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Janine Thomas

TABi lets me stay DISorganised!

I am sometimes asked why I invented TABi. The answer is probably not as obvious as you might have thought. Yes of course I needed to find my notes quickly, so using a three-dimensional array of tabs allowed me to write a tab for every page where a traditional one-dimensional set of tabs on the right of the pages wouldn’t have given me enough tabs to index enough pages. The real reason I needed TABi was because my notes were chaotic. Nothing related one note with the next other than it happened in a chronological order. What I needed was an additional clue as to where in that sequence a particular note could be found.

Had I been a neat and organised person perhaps using a tablet or laptop to record my notes, then I would have no need for something like TABi. And if I had wanted to stick to paper as an organised person, I would probably have become a convert to bullet journals or some other type of indexing discipline. But my character is disorganised and undisciplined by nature. I strongly admire people who create order out of their lives, but I’m not one of them.

So I invented TABi to let me STAY DISORGANISED, and not to force me to use a structured way of storing my notes. TABi lets me write tabs to give me, and only me, a clue about what’s on that page. But the order in which I use pages, the notes I make on them, and what I write on their tabs is completely unplanned – because I like it that way and I don’t have to change my habits. Unstructured information hiding in my notes has received a sort of structure by encouraging me to invent a keyword or two to sum up what my notes on that page are about… and that’s all I need to do to help me quickly find them again.

TABi lets me remain chaotic but for the effect of that lifestyle choice to become less problematic. For people like me, it’s not an organisational tool, it’s a disorganisational tool! Amazingly organised people also love it because it helps them become even more organised. But the challenge for TABi is how we make disorganised people aware it exists… when by definition they’re not the sort of people who seek ways to become more organised!

All ideas gratefully received.

by Jerry Horwood, TABi inventor and founder.

Using TABi for Productivity

Most of us lead pretty complicated lives. We juggle work, social, play, relaxation and panic as best we can to achieve successes ranging from survival (ideally) to ecstatic amazement at our achievements – and all points between. Rarely does everything neatly fall into place precisely when it’s meant to. My life is no different from most, a chaotic combination of serendipity and attempts at using structures and disciplines to prevent me becoming overwhelmed. I muddle through.

When I had a proper job, I had tasks assigned to me, I developed To-Do lists and I adopted the Urgent/Important prioritisation matrix to decide which tasks to tackle first:

… which you can read more about here. But there was a catch. My lists and prioritisation techniques were defined by time. When should I do what? And in order to do most of the stuff in my lists, I needed information… and a lot of that information was in handwritten notes, recorded in the most haphazard way possible – sequentially. One after the other with nothing relating one note to the next except that it had been made after the one before it.

So I had goals and tasks defined by priority, and information resources to help me achieve them defined by the unrelated factor of when they had been created. Actually, it was worse than that. If I could relate a note to a date, then I had a chance of finding it again if I could recall that date or had a diary index system (like bullet journals perhaps). But like most people who don’t have the patience to create a bullet journal and who have decided not to use digital media to store notes (which automatically records dates and indexation), my notes were made one after the other. A note about a meeting might be followed by a mindmap, followed by a shopping list, followed by a jotted phone number. The only thing relating one to the next was the completely irrelevant juxtaposition of what I was doing with my notebook before I made it, and then what notes I made after it. My ability to find a note was defined by my memory of what I was doing before and after I’d made it. When I searched for it, my brain was constantly deciding ‘was the note I want made before or after the one I’m currently looking at? Should I therefore head backwards or forwards to find it?’ Crazy!

Why did we all put up with this? Answer… because it was simple and we’d universally got used to it.

Which is why I invented TABi. Suddenly I was more productive. My notes might still be made in chronological order (although I love using the project sets on the bottom row to cluster stuff I know I’m going to use a lot), but the relationship between each of them is no longer significant. My chaotic life can continue to be reflected in a series of randomly made notes, but my ability to find them again is no longer controlled by the order in which they are taken.

by Jerry Horwood, TABi founder

Is Your Notebook Emotional or Rational?

Many of us persist in using paper notebooks, despite the constant lure of upgrading to storing and retrieving our notes in digital devices. There’s something about writing which endures in our collective psyche. And there’s something about buying, holding and using our notebooks which is a very personal experience. So what are the factors we consider when we select our next notebook – assuming they’re not provided free of charge by our employers and we get little choice other than possibly its size?

It seems not many of us think particularly rationally when we buy notebooks. And why would we? Until now, pretty much the only practical factors affecting our purchasing decisions have been to do with just size and price. Once we’ve decided on these – and size tends to relate to the degree of portability we require – our foremost consideration is about its appearance. This then breaks down into two categories. Most importantly the cover – its colour, design and texture, and then lower down the scale of importance, the quality of the paper. Add a few other bits and bobs such as pen holders, bookmarks, elastic straps and wallets, and chances are that the notebook we decide to buy is the one with the cover we want others to see and judge us by – thereby suggesting you really don’t judge the notebook by its cover, you judge its owner. In other words, the choice of which notebook to buy has always been largely emotional rather than rational.

And then along comes TABi. It’s probably the first time EVER that people are being asked to consider not just how they take notes, but also how they find them. Any rational decision-making for purchasing the best notebook to suit your needs has previously only related to MAKING notes, and never before to FINDING them. For the first time in the history, there’s a whole new rational component to consider in your decision about which notebook to select. Your emotional impulse about which cover to buy will now compete with a new dimension with your rational judgement. You’ll now also need to decide:- ‘Does it matter if you can easily find your notes again?’ If your answer is ‘no it doesn’t’, then carry on selecting the cover design that suits your mood. But if it does, welcome to the Tab it Habit!

Oh and don’t worry. In time we’ll produce a wonderful range of exciting cover designs. But for now, we’re concentrating on making you look really smart and cool… when your TABi’s open.

More ideas for using TABi

We’ve had a number of users sending in great ideas about ways they’ve discovered to get the most out of their treasured TABi. So here are a few you might find useful too. Do keep sending us feedback!:

“When I start a new page for a meeting, I don’t know if it’s going to fill a whole page. So I just put the date at the top and only write a title if I fill up the page. Otherwise I can assume the date means FROM rather than ON, and continue to write notes on it so I don’t waste paper. At least I still have a clue where my notes are, and I can still write a short title or two if I want when the page is full.”

“I sometimes use Meeting pages much like Project pages, but for notes about subjects I don’t think I’m going to need many pages for like ideas for blog posts or phone numbers. So I don’t write a date on their tabs, just a title.”

“I love using highlighters to link topics together. It not only makes my TABi more fun to use, it really does help my eye jump to what I’m looking for especially when the book is filling up.”

“I’ve seen people trying to pick up the corner of their tabs to open it. That makes the tabs curl up. If you hold the tab with your thumb and bend the back cover back, the tabs won’t curl.”

“The way the cover wraps around the spine doesn’t allow thicker pens to be inserted. So while it looks great, I’ve found the best way to attach a pen is by putting the clip on the inside and the pen then lies neatly on the outside. Perhaps one day TABi will include pen holders in the cover” – Great idea. We’re looking into it! The TABi Team.

TABi finalist for New Product of the Year 2017!

http://bossawards.co.uk/shortlist/

The British Office Supplies and Services (BOSS) Federation hold an annual awards ceremony every year in London. This year amongst all the vast number of new products launched by manufacturers of stationery, business equipment, office furniture and all the rest of this massive business sector, TABi is one of just four products selected for their New Product of the Year award.

The winner will be announced at their dinner in London on 30th November 2017. Fingers crossed of course. But even if we don’t win, it’s hugely exciting to have been noticed by the industry let alone considered to have a winning idea.