Suw Charman-Anderson has an interesting article at Forbes.com about the best ways to use a notebook for creative endeavors. She refers to another series of blog posts called The Entrepreneur’s Notebook, which brings up a controversial approach:
I’ve always used my notebooks for everything, whether that was notes from a meeting I was in, to do list items, shopping lists, ideas, random notes, doodles, the whole nine yards. What Masukomi [author of The Entrepreneur’s Notebook] points out is that you need to keep your notebook pure, just for ideas and maybe doodles:
“Doodling doesn’t affect the quality of the content in your notebook because it doesn’t contain information your brain needs to parse, but things like grocery lists contain information that’s irrelevant to your projects and become random noise that pollutes an otherwise useful resource.”
Always a great debate: one notebook, or many? Should you separate your notebooks according to their purpose, keeping mundane lists in one and creative ideas in another, or even further sub-dividing specific projects into separate notebooks? Or should you just dump everything into one notebook that you have with you at all times? Or keep two or more notebooks with you at all times?
Lately, I’ve been using the one-notebook-for-everything approach, pretty much. But I do have separate sketchbooks, and I’ve been wondering if I should be carrying one at all times to encourage me to draw more. I do sometimes draw in my main notebook, but not as much as I’d like. And for some reason, I don’t doodle in it all that much– I doodle a lot in meetings at work, but that usually ends up on work papers and a larger notebook that I use for note-taking at meetings. I sometimes wonder if I should bring my small notebook to meetings so I can capture my doodles separately there, and keep my work papers looking more professional!
Suw found that she didn’t really want to carry two notebooks, so she came up with a good compromise:
I started carrying round a new notebook just before I went on holiday to Malta and whilst I was away I jotted down a load of really cool ideas…
But I still needed somewhere to jot down to do items and grocery list stuff, and I didn’t fancy carrying round two notebooks. This turned out to be an easy problem to solve: In the back of the book I stuck a few sticky notes and anything that doesn’t belong in the notebook gets put on a sticky note, then transferred to my writing slope once I get home to my office. This separation of church and state is really important because it means that when you open your notebook, your focus is undiluted by reminders to do this or that later on. It’s all about the ideas, nothing else.
What’s your method?
Read the full articles referenced at:
The Author’s Notebook – Forbes.
The Entrepreneur’s Notebook Part 1
The Entrepreneur’s Notebook Part 2 – Tips for more productive note-taking
The Entrepreneur’s Notebook Part 3 – Searchability, Notebook choices, and backups