Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Take note (but no Moleskine for me)

Michael Hyatt has some thoughts on taking notes on Working Smart right now and, while I agree with most of his advice, I have my own variations on note taking techniques. Specifically, I disagree with his choice of notebook. Like Michael, I tried (and loved) the Moleskine notebook, but it didn't work for me as a note taking implement (though it is perfect as a journal or diary).

My favored technique was inspired by David Allen's use of legal pads, which allowed him to tear things off and put them in "In." Here is what I do:

I carry around a spiral notebook with micro-perforated pages, and take all my notes in there (here's a grainy Treo 600 snapshot of mine).

I prefer notebooks by a company called "Notebound" because they are cheap and durable, but look professional enough for a high-level business meeting. They also have a plastic pocket inside, which is good for stashing a couple of business cards and to serve as a traveling inbox when I don't have my red folder with me. I can also put temporary things like directions, etc. that I've printed out to help me get where I'm going. I can find these at Walgreen's for around $5 for the 10.5" x 8.5" size (120 or 160 page versions are available).

Here's where these are different from those beautiful Moleskine's: As I process the pages, I can tear them out and a) discard them, b) put the action items into my Outlook task list, c) file them, d) hand them off to someone else.

When I take notes, it's just for taking notes - so this process works for me. It means that I don't carry around a bunch of old notes that I will probably never read, and since I tear out pages as I process them I can see at a glance how much needs to be processed.

When I have notes I *do* want to retain in their original form, I can file them just like I would file any other piece of paper. More often than not, I need to summarize the outcomes of meetings in an email to other people and I use that opportunity to distill the meeting down to its core elements, then file that in my electronic filing system (which I can search easily with Lookout).

How do you deal with notes?