For a while now I’ve been a fan of the Moleskine notebook. My first step was to use the standard pocket version. A good source for these is at bureau.
I then branched out into the larger sketch book version. I attached Post-It labels for a GTD-like system of lists as part of it; the other pages are for notes, sketches, Mind Maps … and drafting blog posts (such as this one). This has begun to replace my electronic systems for personal organisation, although I still use MindManager, Outlook, OneNote and Firefox to file electronic material I come across or generate.
One of my favourite blogs is moleskinerie which is coming up to its second anniversary; it often stimulates me to creativity, but always through the traditional medium of pen and paper. A recent post referenced why techies are returning to paper.
Such a reversion to drafting ideas on paper is hugely inefficient – or so we are told … usually by systems sales people. My experience is otherwise. I find regularly abandoning my screen, which usually shows my In-box, is good for me. It is refreshing and clarifying.
I begin to set my ideas down on a rather less constraining portal – the pages of my moleskine – where I can sketch, doodle, and generally be stimulated by the visceral experience of feeling pen on paper. It is ‘thinking at the speed of write’.
Yes, I can do much of this on my Tablet PC using MindManager and OneNote; and as a natural technophile I have tried very hard to be faithful to these. I really do appreciate these systems.
But there is something altogether more liberating about the primitive medium of pen and paper. I can’t altogether explain why. It’s almost an existential thing. You have to experience it; and by the measure of the buzz around the moleskine and the Hipster PDA, many have discovered for themselves the same experience.
So I’ve abandoned my PDA – and if you want to know which model it is then that is a sign you’ve not really bought into what I’ve been trying to say. I now have a simple pocket Moleskine week-to-a-view diary that has a separate address book pull-out at the back. (I can anticipate the groans from all PDA fans…) And I feel a lot better for it.
No, paper notebooks and paper diaries are never perfect; they have their own limitations. But their limitations are better known, they are more trustworthy, more flexible, and less bland than their electronic equivalents.
My last step in this process of technical reversion was to go back to my PDA and do one last synchronisation with my PC…. only to find that the battery had died from a few days’ neglect and it had wiped the memory.
I’m sure it’s a God thing. I’m not supposed to go back.