You never know when your brain is going to flash on an idea, a great gift, or something you need from the store. That’s why I carry a small notebook around with me most of the time. Here are some productivity tips on how to use a “hipster PDA” effectively.
- Get one. I got mine for about a buck at Office Depot. It looks like this:
- Write the date on the outside of the notebook. If you start using notebooks a lot, you’ll find it very handy to be able to sort notebooks by time.
- Clear out your brain. When you think of a task for work or a book that you want to buy, just write it down. This lets you concentrate on important things instead of remembering small items.
- Avoid the temptation to write on both sides of the page: just write on one side. You’ll see why in a minute.
- Keep each separate subject on a separate page. One page could be things to get done at work that day. Another page could be a meeting agenda. Another page could be books you want to read, or movies you want to see. Yet another could be things you want to blog about. But don’t mix the meeting agenda with your blogging to-do list. You’ll see why in a minute.
- When you’re finished with a page, yank out that page. Crumple it up and throw it away. Maybe you’re back from the grocery store and everything is crossed off your grocery list page. Try to finish out the notebook with almost all your pages ripped out.
- You want the notebook to be empty or nearly empty when you run out of blank paper. It’s very satisfying to yank a page out of the notebook when you’re done with a task. You want the page to pull away cleanly, so look for a notebook that is perfect bound. That is, the spine of the notebook is square and the pages are held in place with glue. I’ve found the “Square Deal” memo pads from Mead to be just right for me.
- A bonus tip: if you’re about to head to a big event like a conference and think you might take a lot of notes, feedback, or details, then start with a fresh notebook.
The observation here is pretty simple: the notepad is not your entire filing system. That notebook is just your short-term working memory. Ideally anything that you jot down in the notebook (e.g. movies to see) can eventually go onto a longer-term list, such as your Netflix queue for movies.
If you want to get advanced, you can store some small amount of info in the inside cover of the notebook. For example, there’s a cafe that I like with free WiFi. Their WEP password is their phone number. So I keep that WEP password on the inside cover of my notebook. Arguably things like passwords could go in your head or laptop or phone though. I really only use my “hipster PDA” to remember things until I can move them over into a better place or take care of them quickly.