Overcoming Chaos by Tim Baynes

We received this email from Tim Baynes in the U.K.:

"Like so many other people I enjoy Moleskinerie very much and find all the contents inspirational.

I am a painter and have used Moleskine for three years and carry two – one for business and one for drawing to capture the place I visit on business.

I have developed a neat practical idea around how to balance the unstructured taking of notes with the need to index ideas and thoughts."


A two step approach to keep your Moleskine note taking spontaneous and easily access your ideas and thoughts anywhere in your book



Number your pages (as recommended by Bruce Chatwin!). The very easy way to do this is by investing in an automatic numbering stamp. Staples sell the Trodat 5756 for $40 or £40 in the UK(!)


Using Microsoft Excel create a two column worksheet.

Enter the page numbers in column 1 and the topic/idea in column two.

TIP: Be consistent with your nomenclature if you take notes on a topic more than once

Still in Excel, select the table and copy/paste it to the same worksheet immediately to the right of your first two columns.

Highlight the pasted columns and using the Data/sort function, sort the data in your second set of columns alphabetically.



The contents of your Moleskine is indexed by page number and for fast access by topic and its corresponding page number


Play around with Page Setup in Excel to ensure the table prints out to the height of your Moleskine, a little bit of trial and error required. Print and paste your new index into the inside back or front cover of your Moleskine.

TIP: USE SPRAYMOUNT to paste your index as it is easy to pull one index out and replace it with another when you update! Use SprayMount for anything you want to keep secure but repositionable in your Moleskine.

Example of numbered pages from my trip to Tokyo earlier this month.


Tim Baynes
Visit: http://spaces.msn.com/timbaynes

© 2006 TB 

7 thoughts on “Overcoming Chaos by Tim Baynes

  1. A common thread of sentiment runs through every comment I read about these treasured books. Again and again I hear, “Why do I freaking LOVE this little book so much?”

    The Moleskin is a vehicle to discovering yourself. It is a tool for exploration. It assists in the ordering of the mind, the caputure of experience, and the creation of life. And it is free of someone else’s ideas of what that should look like for you as an individual.

    These little black books hold the option of being anything you want them to be and in the openness of the format (being completely unlike any structured or pre-printed planner/organizer/sketch book out there) they become an extension of the person using them–open, changing, fluid, and limitless.

    They are a wonderful reminder of who we are. And an incredible tool in helping us make our lives whatever we want them to be.

    Posted by: Kathleen J. Hill at Jul 6, 2006 5:54:50 PM

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  2. I think the Moleskin is a fragmented glob of traits and pieces, like leather patch work.

  3. Great idea. Just to add:
    1) number all your mole pages sequentially (I’m up to about 1900)
    2) use a single spread sheet’s tab per mole

    Now you have a complete list of all your ideas, sketches, notes, etc. in one handy sheet. (I use the cloud so I’m partial to google’s sheets so that I can access them anywhere.)

    There is a more in-depth description at the blog on Work Journal Sketching post.



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