As much as I enjoy new technology, like wireless networks and Palm Pilots, I often find the solutions our forebearers devised less prone to failure. The lowly notebook and pen fall into this category.
Since the beginning of my professional life, I have carried on a relationship with one type of notebook or another. The lowly notebook has never failed me. I have never lost a notebook or had it stolen. All the important stuff that I must recall goes into a notebook. I usually have several on the go at once — some for specific topics, some for their size and others because of their covers.
Using all these notebooks has evolved into a simple system. Important lists of phone numbers and indexes go on the first few pages. I usually reserve the first four pages for this purpose. All my rough, scribbled notes start on the last page and progress toward the beginning of the book. The legible complete notes start after the list and index pages and finish when they meet the scribbled notes. I write the start and finish dates on the cover along with a description of anything of lasting importance contained in the notebook.
To keep my place in the small notebooks I use a rubber band. I also put two rubber bands over the back cover of the hard covered notebooks to hold extra papers and a few 3″ x 5″ index cards. A small glue stick is always handy to stick business cards, photos, and other important things to the notebook pages to prevent loss.
Writing in small notebooks requires a different script than normally taught in school. This I call police officer italic. I form each letter individually; it is not quite printing and not quite cursive like I was taught in grade school. If I write in any other way, it will not be legible when read months later.
In this computer-obsessed age, a pen and notebook are more portable, don’t require batteries or a power outlet, cost next to nothing, start immediately and don’t crash. Finally, a notebook doesn’t seem out of place on the restaurant table like a notebook computer or even my Palm Pilot with its fold out keyboard.