Saturday, September 08, 2007

My ideal notebook

Some years ago, I was involved in a case where my client was a condominum developer. The case involved tracking down lots of details about how they'd done things, when, and why. I was totally impressed when the fellow showed me his record keeping system. He kept a yellow legal pad with him at all times (the same one, day after day) and made notes on it for whatever he was doing. He'd use it to jot telephone numbers, keep notes of meetings, record research data, you name it. He used that same pad for whatever he was doing -- personal business, setting up an appointment to get his car tuned up, planning a meeting with the architect, etc. He'd fill up one pad and go on to the next, and they were all filed away as he finished them. From a lawyer's point of few, this was fabulous. It made finding information really easy, because everything was in there SOMEwhere.

I was so impressed by this system that I decided to try it myself. It actually didn't work so well for me in terms of my legal practice, as the notes on one client's business really needed to be in that client's file and couldn't be put in any other client's files for privilege purposes. So, I had to abandon the idea for work purposes.

But since then, I've used this sort of system at my home desk. And it works really well for me. Instead of hunting for stuff (where did I put that slip with the phone number on it?) I know it's in that one journal and I just have to thumb back a few pages.

For this purpose, my ideal notebook is a lined or graph paper one with a spiral binding. It sits next to my keyboard, blank page up, ready for notes.

But a few years ago, I stumbled onto what I consider my perfect journal for all other purposes. It's the size and shape of a standard student composition book (I love those books) but it has graph paper. I love graph paper, too. And just recently, I filled up my last one.

So, recently I set out to see if I could find a good graph paper notebook...not too small, not too large. I know Moleskine makes them, and that some people are Moleskine fact, there's a blogger whose topic is what people do with their Moleskine journals. I have ordered one of those to try, but they're sort of pricey...compared to my favorites, which sell for about $4 each.

And lo and behold, I found the ones I'd been searching for! It's a line of Keith Haring notebooks, which come in graph or ruled paper. $4 each! They're sorta soft cover, but durable soft cover, not flimsy. And I'm stocking up. Wanna take a peek? You can find them at Shop Rock Candy, here.


  1. I am a moleskine addicted and my green notebook is always with me. Once with a moleskine, always with a moleskine.

  2. And Keith Haring as a bonus! Love Keith Haring!

  3. When I worked in a day job I used this method for work only and for me who finds it difficult to be organized it was a great system.

  4. Great idea...I think this would help me quite a bit since my memory is so non existent from my TBI

  5. Franklin Covey teaches the system of putting EVERY note in the same spot (of course they say it needs to be in a Franklin Covey Planner).

    One thing they suggest that might make it work for you is in the notebook where you put everything, you just "code" when you put notes somewhere else. That way if you know when you did something, you can look in your master notebook and find where you put it.

    For example, if tomorrow you talk with Mrs Jones about her taking her feltmaking company public, your master notebook might simply say "9/10 phone notes in Jones file." And if you later bought birthday cards for friends for the rest of the year and put them away, you can code that "9/10 birthday cards in home file cabinet under B."

    I like the system because you can always go back and find a trail. However, I must say I haven't kept up with it.

  6. Anonymous8:28 AM

    I read your blog yesterday and when I was at the art store later in the day, I saw the moleskin journals with the grid and I bought two sizes. Now if I can find them, I will start using them. I love the idea of the grid!!