Objects: My Notebooks

This is the third post in my Objects Series about how much I appreciate the possessions I have, and the choices I made when bringing them into my life.

Back in 2006 I was going through a time of searching for answers for life’s big questions. One of the things I wanted to do was to document my findings. Being the typical computer geek, I decided that the best thing to do would be to document everything on my computer. I started using OneNote to create a set of working documents which contained all these ideas and resources.

I found that keeping everything together was extremely useful, but using my Tablet PC to write ink notes was way to clumsy – imagine trying to use a loud, hot, folded up laptop when you’re in bed reading a book and making notes. I just wasn’t practical.

I went to WHSmith and picked up a cheap spiral bound notebook, and used a Uni-ball Eye pen (a favourite from my school days) to write down some of my thoughts. This was quite new to me, as I hadn’t really bothered writing large amounts of stuff down since I was at school about 7 years previous.

These early notebooks consisted of lists of things I wanted to do as well as thoughts and diagrams trying to understand various subjects I had found interesting. Plus a good measure of doodling. I found the exercise good, but the notebooks themselves were not very nice, and the ink was quite harsh for the paper. Some of the pages were removed when the notes were no longer important, meaning that the whole thing started to get thin very fast. I went through three of these notebooks fairly quickly.

At the start of 2007 I got myself my first Moleskine notebook. I started using a Pentel pencil (a favourite for many years – though now discontinued) and I started using Post-it notes for more ‘disposable’ items. Also in 2007 I started a new job, and got myself a larger squared notebook for that task. Both of which I used a lot, and I feel it really helped me get my thoughts together in relation to a number of projects both at work and at home.

Over the next few of years I also went through quite a few of soft-back Moleskine notebooks, each for a different project that I felt needed exploring on its own, as well as a one or two hard-backs per year.

As is usual with anything I do, I start to refine and simplify things after a while. In 2010 I decided to try something different, and reduced the number of notebooks I used down to the minimum.

  • Large Squared Notebook – for work
  • Pocket Weekly Diary – for managing tasks and events
  • Pocket Plain Notebook – for personal mind maps and notes

Most of the time I’d make notes using a Kuru-toga pencil, but thanks to my discovery of the amazing Jetstream series of pens, I actually started writing in my notebooks with ink again. Usually, I go for one of my favourite pens depending on what I’m doing, though I have been known to try a number of different pens!

This combination worked really well, and I did exactly the same thing in 2011, but in 2012 I’ve decided to try and reduce things even further, so this year I’m only going to be using two notebooks day-to-day.

  • Large Squared Notebook – for work
  • Large Weekly Dairy – for tasks, events, mind maps and notes

As is usually the case with things like this, when you look back retrospectively you wonder how you managed to do without something like externalising thoughts, and while I do believe having a fancy notebook and pen adds to the experience – I think just writing things down is the most important lesson I have learned from my use of notebooks over the last six years.