Putting Down an Old Soldier – Capturing on Paper

I’ve written before about about methods I use for quick digital capture. It is time for my dirty secret: there are still instances where a pen and paper work best. Most often, when I’m sitting across the table from someone, I find it much more convenient to jot quick notes on a piece of paper rather than pulling out the iPad, booting up the necessary application, and tapping away. Also, I’ve noticed that using technology to capture quick bits of information distracts people. It is much easier to keep your focus on another person while writing notes on a piece of paper then when manipulating electrons. As a result, I’ve made a habit of carrying small notebooks in my pocket. Over the years I’ve used different brands. It really doesn’t matter what you use. Most recently, I’ve started using the Field Notes books but I suspect that has much more to do with me growing up watching Indiana Jones movies than actually needing this particular brand.

Either way, for me these notebooks are purely sacrificial. I scribble notes in them and at the end of the day incorporate information into my digital workflow (most often OmniFocus, Notational Velocity, or Address Book) and then scratch out the processed entries without mercy.

I beat the hell out of these books. They go in shirt pockets, jeans, get smashed into bags, and all other sorts of abuse. It takes me about a month to fill one and then I toss it in the shred bin at the office without further ritual. If you want to do something similar, here are a few pointers:

  • Make sure the size is small enough to fit in your pocket but the length of the page is long enough so you can store your pen inside it without the point poking out the bottom.

  • Make sure the paper is thick enough that if you write on one side, your pen doesn’t bleed through to the other.

  • Most importantly, make a habit of getting the information out of them on a daily basis. That way, when you lose the notebook (you will lose a few of them), you can keep your losses to a minimum.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go throw out the above pictured soldier and start a new recruit.

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23 Comments Putting Down an Old Soldier – Capturing on Paper

  1. brett@brettkelly.org

    Your usage sounds similar to mine – it's purely for capturing things while I'm away from a computer and making temporary notes (shopping lists, etc.). I keep all of mine and am looking for a way to have them digitized, actually.

    I've tried lots of different notebooks and I buy Field Notes because of the durability and aesthetic. Even though they feel as though they were designed by an engineer, they sweat the details and each book has a surprising amount of care and craftsmanship. I buy them by the truckload and given to everybody because I like them so much 🙂

    Reply
  2. brett@brettkelly.org

    Your usage sounds similar to mine – it's purely for capturing things while I'm away from a computer and making temporary notes (shopping lists, etc.). I keep all of mine and am looking for a way to have them digitized, actually.

    I've tried lots of different notebooks and I buy Field Notes because of the durability and aesthetic. Even though they feel as though they were designed by an engineer, they sweat the details and each book has a surprising amount of care and craftsmanship. I buy them by the truckload and given to everybody because I like them so much 🙂

    Reply
  3. brett@brettkelly.org

    Your usage sounds similar to mine – it's purely for capturing things while I'm away from a computer and making temporary notes (shopping lists, etc.). I keep all of mine and am looking for a way to have them digitized, actually.

    I've tried lots of different notebooks and I buy Field Notes because of the durability and aesthetic. Even though they feel as though they were designed by an engineer, they sweat the details and each book has a surprising amount of care and craftsmanship. I buy them by the truckload and given to everybody because I like them so much 🙂

    Reply
  4. brett@brettkelly.org

    Your usage sounds similar to mine – it's purely for capturing things while I'm away from a computer and making temporary notes (shopping lists, etc.). I keep all of mine and am looking for a way to have them digitized, actually.

    I've tried lots of different notebooks and I buy Field Notes because of the durability and aesthetic. Even though they feel as though they were designed by an engineer, they sweat the details and each book has a surprising amount of care and craftsmanship. I buy them by the truckload and given to everybody because I like them so much 🙂

    Reply
  5. brett@brettkelly.org

    Your usage sounds similar to mine – it's purely for capturing things while I'm away from a computer and making temporary notes (shopping lists, etc.). I keep all of mine and am looking for a way to have them digitized, actually.

    I've tried lots of different notebooks and I buy Field Notes because of the durability and aesthetic. Even though they feel as though they were designed by an engineer, they sweat the details and each book has a surprising amount of care and craftsmanship. I buy them by the truckload and given to everybody because I like them so much 🙂

    Reply
  6. Mike Potts

    I use my Field Notes in a similar fashion; taking notes, making list, and identifying next actions when I am away from my computer. When I get home I process the notes, and either complete the action or move them into Things.

    Love those little books!

    Reply
  7. Scott Bledsoe

    Brett, use Livescribe and there they are digitally as you wrote it. Also they have an add on that will inscribe them to text if you want. And it can send to Evernote. I love to use it during meetings and classes. I don't miss anything that way

    Reply
  8. PJ

    Hi David

    Why not use your Livescribe pen and get the best of both worlds (especially with the OCR technology). Write it down, import it into your Mac via USB, one click to create a text file and then copy/paste the text into another workflow of your fancy. Genius!

    Reply
  9. jim@jimfmunro.com

    Alrighty, here is a great way to use Evernote (given your tweet yesterday). If your notes are lengthy, snap them on your iPhone and you'll have an auto OCRed version ready to search later, if needed. The best of both worlds. 🙂

    Reply
  10. jim@jimfmunro.com

    Alrighty, here is a great way to use Evernote (given your tweet yesterday). If your notes are lengthy, snap them on your iPhone and you'll have an auto OCRed version ready to search later, if needed. The best of both worlds. 🙂

    Reply
  11. jim@jimfmunro.com

    Alrighty, here is a great way to use Evernote (given your tweet yesterday). If your notes are lengthy, snap them on your iPhone and you'll have an auto OCRed version ready to search later, if needed. The best of both worlds. 🙂

    Reply
  12. jim@jimfmunro.com

    Alrighty, here is a great way to use Evernote (given your tweet yesterday). If your notes are lengthy, snap them on your iPhone and you'll have an auto OCRed version ready to search later, if needed. The best of both worlds. 🙂

    Reply
  13. jim@jimfmunro.com

    Alrighty, here is a great way to use Evernote (given your tweet yesterday). If your notes are lengthy, snap them on your iPhone and you'll have an auto OCRed version ready to search later, if needed. The best of both worlds. 🙂

    Reply
  14. davidwsparks@mac.com

    @Scott,

    I use a Livescribe pen, often. The Field Notes are used for the real temporary stuff like a list of questions, an address, or a note to myself to wash the dog.

    Reply
  15. davidwsparks@mac.com

    @Scott,

    I use a Livescribe pen, often. The Field Notes are used for the real temporary stuff like a list of questions, an address, or a note to myself to wash the dog.

    Reply
  16. davidwsparks@mac.com

    @Scott,

    I use a Livescribe pen, often. The Field Notes are used for the real temporary stuff like a list of questions, an address, or a note to myself to wash the dog.

    Reply
  17. davidwsparks@mac.com

    @Scott,

    I use a Livescribe pen, often. The Field Notes are used for the real temporary stuff like a list of questions, an address, or a note to myself to wash the dog.

    Reply
  18. davidwsparks@mac.com

    @Scott,

    I use a Livescribe pen, often. The Field Notes are used for the real temporary stuff like a list of questions, an address, or a note to myself to wash the dog.

    Reply

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