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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