Notebooks at Work

I’ve been thinking a lot about how people use notebooks at work. Yesterday’s post showed a few of Obama’s staff with notebooks among the tools of their trade. Certain professions use notebooks as a matter of course: reporters, for one. If you look at the Alwych website, they describe their notebooks as being used by “the Police, tanker and delivery drivers, milkmen, etc.” Maybe some of these occupations now have computerized ways of recording information, but not everything has to go high tech– I believe scientists also have to record their findings in notebooks that are dated and carbon-copied, so they can prove they haven’t faked their results.

My own office job is nowhere near as interesting as any of that, but it definitely requires note-taking. At meetings with my colleagues, I look around the room and notice a variety of notebooks. More and more are Moleskines lately. Some people use other brands of journals. Then there are many people who use the standard boring spiral notebooks that are available from the supply room for free.

I tend to use a combination of things for taking notes– if there is a handout at a meeting, I write in the margins and on the backs of pages. Sometimes I recycle the backs of old printouts of reports. Sometimes I use plain paper in a 3-ring binder. But occasionally, I use whatever notebook I currently have going for my own personal stuff. It’s my favorite thing to write in, and I also tend to doodle a lot in meetings, so it’s nice to keep those little drawings. But in a way, I feel like it’s a waste to use a nice Moleskine on work stuff. And Moleskines aren’t cheap– why should I spend my own money on something I use for work? (Though since I itemize my tax deductions, I can at least claim them as an unreimbursed business expense!)

How about you? What do you use for notetaking at your job? Do you mix business and personal when it comes to notebooks?

5 thoughts on “Notebooks at Work”

  1. business requires my Franklin Dayplanner, 2-page/day format. I need to track notes to specific dates/times. I use the Franklin system to index business tasks each month. Been doing it for almost 15 years, that has to define habituation. My binder also contains several tabs for job and personal items where I write almost daily: bicycle, health, finance, current job projects, house projects, other stuff including sketches and storyboards.

    My pocket moles are personal journals and sketchpads and they are much more portable than the binder so they go non-job places the binder doesn’t. I often need to transcribe notes form one to the other which reinforces it.

    david boise ID

  2. I mostly use legal pads at work, tearing the sheets off and filing them in binders appropriate to the subject matter I was taking notes on. I have been getting really tired of the terrible quality legal pads at work so when I happened to see a Rhodia pad at Border’s I decided to buy it. It was really expensive for a work pad. I need another option.

  3. I also love my plain pocket Moleskine and carry it everywhere, but like you I can’t seem to bring myself to use it for my day job. For planning short stories and other fiction, yes — but not for the 9-5 gig. 🙂
    I also usually have a larger Moleskine or Clairefontaine notebook in tow — again, not to be sullied with boring work stuff.
    At work I mostly write on the meeting agenda handout, as you mentioned you also do.

  4. I’m a nurse and I use a plain spiral notebook to take report on. I use a two page spread for each day. For really important stuff, like monthly summary lists, diabetics, people on O2, etc., I use an A5 Daytimer. Works for me.

  5. I use a small legal pad for meetings. Then, after the meetings I’ll hole punch the pages to go in my Franklin Planner. I’ll also keep a photocopy in a file or binder specific to that project. Oh the stories my planner could tell. (insert maniacal laugh here.)

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