Old School Meets Smart Notebook

One of the first posts to this blog was Navigating the Analog/Digital Divide in Life and Work, in which I surveyed my productivity suite at the time, including digital apps, programs, and analog journaling among other things. There have been a couple of changes in the intervening two years.

As one who journals daily and does a lot of online learning, I am constantly filling notebooks. I have bookshelves full of Rhodia Webbie’s that date back twenty years, detailing my daily work life (meeting notes, agendas, sketches, schedules, budgets, to-do lists, etc.) and personal life (journals). A couple of years ago I shifted my personal journaling to loose-leaf format and got serious about Bullet Journaling. I still use fountain pens for all of this.

Recently, I’ve become a fan and user of smart notebooks for meeting, class, and conference notes. I use an executive size (A5 format) Rocketbook. This decreases my fountain pen experience which I regret, but the savings ($35 1x vs. $20 for each Webbie), searchability, and digital storage make it the right choice. If you have not yet discovered smart notebooks let me give you the basics. Imagine a thin spiral bound notebook of 36 pages. Write your notes, take a photo with the phone app, and have it automatically sent to the destination(s) of your choice (Evernote, OneNote, email, Google Drive, DropBox, etc). When you are ready, simply wipe the pages clean with a damp microfiber cloth and start over. One notebook for all time. I file my notes in Evernote to take advantage of its superior search capability (I can search every note by any word). I’ve been using the Rocketbook for two months now and am completely sold on it.

Following friend Jamie Rubin’s lead, I’ve also adopted Field Notes as a small-scale full time carry. These take longer to fill, and the contents are much more varied. You are as likely to find a grocery list as a reminder note or project sketch. I’ve found these indispensable when needing to jot a quick note to myself, log meals or other data when traveling and away from my daily journal, or for developing a bill of materials for a home project.

What have I ditched you ask? Not much. I still have the Todoist app on my phone but rarely open it. I did delete the Box app simply because I never access Box via my phone. But for things I write down, I have a tool that fits each use case. I do personal journaling in the loose-leaf format with pens, take notes in the Rocketbook and have them distributed automatically, and use Field Notes as my constant carry notebook.

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