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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Notebook Or Pad?

I’m really low tech. I take notes when I talk with someone because I’m trying to figure out and remember what they mean. Also, I’ve noticed if I take notes, people lie less. I use paper, usually graph ruled, because the placement of the notes is an important part of the meaning.

I tried to use a laptop computer, but the customers thought I wasn’t listening to them, and objected.

I use a black and white composition book, center stitched heavy quadrille paper, in a leather or fabric cover. The inside covers have pockets for my name badge, some business cards and three by five cards.

Every month I print a single page calendar of this month with next month on the back, fold it, and put it in the notebook.

The center stitching allows me to put handouts in the book without breaking the binding, so it functions as a small portfolio.

When I get to the office, I type any notes I plan to share on a stationary template in Word or LibreOffice. The file name is the meeting name and the date. The time spent transcribing and reconstructing the notes allows me to check facts and addresses in Google to make sure I understand what happened, and then file by project in my computer.
Often I’ll send the finished notes to the other person in the meeting to make sure I got the facts right.

An investor once said that my notes were not what happened, but what should have happened.

I have recalled and used those notes two years after writing them. If the computer remembers, I don’t have to.

The composition book lasts about eighteen months, so I have all my recent notes with me in the field.

Sometimes I don’t want my notes with me, as when I am meeting with competing bidders, or dealing with a confidential subject or an issue that will end up in a personnel file. Then I use a Circa notebook, junior or letter size, and separate the notes from the notebook as soon as I get back to the office. The Circa also carries a standard load of name tag, business cards, and handouts.

I would really like to carry the Circa book all the time, but it’s not as good with long term information. Some jobs are project based and favor individual piece of paper, and some jobs favor carrying many months worth of data.

Finally, I carry a three by five quadrille notebook, with business cards and note cards, in my jacket. I staple a card inside the back cover, or staple to reinforce an existing back flap. That’s especially handy when I get a minute in a train, plane, coffee shop, or bookstore and get an idea I want to explore.

How do you stay organized?

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