keeping me from sleeping well).

Also, starting to use voice recorder on way home from work for more notes and ideas. It’s got a belt clip type thing on it so I clip it on my shirt collar before heading out.

Yes, the dream journal thing - I used to do that in college when I based paintings on dreams. Back then, I would often ‘cheat’ a little by sleeping with lights on and ac on high while covering up my eyes. That cold and light forced me to awaken enough after waking up that it was easier to remember dreams enough to force them in to the dream journals.


Nice initiative, notebooks / writing / morning pages help tremendously…sometimes you just need to throw the thought out there to activate your life. Thanks for sharing!


Gonna give this a try. Thanks for the tips!


another way some do it:

That’s a to do list that you constantly add new stuff to. I’m possibly thinking about starting a second notebook to do that too. That way the jounal/calander thing I started will act more like a diary/daily summary thing, and the “to do” list will act more like a daily motivator. Rewriting the same tasks every day til they are done will get me more motiviated to actually take action on those particular tasks/subtasks I think.

I plan to get down to nitty gritty detail levels on that sort of thing if I do it that will take a lot more space then the little summary calander will have. Thinking like to do lists that list actual sections of 3d models I want to focus on changing, color schemes and things with color pencil drawings, etc. Lots of technical stuff to sort of ‘create a grimoire’ for reference later if I look back and wonder how the heck that I did something… stuff that is far too much writing to put in expensive sketch book paper since the acid free stuff will eat you alive in costs if you blow tons of pages on it quickly as I used to do several years back before I stopped using sketch books daily. Instead of ‘crossing off’ on the to do list, I like the idea of using + signs… or x signs… one line if you get it started, two if you complete. Circle the stuff to relist the next day.

I also started a sort of key to the calander sketchbook with little icons to make quick reference later. little boxes with icons in them are the keys. ! is a remember this. ZzZ is a dream journal entry/summary, www is a url or website I heard about that I want to go back to and/or book mark when I get a chance (I feed to one of my blogs) ? is something to inquire or google about later or look up at library, etc. Light bulb is an idea/piece of wisdom, AD is artist’s date summary (part of the artist’s way), and G is goal. I write small so can fit a lot in to a page, but not enough for really detailed stuff like would be needed in a ‘grimoire’… Might scan all of it eventually just for reference later in life.

I haul around a laptop carrying case with me but no laptop in it so there should be room. Also throwing in a little sketchbook there to doodle out ideas as needed in case drawing ideas come to mind so that the drawings are on acid free paper.

I used to just carry around an old school Kodak camera carrying case but it bit the dust so this is my new way of doing things. I like the laptop bag since it’s stylish and keeps stuff fairly safe if you don’t stack a lot on top. Got several gizmos and gadgets in there, and this is just another addition to it. Got a digital camera, 2 voice recorders (ended up buying the second one when we thought first was stolen, but later found it after we bought the second one, lol), a couple of mp3 players (one’s dedicated to workout songs that have 100 beats per minute), Diabetic Testing kit (diagnosed in January and have lost 30 lbs or so since then), and a Kindle that I use to ‘listen’ to various blogs and books while doing mundane tasks at my non-art job.

Thanks for the ideas. I think all of this stuff is going to help me make the radical changes in my life that I need to make but have kept putting off for years.



@Jeff i really like the idea of adding symbols like ZzZ and www - that’s cool, I used to make little stars when I had to jot something down that was pure information, no task. :slight_smile:

Thanks so much for all your feedback, and shares - really motivates me on my end to write my posts more often in English and share them with the cgtalk-community. :slight_smile:



Ah…the irony and reminds of my own story of coming to Vienna from USA with 2000 schillings, no way to get home, and didnt know single person in Vienna. I did it when I was 24 or so…and if I knew the Viennese the way I do now…would never have tried it.

Honestly, being honest to ones self, and desperation are great motivators to make stuff happen.

Its a long story over 5 years, of changing countries every 3 months, transcontinental road trips, and hitch hiking acrossed Europe.

I recommend everybody to try it, was some of the best times of my life!


Cool link. Daily “to do” list do indeed help.

For me the problem is not to organize or think, its to act. Quite often I know exactly what I have to do but I get hang by the procrastination rope.


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