A great note-taking system


Posted by Eva Owens

Caring for a client can mean juggling lots of information in your head at the same time:

  • What time is the next appointment?
  • Did we take medications already?
  • What meal prep needs to happen before dinner?

Having a good system to keep yourself organized is an important step to providing high quality care for your client. Over the past month, we’ve scoured the web to look at every do-it-yourself note-taking system out there, collecting the best parts of each to come up with a system that can serve you well.

For the cost of a notebook and a pen, here’s a breakdown of one idea to stay organized.

Modified ‘Bullet Journal’

The Bullet Journal system has been popular for a number of years. It’s a “customizable and forgiving” organization system integrates a calendar, a to-do list, and an easy-to-use notes section. Bullet journals can also be so in depth that you can burn out before you even get started. So we’re boiling the parts down to the barest essentials.

This system is robust but simple. Also, if you are one of multiple caregivers, this system can dramatically decrease confusion. If you leave the notebook at your client’s home, the next person can pick it up, review notes from your day, scan the notes in the back for important information, and more.

Page 1-2: This month


When you open your notebook, you’ll utilize the first spread of pages as one month. The second spread will be the next month, and continue like that until you’ve reached the end of the year.

On the first page, you’ll write the name of the month. Then, create a column and list each date, from the first day of the month till the last. Make another column and write a one-letter abbreviation for each day. This is going to become an appointment calendar. At one glance, you’ll be able to remember any event that you have to plan your day around. As events come up, write them down in the third column.

On the next page, once again write the name of the month. This page is devoted to a bulleted list of to-do’s. Every time something comes up that you need to remember to get done, write it here. You can do it in one column or two, depending on your preference. As you complete the to-do, cross it off.

Next: The daily log


After you’ve completed a spread for each month left in the year, you can begin your first daily log. Let’s say you’re beginning on May 1. Write 05/01 and then any notes that come up through the day can be recorded here. This could be a grocery list, a list of menu items for meals that day, reminders about medications, or anything else.

This is also a great way to remember important information you’ll want to share with the client’s loved ones.

From one month to the next

At the end of one month and the beginning of the next, look over your task list and move anything that is still relevant to the next month’s task list. If something has become irrelevant, you can simply cross out that task.

Here, we should note that a bonafide Bullet Journal method includes all sorts of symbols next to tasks to make it easy to understand their purpose and state of being complete. If that sounds appealing to you, you can read more here. If not, it works great with the simpler methods featured here.

Starting from the back: Notes


The very last page of your journal is about to become a sort of reverse-index. First, after looking to see how many pages are in your journal, take a few minutes to number the bottom corner of as many as possible. So if your notebook is 100 pages, the last page will be page #100.

Now, any time you have notes you’ll need to refer to at a future point, you can record them here.

Some ideas for lists you may need to make:

  • List of medications, dosage, frequency and prescription numbers
  • List of allergies or health concerns of your client
  • List of emergency contacts

Once you’ve established the topic and made your list, flip back to the index page, and write the topic down, as well as the page number it occupies. Then, if you’re talking to a doctor or if you need to reference a note, you can quickly find it in your notebook. You can also list the page numbers where each month’s daily log begins, if you’d like.

From one year to the next

After you’ve completed a notebook, it’ll be time to create your new one. Transferring over notes from the back of your journal might sound tedious, but having them all in one spot is valuable. Plus, with some extra time, you can determine whether you really need that information at your fingertips.

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