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Notebooks

Field Notes make some amazing notebooks. My favorite, to this day, is the Shelterwood from the Field Notes quarterly subscription. A pocket sized notebook wrapped in a super thin vineer of cherry wood - just beautiful.

Unfortunately, they're just too small for planning and daily use - at least for me. To try to understand why, I experiemented with the opposite side of the spectrum. I started using an extra large size Moleskine cahier to see what my experience was with more real estate.

I realized two things. 1) Turning pages back and forth, searching for things, is a waste of time. Page turning reduces task momentum. I sorta follow the bullet journal framework so I like to see as much of my day and week as possible. And 2, my daily notebook needs to be portable and "deskable" (basically, it needs to be easy to carry and can also comfortably share a desk with my keyboard and mouse and coffee).

Evernote Moleskine Notebook

I don't have any shortage of notebooks at home and I quickly found an unfinished Evernote Moleskine I've had for years. In fact, I started writing in it in 2012.

For the past month, this size has been great. Still wish it was slightly smaller but I think I'm going to try a soft cover next to see if that helps make it more portable.

Field Notes are still great notebooks. I find that I still carry them when I'm working in the yard or generally just out and about - it's really easy to use my Spacepen and take down a few notes. I can then "inbox" my small notebook into my main notebook. But I don't use it for journaling anymore.

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Notebooks and Index Cards

Before Field Notes became a thing in my world, I used these awesome wire bound notebooks I bought a long time ago from the community college bookstore. I loved the green tint of the paper and the thick covers. Alas, it is impossible to stack wire bound notebooks neatly.

Now, in the "Field Notes Era", the smaller page count causes me to go through notebooks faster. Also, I keep reference pages in the back that I need to copy over (or tear out) with every notebook change.

This is a problem. One that should be easily remedied either with a better process or with discipline. But, like all problems, I really need to explore the possibilities first. One thing I hear a lot about are index cards.

Ubiquity in 3 by 5 form

Some really smart people advocate the Hipster PDA approach and rely solely on index cards.

Look... Index cards are boring to me. No, not the process, but the paper itself. The paper is usually a three by five cut of bright white paper printed with lightish blue tinted lines. Booooring.

Unlike the Field Notes, there is no joy in writing on an index card. Sure, there's not much to innovate on with an index card - it's hard to innovate on the details when index cards lack, well... details. Then again, index cards' modular and mobile characteristics are desirable. Desirable enough to give them a solid try.

Commit!

I bought a cheap-o pack of index cards at Walmart. I suppose that was a mistake. I should have bought a nicer pack from a brand that cares about paper and the experience of writing. This is an experiment, a $3.00 experiment so far, and I can always donate them to the kids' crafting supplies.

It may not come to that, though. Well, the batch I bought will probably get donated regardless - that's how bad the paper is. But, the integration of index cards into my workflow is turning out well.

Here's what I have discovered works for me:

  • Notes that I need to shared with someone (like the wife, for example) go on an index card.
  • Reference notes (like server IP's) go on an index card.
  • Everything else goes in the notebook.

I'm experimenting with keeping To Do's on the index card as well. It feels good to be able to trash the index card once the list is complete. Although, sometimes, the card may not be completed for several months - that's just how that list will go.

This whole modification, though, is going well. We'll see how it continues.